Bruneians should lessen the use of bahasa rojak or Malay infused with other languages in conversation, said the head of Magazine and Journal Planning Department at the Language and Literature Bureau (DBP).
Speaking to The Brunei Times during a roadshow at Lamunin Primary School yesterday, Hjh Sariani Hj Ishak commented that the development of technology has facilitated the widespread use of bahasa rojak.
"This is a very sad phenomenon. We are afraid that in the future the purity of the Malay language will be affected," she said.
She explained that bahasa rojak is often combined with the use of words in abbreviated spelling, known as text speak. Hjh Sariani pointed out that it could lead to a deterioration of writing skills. "This is what I found out from language teachers," she said.
The department head also stated that the Malay language is in danger of dying out due to the rise of bahasa rojak.
"That's a very scary scenario, especially when I found out that some of the younger generation can't speak Malay although their parents are Malay. We have to hold onto the Malay language, because it is what differentiates Brunei from other countries," she said.
Hjh Sariani believes that a lack of nationalism in a person and the allure of foreign language contributes to the disregard of the Malay language among Bruneians.
"They have a preference for the English language. It's almost as if they idolise it. You are Bruneian and you live in a Malay country. You have your own language, which is Malay. Language is part of our identity. Without language, who are we?" she remarked.
She advised the people to "keep inside their hearts and remind themselves that they are Bruneian" in order to cultivate and build nationalism.
"There are Bruneians who have studied abroad for several years claim they can't speak Malay as fluent as before. That's a shame. Some of my friends who have been in the United Kingdom for 17 years can still speak Malay fluently."
When asked for her thoughts on Bruneians who lack fluency in the Malay language due to having been raised abroad, Hjh Sariani said that such incidents (of not being able to speak Malay fluently) is "very sad".
"I watched a video on YouTube about a video of this Malaysian child who was raised in Germany, but she can speak fluent Malay. I'm very proud that she can still maintain her Malay," she said.
Hjh Sariani advised Bruneian parents who are raising their children abroad to cultivate nationalism and "remind them not to forget about where they come from".
"The funny thing is those people who have only been living abroad for several years and they pretend they can't speak Malay or that they don't eat traditional food. Hopefully these kind of people recall their roots," she remarked.
To overcome the prevalence of bahasa rojak and disregard for the Malay language, she added that the DBP has ongoing activities "to remind them to use the language in a proper way".
"We are Malay. We are living in a Malay society that adopts the Islamic Malay Monarchy (MIB). We should prioritise the Malay language," she said.