Sunday, July 21, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

The Indonesians may not like this. And I want this debate out because it can be taken out of context that will inflame some in Indonesia. But the truth is that the Indonesians generally are not speaking properly in Bahasa Melayu which they call Bahasa Indonesia as their slogan. 

They speak it with a thick Jawa accent and sprinkling it with many Jawa words so much so what is published in the newspapers are not legible to the Malays in Malaysia or other countries. The problem used to be so acute that it was very difficult for any Malay in Malaysia to read what was written in their papers and magazines before. But it is not so now and this is good news. The Indonesian intellectuals and politicians, however, speak standard and proper Malay as can be seen in the official website of the president of the country.

They were chided by former Indonesian president Suharto who asked its people to speak and write in Bahasa Indonesia (meaning Bahasa Melayu) better instead of infusing many Jawa words in it. Worse when they also speak in a thick Jawa accent.

The characters in the Indonesian television dramas as well as its entertainers and others whom we see on television or in press conferences also speak Bahasa Indonesia in thick Jawa accent.

Whereas, their leaders and intellectuals speak and write properly.

So it is high-time for the Indonesian government encourages its people to speak Bahasa Indonesia better.

In fact, the Indonesians in Bali who have their own dialects speak better Bahasa Indonesia than Jawa because they do not use the Jawa accent, which can be mistaken as the accent of the general population of Indonesia. It is not.

The people in Sumatera do not speak in any Jawa accent; it’s just those who are Jawa, for some strange reasons.

But my theory is that the Indonesian government through its ministry of education has failed to teach their students to speak Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Melayu properly that allowed them to continue to speak Bahasa Indonesia horribly.

Yes, I dare say most Jawa speak Bahasa Indonesia horribly. This can also be checked against the way they sing, where they do away with the Jawa accent and pronounce the words properly.

Why can’t they sing in a thick Jawa accent?

It is time for the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to get the schoolchildren to pronounce Bahasa Melayu words properly and write in the standard way instead of in their own different ways.

The Malays in Brunei speak better Bahasa Melayu than the Jawa.

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