It all started when a viral post published on November 14 disputed Pekan Subang road signs for having large Chinese characters above the names of the roads, where some are even larger than the Bahasa Melayu words.
Netizen Zack Rockstar said he wasn’t trying to be racist and contended that Jawi words used to be on road signs before getting removed as nobody knew how to read it.
It’s likely due to this post that the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that all signboards in Shah Alam with Chinese characters must be removed and replaced with only Bahasa Melayu, FMT reported.
The decree was made on November 19 through his private secretary Mohamad Munir Bani to the Selangor government.
It read, “The sultan has decreed that all road signs which are written in the Chinese language must be removed and replaced with signs in a single language, which is the Malay language.
“The change must be done immediately and should be completed before the Selangor Sultan’s 73rd birthday on Dec 1.”
Since then, The Star reported that an individual had vandalized a Shah Alam road sign by spraying black paint on the Chinese characters above “Jalan 2A”.
A voice behind the camera was heard saying that this action was in light of the decree and he was heard chanting long live the Sultan. In a second video found on Facebook, it saw them vandalizing another signboard as another person held the Malaysia flag upside down.
He was heard saying, “This is it. Bahasa Melayu is our national language,” as they defaced the Chinese words with black spray.
The comment section of the post was restricted but most comments were praising the vandals with words like “Semangat Melayu yang terbaik”, “Terbaik wahai pejuang2 bangsa Melayu dan agama Islam!”,”Tahniah diatas Keteguhan Mu Sebagai BANGSA MELAYU”……
“Minta semua poster sama yang ada tulisan bahasa cina merata tu kat jalan buang.”
“Throw those posters with Chinese characters as well,” wrote one netizen.
A quick look at the post likes, many fellow Chinese showed their disgust by giving “Angry” Reactions.
Perhaps where a Chinese was given a voice is in this Malay Mail report, where 68-year-old pensioner said the move didn’t bother him other than knowing the government would be spending tax money for the replacement work.
“I didn’t pay attention to all these. Even if the signboards are here, it’s no use. It’s still difficult to find your way here,” said elderly Ng Ket Leng when met at Subang Perdana.
“This one is just a waste of money. When finding routes here is already difficult, writing the road names in Chinese is of no use.
“This is not a problem at all. Let’s all not fight over this. It’s enough with just one language,” he said.
Provocation on both parties
It looks like the issue is a double-edged sword as defacing Chinese words is an act of humiliation to the rich history and complexity of the language but this uncle also had a point:
“Why must the Chinese wordings be on top and be prioritised?” asked 65-year-old self-employed Abdul Majid Sumal.
He was referring to the Chinese characters coming before the Malay-worded road signs, adding that the issue would have completely been avoided if the government didn’t approve the use of Chinese words on these signs.
“I was meaning to ask. Now, this is simple. Who did this, and who approved it? That person must face action, because this person, I am sure they know that in Malaysia, the Chinese language is secondary to Bahasa Malaysia.
“If the Chinese wordings are beneath, maybe we can still accept, but the Chinese language was placed first. So, it’s as if in Malaysia, the Chinese language is number one and Bahasa Malaysia falls to number two.”
You are right, uncle! Furthermore, some do appear bigger than the Malay words as Zack Rockstar contended.
Following the vandalism, Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) corporate communications head Shahrin Ahmad said that the council had adhered to the Royal Decree and the vandalized road sign would be removed.
“Immediate action will be taken to remove the (vandalised) road sign in the area. The replacement work will be carried out in stages and is expected to be completed soon,” The Star quoted him as saying.
Some netizens on the aforementioned viral post chastised the vandals for using black paint to cover the Chinese characters and it would prompt MBSA to remove them entirely. They suggested the vandals to leave the job to the authorities, or at the very least use a green paint to cover the words so that it would look indifferent.
FMT reported that the dual-language signboard was approved last year during a Selangor state executive council. Shahrin said a local government committee meeting on Jan 13, 2017, officiated the use of a second language other than Jawi on road signs.
It was a decision made by Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, said the MBSA head of PR.