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Indonesia’s education minister rejects Malaysia’s proposal to make Malay the second language of ASEAN


JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Indonesia’s Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim has rejected Malaysia’s proposal to make the Malay language, or Bahasa Melayu, the second official language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Mr. Makarim stated in a written statement released on Monday, April 4, evening that it is more feasible to consider Indonesian as an ASEAN language, taking into account its historical, legal, and linguistic advantages.

“I, as the Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, of course reject the proposal. 

“However, due to the desire of our neighbouring friend to propose Malay as the official language of ASEAN, of course, this desire needs to be studied and discussed further at the regional level.” 

He added: “I urge the entire community to work hand in hand with the government to continue to empower and defend the Indonesian language.”

The minister’s statement came after Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Apr 1 that President Joko Widodo has agreed to Putrajaya’s suggestion to propose Malay as a language of ASEAN one day.

On March 23, Prime Minister Ismail stated that Malaysia would discuss with regional leaders the possibility of making Bahasa Malaysia Asean’s second official language in order to elevate the mother tongue at the international level.

Mr. Ismail also stated that Bahasa Malaysia will be used at official government functions outside of Malaysia only when English is not the host country’s national language.

Mr. Ismail recently informed his counterpart, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, of his intention to elevate the Malay language and make it an official language of Asean during an official visit to Indonesia.


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