Today I wrote about my view on Esperanto and its movement in the Japanese version of 'Lily's Room'. The below is the old article related the Esperanto movement in Malaysia I found from my collected clippings in the 90s. (Lily)
‘Esperanto is a neutral language’ in New Straits Times, 23 June 1990
by Chan Sook Wai, Kuala Lumpur.
I AM pleased to note that at least somebody read my article “Esperanto may be the best solution” (NST, May 8). In response to the letter by “Objection” (NST, May 21), I wish to clarify certain matters.
First, the writer mentioned that Esperanto is not a neutral language because its root words are taken from European languages and none from the Chinese language, which is spoken by one quarter of the world’s population. It is true that Esperanto’s root words are from European languages but it has something in common with isolating languages like the Chinese language, and agglutinative languages like the Japanese and Swahili.
Do you know that the mainland Chinese form the majority of Esperanto speakers in the world? There are about a million Esperanto speakers in China alone. Not only that, Esperanto had been around in China ling before the Japanese occupation. Which means that Esperanto is very much alive and accepted by the Chinese.
“Objection” also said that the Chinese would not agree to my view because Esperanto does not include any Chinese root words. Well, you will be pleased to know that Chinese Government has recognised Esperanto as “the international language and neutral language” and has even set Esperanto courses in many universities where it is one of the majors. Radio Beijing also broadcasts in Esperanto every day for 30 minutes. If you are interested to hear this unique language, please tune to 19.78 m band SW on 15.165 kHz at 9-9.30 every night.
Chinese TV will also be broadcasting nationwide three time a week Esperanto lessons. This really shows that Esperanto is accepted by the Chinese, and not only in China but elsewhere.
Esperanto does not intend to replace any national languages but it only acts as a communication tool. So why should people feel threatened by it? The reason the Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Africans, Latin Americans and Europeans are in favour of Esperanto is because it does not belong to any country, hence it is known as a neutral language. If one can prove to me a language that includes root words from all the existing languages in the world and is both a written and spoken language, I will congratulate him.
Esperanto never aims or intends to replace one’s mother tongue; it only aims to be a communication tool among all nationalities. It acts in justice to all people. Everyone has to learn Esperanto in order to communicate and it belongs to no one.
Another reason why Esperanto is so popular among the Chinese and other Asian nationalities is that it is a phonetically-sounding language unlike English, German, French or for that matter other languages, It is pronounced as it is written. There is no hidden consonant. When one knows Esperanto, one can learn other languages easily because Esperanto is a logical language.
The French are known as anti-English because they claim that the French language is better than all others. But when it comes to Esperanto, they are in favour of it. Why? It is because Esperanto does not belong to any country and culture and is, therefore, not a threat to their culture.
Esperanto has a large following in Singapore where about 400 people have learned the language since May 1989. I feel that there is potential here if the people will just open their minds to accept new ideas and suggestions. One cannot live in this world and be narrow minded about new ideas. How can we improve ourselves if we do not want to accept new ideas, inventions and other improvements.
It was mentioned by linguists that the Malay language is very similar to Esperanto because both consist of root words and from which affixes are added to form new words.
At present, there are more than 15,000 root words from which thousands and thousands of words can be formed just by using affixes. From the 15,000 to 20,000 root wards, about 200,000 words can be formed just by using affixes to the roots. Isn’t it wonderful?
A few countries include Esperanto as one of the official tourist languages in places of interest. This is because Esperanto speakers travel widely for meetings and holidays using the service known as “Pasporta Servo”（Passport Service）, which enables Esperantists to stay as non-paying guests in the homes of Esperanto speakers around the world.
PS: Due to our relative's sudden passing away, I would like to close this site for a few days.