Language Policy

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 241–260 | Cite as

Language Policy in Malaysia: Reversing Direction

  • Saran Kaur Gill


After Independence in 1957, the government of Malaysia set out on a program to establish Bahasa Melayu as official language, to be used in all government functions and as the medium of instruction at all levels. For 40 years, the government supported a major program for language cultivation and modernization. It did not however attempt to control language use in the private sector, including business and industry, where globalization pressure led to a growing demand for English. The demand for English was further fuelled by the forces of the internationalization of education which were met in part by the opening of English-medium affiliates of international universities. In 2002, the government announced a reversal of policy, calling for a switch to English as a medium of instruction at all levels. This paper sets out to analyze the pressures to which the government was responding.

Key words

Bahasa Melayu economics English language modernization language planning language policy language reversal politics and nationalism science and technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Language Studies and LinguisticsUniversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Faculty of Social Sciences and HumanitiesBangiMalaysia

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