The “flip-flop” of Bahasa Malaysia

Do you know? Series  #1 

Dear Sir,

 Re: Bahasa Malaysia


After Merdeka students sitting for their Form Five or School Certificate Education have two subjects in their curriculum. One is Bahasa Kebangsaan which when translated to English is the National Language. The other is Bahasa Melayu which when translated to English is the Malay Language.

If one sits for the Senior Cambridge Examination, one has to pass the English Language (which is compulsory) in order to pass the overall examination. Similarly to qualify for the Federation of Malaya Certificate one has to pass the subject Bahasa Kebangsaan (which is compulsory) in order to pass the overall examination. The highest mark one can get for Bahasa Kebangsaan is a “7”. An “8” is also a pass. Category “9” is a failure.

However at the same time there is also a subject called Bahasa Melayu.If one sits for this paper and if one passes the subject one automatically passes the Bahasa Kebangsaan. As time goes on the FMC was renamed the Malaysia Certificate of Examination. After that the subject Bahasa Kebangsaan was scrapped. Only the subject Bahasa Melayu remains.                           

On the other hand, the National Language of the country then is still called  Bahasa Kebangsaan but then  Bahasa Kebangsaan is actually Bahasa Melayu. Tan Sri Rahman Ya’cob the then Minister of Education during the 70s changes the term Bahasa Kebangsaan to Bahasa Malaysia which is the most appropriate for the country.

Then  come the late 80s Bahasa Malaysia changes to  Bahasa Melayu – something in my opinion is not that appropriate. Now we are going back to the term Bahasa Malaysia  which is again appropriate.

So the country saw its national language terminology evolution from Bahasa Kebangsaan to Bahasa Malaysia. Then Bahasa Malaysia to Bahasa Melayu and then back to Bahasa Malaysia. It went through a full circle. Of course, the  Malay Language or  Bahasa Melayu still exists. Alongside Bahasa Melayu is the English Language, Latin, Esperanto, Mandarin etc., etc.,

Yours truly,


James One


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