What’s in a nama?

If Unspun was still living in Malaysia, Unspun would be angry, frustrated and mad. But Unspun is not living there so he is amused instead by the latest name change to the national language there.It used to be called Bahasa Melayu, then the government changed it to Bahasa Malaysia, then somewhere it was Bahasa Kebangsaan, then Bahasa Melayu, then now Bahasa Malaysia again. (see here and here)

What does that tell you about the Malaysian political elite?

Unspun thinks it tells you a lot about the insecurities of the politicians that claim to represent a race that sometimes may seem isn’t quite a race (see Michael Chik’s comments here). Or at least a race under siege by the other races and cultures that threaten to overwhelm it with their thousands years old histories. Or, if one is skeptical, a race being manipulated by cynical politicians so that the way to survival is to huddle together and perpetrate an unsustainable model of affirmative action.

It is a race that has had history play it a good hand yet has, if the once champion of that race – Mahathir Mohamad -is to be believed, failed to make good on the  opportunity.

There is nothing wrong with the race though, if only they would not be manipulated by the politicians into an identity crisis and look south instead for some lessons. Indonesia may have many problems, but certainly not an identity problem.

In Indonesia, the national language is Bahasa Indonesia which everyone will happily tell you is derived from Bahasa Melayu, which was the predominant language of trade at the time of the founding of the Republik.

They use it out of practicality and would laugh if anyone has the temerity and lack of common sense to call it Bahasa Kebangsaan. The question that would crop up in Indonesia is, whose bangsa? the Javanese, the Sundanese, the Bataks, the Ambonese, the Indos, the peranakan Chinese, the Manadoans? But they all happily use the language deftly to trade, to communicate to spread a culture that transcends race, culture and provinces to unite a nation.

Now, there’s perhaps a lesson there for the paranoids across the Straits.

clipped from www.jeffooi.com

Bahasa Melayu-Malaysia-Kebangsaan?

ZAM-thing’s happening again.

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said the national language is now known as Bahasa Malaysia again, replacing the term Bahasa Melayu, which ZAM blamed on Anwar Ibrahim who changed it when he became the education minister in 1986.

Such an important announcement! Is it meant only for the English and Chinese-speaking readership, and is it to be concealed from the Malay-speaking crowd?

  blog it

2 thoughts on “What’s in a nama?

Add yours

  1. Yet another flip-flop decision from the flip-floppy government. Do you think the Singaporeans really bought Najib’s half-hearted assurance that there would be no more flip-flops?


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