In Part 4, Sinjoro Eng presents a final call for the preservation of language.
I do not anticipate a good response to the call of protecting the endangered languages in Malaysia.
If there are a few, I am blessed.
In this final part, I would not go any further beyond hoping that those who have spent time reading the previous three parts would benefit from their mini lecture format via the short films.
Certainly, the government plays a very important role in protecting the minority languages disappearing from Malaysia. It would be hard for the UNESCO to accept the fact that the authority and the people are not working hard enough to let our multicultural and multilingual ways flourish in the hot tropical sun.
Politician, Zaid Ibrahim tweeted the status below:
RT @zaidibrahim I am a great believer in cultural values. U look at the values, the DNA of the group; and u can tell whats possible with that group
It is up to you do interpret his meaning, whether he is in support of the move to protect endangered languages or just a regular guy expressing his opinion during his free time.
Time is running short. I certainly do not hope that we use modern tools to record the scene and place it in the museum of languages like the short films in the previous parts suggested.
It can be a wake up call to few or to many. I leave it to Malaysians to think of how the future of languages in this country should be. Will it just be left under the care of the government, or the rakyat when the government fails to do their part to protect the treasures which were endowed to us long before the nation we know as Malaysia was officially formed.
What surprised me was that according to the report from UNESCO, our national university, Universiti Malaya is a part of the culture preservation team, but we do not see other local universities taking part in the project. I certainly do not dream for school textbooks to mention the endangered languages either.
As described in the UNESCO report:
This spirit of solidarity is also embodied in the UNESCO Club founded at the University of Malaya in 2007. Mrs Bokova signed a certificate formalizing the creation of the Malaya University UNESCO Club, that now brings together all UNESCO clubs across the country. Affirming that the Clubs were partners in peace and dialogue with UNESCO, students briefed Mrs Bokova about some of their activities, ranging from celebrations of World Philosophy Day, marking Earth Hour to organizing cultural exchange programmes.
The University of Malaya counts some 30,000 students and some 2,200 academic staff. The Director-General was welcomed by the University’s Vice Chancellor and the Director of its Center for Civilizational Dialogue.
The Orang Asli themselves might not be able to read these articles; however, I do believe few of the members are able to do so as I have seen their websites. Unfortunately, my communications with them did not work out. I hope these articles which I have written in very simple English will serve in providing you a little knowledge of the treasures we are losing. Our land will not move away, but our language can not be revived and the great knowledge of our ancestors cannot be retrieved from heaven.
I hope the University of Malaya or other institutions can do something about this. It is not just about languages, but the culture, artwork, songs and dances of the Orang Asli — all of them great treasures of the world.
Mother tongue-based education has been shown to be the most effective. Not too much has been done in the Philippines, but they have, however, won many cases of the right to education being provided in their mother tongue.
May I share the words of Rita Izsak , a UN Independent Expert on minority issues :
Historical factors such as colonialism have had a huge global impact on languages resulting in the marginalization of indigenous and minority languages and a rapid decline in their use. The introduction of colonial languages in Africa, Asia and the Americas initiated the marginalization of native and minority languages. Colonial languages were promoted in education, administration, political life and communications. Minority and indigenous languages were often seen as backwards, a barrier to colonial hegemony, or retarding national development. Equally it can be argued that today globalization is having a direct and detrimental impact on minority languages and linguistic diversity as global communications and market places require global understanding.
This talk by Patricia Ryan will hopefully help you understand why I am talking about and promoting Esperanto all the time.
Looking at the other side of the planet earth, there seem to have happy voices singing through the banjo. Could we have that in Malaysia too?
The final part of this series will be this call to action from UNESCO. I hope Malaysians will finally understand why UNESCO and the rest of the world are working hard to maintain our beautiful planet not only in sight, but also in sound.
Featured image is The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.