Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm not sure how many of you out there realise that as producers for RTM, we are NOT allowed to use any other language in our dramas except for the national language. However, there are instances when we are allowed to do so.
That is why, if you watch local Malay dramas on Media Prima's channels and Astro's BM channels, you'd see the vast difference in dialogue.
Unlike RTM, the dramas produced for the non-Government channels proliferate in the use of words like I and You.
Dialogues are usually intersperse with English words - like, I suka pergi shopping or jom kita pergi clubbing etc etc. You know what I mean. It is very colloquial and very 'pasar'.
In RTM's dramas, you are not allowed to do that. They want local producers to uphold the integrity of our national language. Hence, either your dialogue is written in pristine Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka approved sentences or you may use some local or regional Malay dialects like Kelantanese or Penangite or Minangkabau.
If you really have to use English, it can be used in one perfect English sentence without conjoining it with the national language. But there was a time, even words like OK cannot be used.
In fact, most writers and producers have running battles with RTM to get words like shopping mall or handphone/cellphone in. Imagine the following dialogue: "Cik Mah, mari kita pergi membeli belah di pusat beli belah." Instead of "Cik Mah, mari kita pergi shopping mall."
How about : "Nanti saya telefon anda melalui telefon bimbit saya."
And: " Alamak, saya lupa lah nak bawa cakra padat yang mengandungi petikan video tu."
Look, I'm sure millions of Malaysians do speak like that, but sometimes, the characters that you want to create on TV cannot speak like that as it would totally kill the believability of the character itself.
It's like having to shoot a bar scene where the chief gangster goes to the bar, looking all so deadly and murderous, slams his fist on the bar and orders: "Satu gelas jus oren! Cepat!". Yes, this is the guy whom the audience is supposed to believe is capable of killing victims with his bare hands. "Harun, kau nak minum apa? Baiklah. Hoi, tukang jaga bar! Kawan aku nak minum susu segar!"
Look, I'm not one attack my own national language. Heck, the national language has been with us for eons and no one can destroy it. It has become what it is through time, absorbing words from other languages to be what it is today - a beautiful language. The Malay language is alive and dynamic. It is not static. It should be allowed to grow.
Words like 'gostan' for example is the Malay word that was formed by joining the words 'go astern'. The word 'jendela' for example has it roots from the Portuguese word 'janela'.
So why stifle the language?
Anyway, if the government is so concerned about the usage of Bahasa Malaysia in our daily use, do then take note of the following:
The website for the Kementerian Perpaduan, Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan (under which Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka resides) is
The website for the Kementerian Penerangan (which RTM resides under) is (moi stands for Ministry of Information).
The ruling party of Malaysia which is a Malay-based party uses the acronym UMNO which stands for United Malays National Organisation. It doesn't use the Malay acronym which is Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu.
In the quality campaign mooted by the government, the letter Q is used and not K.
So why the double standards?
FINAS wants us to make movies that states "Filem Kita Wajah Kita". The problem is: Wajah Kita Bukan Melayu sahaja. If we are allowed to make films in our own image, the screen would be full of colorful and interesting Malaysian characters. Not characters that speak proper Bahasa Malaysia all the time. It seems so fake most of the time.

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