Simplified or traditional characters for Malaysian heritage zone road signs: poll

Parts of Penang, Malaysia’s George Town are scheduled to get some new street signs that will include Chinese characters. (Penang has a high concentration of ethnic Chinese.) Controversy over whether to pick traditional Chinese characters or simplified Chinese characters has led authorities there set up an online poll to help resolve the matter.

Voting began today and will continue until Sunday, October 25, at

The site also provides some photos of signs.

The signage project, which involves putting up a total of 300 bilingual road signs on 82 roads, is expected to cost RM45,000 (US$13,400, or about US$45 per sign).

source: Online poll to pick Chinese road signs, The Star, October 10, 2009

Malaysia exams not to be restricted to English yet

Plans to have primary and secondary students in Malaysia use only English in their exams for science and mathmatics have been put on hold. Instead, the government’s current policy of allowing students to answer in English, Bahasa Malaysia, or the language of their school (such as “Chinese” or Tamil) will remain in force for at least a few more years, Malaysian Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced earlier this week.

The teaching of science and math in English has been phased in over several years.

Hishammuddin said secondary students would also continue to have the dual-language option although many of them have a “decent command” of English.

He said the weak students were mostly from the rural areas.

“I will not do things on an ad hoc and piecemeal basis. I want to do it (using English) as a whole.

“I want the foundation to be solid (at the primary level) before we look at the secondary schools,” he said.

He added, however, that many secondary students chose to do the papers in English.

Citing matriculation students, he said 95% of them did their papers in English.


see also teaching in English in Malaysia, Pinyin News, February 3, 2006

Malaysia deems some names ‘unsuitable’

Malaysia’s National Registration Department has compiled a list of personal names deemed “unsuitable.” Parents will be blocked from having their children registered under these names. Among the groups contributing to the compilation of the list are the Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia, the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, and the Universiti Malaya Tamil Language Association.

Parents will be prevented from bestowing upon their children specific names in a variety of languages (including Cantonese and Hoklo/Hokkien/Taiwanese). In addition, entire categories of names — such as the names of animals, colors, fruits, and vegetables — will also be blocked. Numbers and initials are also to be denied approval.

According to Jainisah Mohd Noor, a spokeswoman for the National Registration Department, parents who insisted upon using a name on this list could appeal to the department.

“We can only advise them, but if they are insistent even after knowing they are unsuitable, they may be allowed to use them,” Jainisah said.

I haven’t been able to find a copy of the list. Perhaps it’s on the National Registration Department’s Web site; but that’s only in Malay.

Here are some “unsuitable” names from Sinitic languages, as given in the news stories below. I’m just copying these from the news stories listed below, so don’t blame me for the romanizations.

  • Ah Kow (dog)
  • Ah Gong (unsound mind)
  • Chai Too (pig)
  • Kai Chai (chick)
  • Sum Seng (gangster)
  • Ah Chwar (snake)
  • Khiow Khoo (hunchback)
  • Chow Tow (smelly head)
  • Sor Chai (insane)

Here are some forbidden names from other languages:

  • Zaniah (female adulterer)
  • Zani (male adulterer)
  • Woti (sexual intercourse)
  • Karruppan (black fellow)
  • Sivappi (fair)
  • Vellayan (fair)
  • Amma-kannu (mother’s eye)
  • Batu Malai (stone hill)

You will also have to prove your lineage if you want your child to carry the prefix Ungku, Engku, Ku, Syed or Syarifah to your name.

Names with officials titles such as Tun, Tan Sri or Dato’ Wira Jaya, Haji, Nabi, Rasul, Guru, Ustaz and Hakim are also out.