KUCHING (Nov 30): Sarawak has the option to use English or Bahasa Malaysia as its official language as provided under the Federal Constitution, according to Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Citing Article 161 of the Federal Constitution on additional protections for Sabah and Sarawak, he said it states that Sarawak has the freedom to continue using English and also its native languages together with Bahasa Malaysia as the official medium of communication.
Wan Junaidi said as of Tuesday (Nov 30), Sarawak had not passed any ordinance or enactment in the Sarawak legislation to restrict or terminate the use of English as its official language as stated in Article 161(3) of the Federal Constitution, the Inter-Governmental Committee and the Cobbold Commission reports.
He also said Section 1(2) of the National Language Act 1963/67 (Revised 1971) provides that with regard to Sabah and Sarawak, the respective state authorities may adopt the National Language Act by enactments of the legislature of the respective states.
“This means that Sarawak, upon a closer look at the wordings of the said National Language Act, has the liberty to decide as to whether they would adopt the national language, which is Bahasa Malaysia, or to continue using English as the official language.
“At present, there have not been any ordinance or enactment that have been brought and passed in Sarawak’s state legislature to adopt the Malay language as the official language,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Wan Junaidi, the National Language Act states that the Malay language is the official language for all official purposes with some limitations stated in S1(2) with regard to the position of the national language of Sabah and Sarawak.
“However, Sarawak has not adopted the National Language Act as no law has been passed in the state legislature to extend the said Act to Sarawak as required under Article 152, read together with Article 161 of the Federal Constitution.
“Hence, Sarawak, unlike other states in the Federation, is not required to use the national language in its official purposes,” he added.