Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's defence of issuing official statements in Mandarin is unacceptable, Umno presidential candidate Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
According to Khairy, Lim is attempting to set a new government practice on language use, and accused the DAP leader of preventing the promotion of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
"Even if the statement was meant for an international audience, why couldn't it be in English?
"There is no concrete reason to use Mandarin.
"My concern is this act will continue to fan the flames of anger among the majority who are feeling increasingly threatened in recent weeks," Khairy said in a Facebook posting.
In a statement, former Johor menteri besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin described Lim's action as insolent and an insult to the status of Bahasa Malaysia.
Pointing out that it was not a personal or unofficial statement, he said the minister's press release concerned official government matters and public interest.
The Umno vice-presidential candidate also recalled how Lim had said “I am not Chinese, I am Malaysian” with upon first being appointed finance minister.
Last Thursday, Lim held a press conference and issued a written statement containing policy updates on the Tun Razak Exchange project in three languages.
Following this, the Friends of BN Facebook page and other critics attacked Lim for issuing an official statement in Mandarin along with those in Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Yesterday, he attracted further criticism when he posted an all-Mandarin clarification on the earlier trilingual statement on Facebook.
Lim explained that providing a Mandarin translation for his statement does not mean that he was trying to lower the status of other languages, and pointed out that Mandarin was protected under Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
His press conference last Thursday, prior to handing out the written statement, was conducted primarily in Bahasa Malaysia.
During his 10-year tenure as Penang chief minister, Lim had been issuing bilingual or trilingual statements on a regular basis.
Malaysiakini has contacted Lim for comment.