Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced yesterday (20 March) that foreign students will be required to learn Bahasa Malaysia when they enrol at universities in Malaysia.
According to Malaysiakini, the PM said the higher education minister, Noraini Ahmad had agreed on the matter too.
Ismail also announced that the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Act would be amended to include enforcement powers, which would allow the agency to take action against those who put up Bahasa Malaysia signs containing errors.
Speaking at the UMNO general assembly as the vice-president, he told delegates the party must champion the use of Bahasa Malaysia which he hoped would become Asean’s second language.
He added that the language is the seventh most widely used language in the world, with more than 300 million people in Asean speaking Bahasa Malaysia.
“The time has come for us to be proud of Bahasa Melayu. Therefore, there is no reason for us to feel awkward when speaking the language even on the international stage because ‘Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa’ (Language is the Soul of the Nation),” he urged.
A Perak delegate, Azhar Ahmad, had said earlier at the event that the need to be proficient in Bahasa Malaysia was important as it is among the top 10 most popular languages in the world.
ICYMI, Ismail has pushed for broader use of the language internationally and said last month that government officials must use Bahasa Malaysia when speaking at conferences and other engagements abroad.