After the 66th Anniversary celebrations of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), board of governors chairman Prof Datuk Seri Awang Sariyan dropped a bombshell: those who do not respect the national language may face fines of up to RM50,000 or even sentenced to imprisonment in the future.

These are proposed amendments to the DBP Act 1959, which are in the final stages of discussion and will be presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in July.

According to the chairman, “The proposed fine is not to punish but to evoke love and patriotism to the country.” This apparently does not include grammatical or spelling errors — a small comfort for those who frequently failed their ‘ejaan’ tests in school.

Prior to this, the government stated it would amend the DBP Act to allow them to take action against violations of the usage of Bahasa Melayu. The PM has also previously reprimanded government agencies, government-linked companies and the private sector for placing priority of English over Bahasa Melayu.

Nevertheless, Malaysia is proudly a country with multiple cultures and languages. Citizens often use the languages colloquially, even mixing them all up in one sentence like this: “Eh macha, jom yum cha together lah!”.

Feedback from citizens has poured in after the announcement of the news, some stating that this may cause Bahasa Melayu to disappear altogether for a fear of saying the wrong thing.

There has also been widespread confusion as to the exact meaning of "not respecting the language".

Others proposed changing the names of government ministries and agencies that have English words in them:

Netizens even unearthed this list of banned language for the broadcast media by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which was prepared with the cooperation of the DBP.

This gives us an idea of the type of words they find unsuitable. So, no more calling our friends bongok??? That takes out all the fun out of life.

Also, imagine being imprisoned for this and your cellmate asks you what you got in for: “I called my friend ‘bangang’ then kena tangkap lah!”

Stay tuned to see how this plays out!

Image source:,,