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Go ahead and use English, Abang Johari tells Sarawak civil servants

Premier Abang Johari Openg says the Sarawak constitution allows for both English and Malay to be used in official matters.

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Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama
Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama

The Sarawak civil service will continue to use English as its official language along with Bahasa Malaysia, Premier Abang Johari Openg said yesterday.

He said this stand was in accordance with the Sarawak constitution, under which both languages could be used in official matters.

“I hope this will be free from polemics. Sarawak, we got our own stand. Go ahead and use English. We will not be penalised for using English. Sarawak civil servants, you can use English. Federal officers, I don’t know lah because your master is different,” he said.

Speaking at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sarawak Foundation in Kuching, Abang Johari said although some quarters attributed Japan’s success to their people speaking the local language, students from that country would still have to learn English when they studied in Europe or the US.

“Whether you like it or not, to acquire new technology or new knowledge you must have (a good command of) English to understand what is going on throughout the world,” he said.

On May 24, Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali said the Public Service Department needed to look into corrective and punitive actions that could be imposed on those who deliberately take lightly Service Circular No. 1 2020 on empowering the use of the national language in public service.

He said this was because in the civil service, the move to strengthen the Malay language as the main language among agencies and civil servants had always been the top priority.