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Non-Malays Compete In Malay Language Oratory

Last update: 08/07/2011
By Nurul Halawati Azhari

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) -- The first Malay Language Oratorical Competition for non-Malays was well-received.

A total of 173 participants from across the nation entered the competition, organised by the Information Department of Malaysia.

The state-level 1Malaysia Oratorical Competition, which began in April, is open to non-Malays aged 18 and above. So far, Chinese make up the largest number of participants, at 71, followed by Indians (60), while the remaining 42 participants are of Iban, Dusun, Kadazan and Thai descent.

Fifteen participants, representing every state, will participate in the finals on July 19. The competition will take place at the Kraftangan Malaysia Amphitheatre, at the Craft Complex in KL.

Information Director-General Ibrahim Abdul Rahman said the competition was conducted under the National Language Culturalisation Campaign, aimed at promoting the use of the national language among people.

"The 1Malaysia Oratorical Competition is one of the methods to present and disseminate information on governmental policies, particularly on Gagasan 1Malaysia (1Malaysia concept). It fulfills the objective of the concept by promoting the usage of the national language," said Ibrahim.


He said, the competition was expected to be an annual affair, and the Information Department was targeting an increase in participation next year.

It is also seen as a continuation of the Nationhood Oration Competition that was, previously, open to all races. However, the current format seeks to attract greater non-Malay participation.

Ibrahim said the competition, themed 'The 1Malaysia Concept a Platform to National Unity', gave participants the opportunity to improve on their knowledge of the concept and the country's policies.

"The mastery and culturalisation of the Malay language, as the national language among non-Malays, is very important, as it is the foundation of unity, and will sow love for the nation," he said.

Ibrahim said the department would continue running campaigns to promote the national language.

"Language is the heart of the nation. It is important to use it properly. When talking in Malay, do not mix it with other languages," he said.

After the finals, participants will join the Information Department to train a new batch of orators, and share with them their knowledge and experiences.

Ibrahim said the winner of the competition would have the opportunity to participate in future programmes by the Information Department, to encourage greater non-Malay participation.


Former teacher Pui Tion Gee Awang Abdullah, 58, who is representing Terengganu in the contest, said orating was not as simple as it sounded. He said although many people could speak in public, it was difficult to do so with finesse and ease.

Although experienced in oratory, Pui said public speaking was not a skill that could be acquired through formal education.

"Orating is an ability that is nurtured and developed. Speaking as a former teacher, I believe these kinds of competitions should be held in schools, especially for non-Malays," he said.

Perak is represented by chemical engineering student Tan Seng Yee, who is studying at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP). Tan said the competition reminded him of his orating days in primary school.

"I was excited at the chance to enter, when I was told about it by the UTP Rukun Negara Secretariat. I promptly starting working on the text of my 1Malaysia speech, getting as much information as possible from the Information Department official website.

"This competition has helped me a lot in understanding the meaning of unity under 1Malaysia, especially while researching for the best topic," he said.

Tan suggested the organizers improve the programme further by offering short-term courses in oration, to participants.

Meanwhile, general studies teacher Selvi Permal, who is representing Selangor, said the 1Malaysia unity concept was not limited to those in the education field. It also applied to those who were not students, or were in the civil services.

Selvi, who often volunteers for community projects and character-building camps, agreed that competitions such as this communicated a strong message of unity.