PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem defended his recent decision to make English the preferred official language of the state, saying he was only being realistic and that “as long as we are on the Earth, we must learn and master English”. “Be more practical! Don’t think you are living on the moon: you are on the Earth. Even those living in Mongolia also have to learn English. As such, apart from emphasising on Bahasa Malaysia (BM), Sarawak is also stressing on English!” a Sin Chew Daily report today quoted Adenan as saying at the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 64th annual dinner in Kuching on Friday evening. The chief minister’s decision to adopt English as an official language alongside BM in Sarawak last Wednesday did not go down well with many netizens in Peninsular Malaysia although he had the overwhelming support of those in the state. Stressing the importance of English as the universal language to Malaysia as a trading nation, he said we could not expect businessmen from other countries such as the United States to speak BM. He said Singapore’s official languages include BM and Mandarin but English is the primary language used in the island republic. He also said the flip-flop policy in the national education policy had only confused students. Meanwhile, state Housing Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg had said that since Sarawak had never endorsed the National Language Act 1967, English is therefore still the official language in the state even though it also accepted BM as the official language. He said Adenan was merely upholding the state’s right under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 which allows Sarawak to retain English as the official language.