Dubbing television films

Speech by Editor of Rocket, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, and DAP Organising Secretary, at the Rocket Second Anniversary Celebrations at Lee Wong Kee Café on Wednesday, August 14 at 5 p.m.

Recently, the government dubbed the popular television series, the Samurai, from English to Malay.

The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Inche Senu bin Abdul Rahman, subsequently announced that the experiment was a great success, and that other popular series were being dubbed as well. The next in line are ‘The Man from UNCLE’, ‘The Champions’ and ‘The Thriller’.

In fact, the dubbing of Samurai films have caused disappointment and unhappiness to many television viewers, who have ceased to enjoy the Japanese sword-fighting series, as they could not follow the dialogue and the story.

There is not even a single language sub-title to help viewers who are not proficient in Malay.

The least the Broadcasting authorities could have done is to provide other language sub-titles, as not to deprive enjoyment of the film by those not proficient in Malay. Every one, regardless of his language proficiency, pays $24 television licence every year.

Influential circles have declared that all television films would, in the process of time, by be dubbed in Malay – in accordance with the government policy to make Malay the sole official language.

A basic question of principle is involved here.

Firstly, the Malay-isation of all television programmes is clearly an infringement of Clause 152 of the Malaysian Constitution which guaranteed the sustenance and free use of other languages in Malaysia.

The position of Malay as the sole official language in Malaysia is clearly being interpreted to mean the decline and disuse of other languages – as being implemented in the television field.

This is a divisive and disruptive policy, and will create resentment among large sections of the non-Malay population. Furthermore, once television has been completely Malay-ised, it will probably be only a question of time before other media of mass communications, like cinema films, radio and even newspapers are required to conform – in other words, allowed to operate only if they are in Malay.

The government should give careful consideration before proceeding precipitately into this attempt to bring about the disuse and decline of other languages.

It is because we are convinced that in a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural society, only a liberal policy on language, giving equal place to all languages while recognising Malay as the national and common language, can unite the people, that the DAP has advocated language equality in this country.

It has been stated that those who can’t follow Malay dialogue in Samurai and other films are anti the national language, and disloyal. This is a tendentious argument.

The Minister of Education, Inche Khir Johari, announced in June this year that out of 90,000 Malay children in Standard Five who sat for the assessment examination last year, 45,000 of them failed in the National Language. Are such critic suggesting that all these 45,000 Malay children are anti the national language and disloyal to Malaysia?

The language question must be removed as a political issue. The question of educating the young generation of Malaysians to learn and master the National Language is looked after so long as the education system ensures that every student is proficient in the language after he or she leaves school.

But for those who did not have the benefit of language classes or proficiency, they should not be penalised by denied television films in his or her own language, and language sub-titles to understand other language television programmes.

In this connection, it is relevant to mention that the television does not help at all to teach the national language to non-Malay Malaysians.

The present language lessons carried by the programme are meant main entirely for English-speaking viewers. A Chinese or Tamil-speaking viewer will not be able to learn any national language at all.

We therefore suggest that national language lessons be taught in English, Chinese and Tamil, so as to popularise the language to ensure that it truly becomes the common national langue of language of a Malaysians of all races:

To sum, we propose:

1. There must be multi-lingual sub-titling for all television programmes, to permit people from all communities to enjoy the television programmes;

2. Dubbing of films should not be carried out at the expense of the decline and disuse of other languages, which infringes Clause 152 of Malaysian Constitution guaranteeing sustenance and free use of all languages.

3. Television Malaysia should carry programmes to teach the National Language to all language streams.

Audited on 2021-04-08.