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Indonesian minister rejects ASEAN language proposal

JAKARTA (CNA) – Indonesia’s Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim has rejected Malaysia’s suggestion to make Malay the second language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In a written statement released on Monday, Makarim said it is more feasible to consider the Indonesian language as an ASEAN language.

“I, as the Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, of course reject the proposal.

“However, due to the desire of our neighbouring friend to propose Malay as the official language of ASEAN, of course, this desire needs to be studied and discussed further at the regional level.”

He added, “I urge the entire community to work hand in hand with the government to continue to empower and defend the Indonesian language.”

The minister’s statement came after Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on April 1 that President Joko Widodo has agreed to Putrajaya’s suggestion to propose Malay as a language of ASEAN one day. Speaking alongside Widodo in a joint press conference during his working visit to Jakarta, the Malaysian leader said, “We agree to propose to strengthen the Malay language, so it may one day become an ASEAN language.”

Makarim also wrote in his Monday statement that at the international level, Indonesian has become the most common language in Southeast Asia.

He claimed that it was being spoken in 47 countries.

The Indonesian language has also been taught to foreigners by 428 institutions, and also as a subject in a number of campuses in Europe, the United States, Australia, as well as at universities in Asia, said the former Gojek CEO.

“With all the advantages that Indonesian has from historical, legal and linguistic aspects, and how Indonesian has become an internationally recognised language, it is appropriate that Indonesian is in the leading position, and if possible, becomes the working language for official ASEAN meetings,” he added.