Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 4th Arif Budiman Lecture 2010 organised by MLLPC, Malay Language Centre of Singapore and Malay Language Unit, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education, on Saturday, 31 July at 9.00 am at Ministry of Education Language Centre, Bishan Centre

Mr Mohamed Noh Daipi
Director, Malay Language Centre of Singapore and
Assistant Director, Mother Tongue Languages

Profesor Dr. Awang Sariyan
Malay Studies Chair, Malaysia and China
Beijing Foreign Studies University

Distinguished Guests, Teachers, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning


It gives me great pleasure to be able to spend time with you this morning at the 4th Arif Budiman Lecture jointly organised by the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee (MLLPC) together with the Malay Language Centre of Singapore and the Malay Language Unit, Ministry of Education (MOE). I applaud such noble efforts to provide a platform for Malay Language teachers to continuously enhance their professional knowledge so as to raise the quality of teaching and learning of Malay Language in the classroom.

It is a reality that the learning needs of our students have evolved over time. It is therefore inevitable that timely changes have to be made to our teaching approaches so as to make the teaching and learning of Malay Language relevant and interesting. Increasingly we need more engaging pedagogies to capture the interest of our students and inspire them to strive for high proficiency standards in Malay Language.

Malay Language as a Global Language

Ladies and Gentlemen, the topic for this morning’s lecture, ‘Globalising Malay Language Beyond Nusantara (Malay Archipelago)’ is unique and thought-provoking. Even as we discuss the use of Malay language in our country and explore ways to strengthen its usage, we also need to realise the importance of keeping ourselves abreast of developments of the Malay language at the global stage.

Currently, Malay language is spoken by over 300 million people around the world and is the mother tongue language for many communities in the Malay Archipelago. These communities constitute almost half of the South-East Asia region. In fact, Malay and Indonesian languages are being taught and studied in international universities outside the Malay Archipelago. These universities include those in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Melbourne, Canberra, USA (such as Cornell and Yale), Moscow, Paris, Prague(Praha), Leiden, Warsaw, Berlin and Cairo.

I am sure that students learning Malay language and Bahasa Indonesia in those universities believe in the economic, social and cultural value of the languages as well as appreciate their unique aesthetic quality. Many intellectuals and writers are using the new media to promote their literary works in Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. I am confident that going forward, Malay language will gain even more recognition internationally and it will become one of the important world languages.

Collaboration with the Malay Community

Since 2006, MOE through the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee (MLLPC) has garnered the support of the community and various organisations to organise Malay language outreach programmes for students and the general public. These programmes are creative and impactful and include projects such as the Arif Budiman Lecture Series, Cepat Tepat Quiz and Lensa Bahasa Competition.

The collaboration among community organisations, the media and schools are important to continuously enthuse our younger generation and develop in them a keen interest in Malay language, literature and culture. I hope parents will also play their role by regularly speaking Malay with their children at home.

Latest Developments of the Malay Language Centre of Singapore (MLCS)

At the 3rd Arif Budiman Lecture on 30 January this year, I announced the setting up of the Malay Language Centre of Singapore (MLCS). Today, I am pleased to inform you that the interim office of MOE Language Centre, Bishan Campus. In addition, MLCS already has plans for several training programmes for teachers. Indeed, the 4th Arif Budiman Lecture today marks the opening of a series of programmes which will be conducted by MLCS.

The other training programmes in the pipeline include trialling of school-based curriculum with pilot schools, training on strategies to teach Malay Language to students with different needs, induction programme for new Malay Language teachers, and mentoring programme for Senior Teachers. MLCS will continue to provide ample opportunities for our teachers to build their capacity in the teaching of Malay language.

Let us give our support to the programmes organised by MLCS. MLCS is our shared asset. The yield of investment is not just the professional development opportunities for our Malay language teachers but also the enhanced mastery and proficiency in Malay language and culture among our students, the next generation. It is my sincere hope that the Malay language will continue to be a living language for our Malay community.


As a closing remark, please allow me to recite a pantun:

Gaharu cendana harum setara,
Wangi semerbak mengharum istana;
Walau diri di luar Nusantara,
Bahasa kita tetap diguna.
which means “although we are far away beyond Nusantara, our language will part not.”

Thank you.