After getting no aspirations in 2017, Malaysia back to try to propose Bahasa Melayu to be the second official language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year. However, the Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of Indonesia, Nadiem Makarim has rejected that proposal and instead brought up the advantages of the Indonesian language.

“With all the advantages that the Indonesian language has in terms of history, law, and linguistics, as well as how it has become an internationally recognized language, it is fitting that the Indonesian language sits at the forefront, and if possible be the medium of communication for official ASEAN meetings,” said Mr Makarim quoted from Kompas.

Reportedly, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that they would discuss with regional leaders about this proposal. One of the circumstances of this proposal is that Malaysia is not the only country that uses the Malay language and it is used in several ASEAN countries as well, such as Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Southern Philippines, and parts of Cambodia.

“I will discuss with the other leaders of ASEAN countries, especially those in countries that already use Malay. I will discuss with them on making Malay the second language in ASEAN. After that, we will discuss with other leaders of ASEAN countries that have populations who speak Malay,” said Mr Ismail Sabri quoted from, Wednesday (03/23).

Well, English has remained the de facto language of ASEAN since its founding in 1967 and it was codified as article 34 of the ASEAN Charter, which states that the “working language of ASEAN shall be English”. Given this situation, Malaysia’s prime minister was responding to a member of the Senate, Isa Ab Hamid who wanted to know about Malaysia’s efforts for this proposal, he told to Senate “at this time, only four out of 10 ASEAN countries use English in official events at the international level. Whereas six other countries use their mother tongues for official matters which require translation.”

The statement from Indonesian Minister then came after Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob visited Indonesia, and had informed Indonesian President Joko Widodo about his intention of this proposal.

Quoted from The Strait Times, Mr Makarim said that Bahasa Indonesia is a better option to be used as the main language for ASEAN, as it is the most used language in Southeast Asia, with its usage spread across more than 47 countries. Bahasa Indonesia was widely taught on many university campuses, including in Europe, the United States, Australia, and several Asian countries, he added.

However, his further statement on April 4 said that “as the Education and Culture Minister, I reject that proposal, but since there is an intention by our neighbor to make Bahasa Malaysia one of the official languages, surely it needs to be reviewed and debated further.”

Regarding this issue, many Indonesian people from individuals or even organizations speak about the Indonesian language to be the second language of ASEAN. Especially with the Twibbonize frames that they have been shared on any social media platform. Below are the several frames;

Saya Dukung Bahasa Indonesia sebagai Bahasa Asean

by Balai Bahasa Jawa Timur


Twibbon Bahasa Indonesia Menjadi Bahasa Asean

by Linda Arianti


Bela Bahasa Indonesia

by Kobe Azi07


Dukung Bahasa Indonesia Menjadi Bahasa ASEAN

by Mutiara Anastasya Doek


Bahasa Indonesia Menjadi Bahasa Resmi Kedua di ASEAN

by Balai Bahasa Kalimantan Barat



by Shafit Dirga


Bahasa Indonesia Menjadi Bahasa Asean

by Publikasi Kantor Bahasa Maluku


Bahasa Indonesia lebih layak menjadi bahasa resmi ASEAN

by Rachmat Bintang


The Southeast Asia region is very diverse in terms of race, culture, and language, but with this, the ASEAN member states need to preserve regional stability and order. Regardless of the frames, let’s hope that this issue will arrive at an agreement where both parties and other ASEAN state members can reach a consensus.