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Sarawak will still accept letters in English, says state secretary

State secretary Abu Bakar Marzuki says the East Malaysian state has no intention of complying with the directive from the prime minister to government agencies. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak will continue to accept official correspondence written in English from local companies or public and private institutions despite Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s “reminder” not to entertain any letter that is not in Malay.

State secretary Abu Bakar Marzuki said the East Malaysian state has no intention of complying with the directive from the prime minister to government agencies, The Borneo Post reported.

“That does not apply in Sarawak,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier today, Anwar reminded local companies and universities to correspond with government agencies in Malay, noting that there was “deviation” from the constitutional commitment to uphold Malay as the national language.

Article 152 of the Federal Constitution states that Malay is the national language, while the position of the Malay language is also specified in the National Language Act 1967.

Anwar also said that anyone who wrote in a language other than the national language “will have their letter returned.”

This is not the first time Sarawak has held opposing views with the federal government when it comes to language-related policies.

In June last year, Sarawak premier Abang Johari Openg said the state civil service would continue using English as the official language alongside the national language – Malay.

His comments were in response to Chief Secretary to the Government Zuki Ali’s May 24 statement where he wanted the public services department (JPA) to look into actions that could be taken against those who did not take instructions to strengthen the national language seriously.

Abang Johari said the Federal Constitution clearly stated that the use of English was allowed for Sabah and Sarawak High Court proceedings, or for proceedings in the Federal Court or Court of Appeal.