However, this idea has not gone down well in some parts of the country.
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) board of governors chairman Prof Datuk Seri Dr Awang Sariyan recently stated that anyone who does not respect BM might be punished up to RM50,000 or sentenced to imprisonment as an example of support for the proposal.
The punishments were among items proposed in amendments to the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Act 1959, which are now in the final stage of discussion before being presented to the Prime Minister next month.
“This is not grammar or spelling errors, but disrespect for the national language. The proposed fine is not to punish but to evoke love and patriotism to the country.”
Awang said that the DBP has also proposed that the National Language Act be amended in line with the amendments to the DBP Act so that it could carry out its duties as a language enforcer more effectively.
“The National Language Act is the parent act to the DBP Act. If it is expanded, the government can ask DBP to implement the language policy more effectively,” he explained.
On the amendments, he said it should be implemented holistically, not only in terms of enforcement but also in internationalisation, accreditation and licensing of literary languages.
Before this, it was reported that the government would amend the DBP Act to allow them to take action against any violation of the Bahasa Melayu usage, including at the district level.
Malaysians are outraged
The rakyat did not receive the news well and quickly condemned the move. One user said, “This will deter people from using the language for fear of offending it. First time hearing a country doing this.”
“Institutionalised racism reinforced by yet another law. Poets, not judges, should promote a language’s beauty and dignity,” commented another.
Meanwhile, a few users also highlighted his statement’s vagueness as he did not precisely define what “does not respect” really meant.
What do you think of the move? Is it a good idea? Let us know in the comments.