Guan Eng under fire over Chinese-only statement
PETALING JAYA - Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has received flak from politicians and Malaysians alike after he had issued a statement in Chinese – ironically, to defend his use of trilingual statements for certain ministerial matters.
Lawyer Azhar Harun said the Federal Constitution guarantees Malaysians the right to use one’s mother tongue language, but pointed out that the official language of the country is Bahasa Malaysia (BM).
“You are issuing a press statement and conducting a press conference as part of discharging your official duties.
“Don’t be arrogant and dismissive of this. You are really pushing it. There’s a limit to ‘new Malaysia’,” he said in a Facebook post on Monday (June 25).
“I am not racist and I am not talking about Malay rights or the proverbial ‘memartabatkan (strengthening) BM”. But, please do your job as a Minister should be,” he added.
Azhar, popularly known as “Art Harun”, pointed out that Lim had once proudly proclaimed himself as “I am not Chinese, I am Malaysian”.
“You are showing the wrong signal. The wrong attitude,” he added.
On Sunday (June 24), Lim issued a statement purely in Mandarin to defend his use of trilingual official Finance Ministry statements on Facebook, which infuriated social media users and politicians as many had to rely on translation tools to understand his comments.
Johor Umno liaison chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said he regarded Lim’s statement as rude, insulting and an attempt to undermine the position of BM in government affairs.
“As a country that uses BM as an official language, such an action clearly does not respect the Federal Constitution and the administration of the country,” he said in a statement issued Monday (June 25).
Khaled said the Government must be sensitive in such issues and urged Lim to issue a public apology over the matter.
“And as a reminder, the apology statement must be issued in BM,” he added.
Among those who had criticised Lim on social media was Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin.
“All statements when released in Malaysia should first be in Bahasa Melayu, then English, then any other language necessary.
“If you are in London then I presume you will release it in English first, then the translation can be Bahasa/ Mandarin/ French, etc. If you are in China, then at a press conference in China, release it in Mandarin first, then English,” Ameer added.
Lim, in his Mandarin statement on Facebook on Sunday, had used the Federal Constitution to defend himself, claiming that the use of one’s mother tongue is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
“In this constitutional spirit, what is wrong with the distribution of press releases in Chinese or other languages?” he said.
In dismissing his critics’ remarks as racist, Lim said he would not bow down to their attacks.
“The statement of the Finance Minister will continue to be published in BM and English, and if necessary, a Mandarin translation will be made available.
“I hope that other high-ranking government officials will follow suit,” he added.