Putrajaya may soon enforce a fine of up to RM1,000 to anyone who is found guilty of using incorrect Bahasa Malaysia in public notices and advertisements, including those posted online
Quoting a "reliable but unnamed source" from Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau, Malaysiakini reported that Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP) will be empowered to enforce the measure if proposed amendments to the National Language Act 1963 and Education Act 1996 are passed in Parliament.
According to the source, the proposal has already been agreed in principle by Putrajaya.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid announced on Sunday, 12 November that the government is looking into granting DBP the power to take legal action against those who fail to uphold Bahasa Malaysia as the national language
According to New Straits Times, Mahdzir said that the proposal to upgrade DBP's role from reference body to enforcer of the national language will be deliberated in the next few weeks by a special Cabinet committee chaired by Deputy PM Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Education Ministry will act as secretariat for the committee, which also includes several ministries including the Urban Wellbeing, Housing, and Local Government Ministry and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI).
DBP Director-General Abdul Adzis Abas explained that the measure is meant to educate the public on proper usage of the national language, including on the Internet, to prevent contamination of the language
Despite having the power to impose a fine, DBP will first advised and correct "broken" Bahasa Malaysia before resorting to legal action
"Currently, DBP advises those who use improper Bahasa Malaysia on public notices and advertisements. We cannot take any action as advertisement permits are approved by local councils," Abdul Adzis said, adding that any inquiry on the proper usage of the national language can be directed to DBP.
In catching up with modern slang, DBP recently came up with a number of new Malay words for popular English terms like "selfie" and "viral":