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Consider economic impact of ‘Return to Sender’ policy – Yong

Yong holding the RCI on foreigners report.

KOTA KINABALU (Oct 26): The use of only Bahasa Malaysia in communication with all government departments will be detrimental to the economic development of the country, said former Sabah chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

He said some government departments, by necessity and the nature of their work responsible for dealing with foreign entities and businesses, must communicate in English, which is the lingua franca of international trade, communication and diplomacy.

“I am not only referring to Wisma Putra (Foreign Affairs) but also to agencies like MIDA (Malaysia Industrial Development Authority), MATRADE (Malaysia Trade Agency), Bank Negara, to name a few.

“Returning incoming mail that is written in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia would also send a negative message to the international community and suggest that Malaysia is not open to foreign investment or trade, and that it is not interested in collaborating with other countries.

“Even our law enforcement agencies (police, anti-corruption, immigration) have to receive and process all sorts of incoming mail and reports in various languages.

“It would be a loss to the country and to the economic progress if such incoming mail to the government is simply ‘returned to sender’, as this practice disconnects and isolates the country from the world,” Yong pointed out in a statement on Thursday.

He was responding to the reminder of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday that all written correspondence with government departments must be in the national language or the letters would be sent back to senders.

According to Yong, Bahasa Malaysia, as the national language of the country, has already succeeded in becoming the common lingua franca, a medium of communication among all Malaysians, and is used in the daily lives of ordinary people. The national campaign on “Guna Bahasa Kebangsaan” in the 1980s has already achieved its purpose.

With rare exceptions, 99.9% of official correspondence with Malaysian and Sabah government departments is either in Bahasa Malaysia or English.

“We hope the Prime Minister does not actually mean to return all mail to the government written in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia.

“There are many ways to strengthen and add value to our national language, such as producing quality literature, songs, dramas, and philosophical wisdom, without adversely impacting the country’s economic development,” he said.

— Ends

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