JOHOR BARU - Despite it being one of the major dialects in the Chinese community, the Federation of Hokkien Associations of Malaysia is worried that the dialect will slowly be forgotten among the youngsters.
"Apparently, they seem to prefer to speak in Mandarin among their friends and this practice is reflected at home as well," said its honorary president Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng.
Hokkien families should continue speaking the dialect at home so that the younger generation would have a chance to learn the language, he said after opening the federation's annual general meeting here yesterday.
The federation is the umbrella body of 190 Hokkien associations throughout the country.
Recalling the old days, Lee said most of the clansmen would speak Hokkien at home and with their elders, thus creating a strong foundation for them.
"But as time passes, many young Hokkiens do not know how to speak the dialect or have only minimal command of it," he said.
The federation's national president, Datuk Khoo Chai Kaa, quipped that the best way to learn the dialect was to find a partner who was a Hokkien as well.
"Like learning any other languages, you can improve by speaking to each other frequently so that the practice will not be lost as time passes," he added.
During the opening address earlier, Lee urged both the Government and opposition parties to work towards uniting the people rather than playing up issues that could affect the peace that had been fostered among the different races in Malaysia.
"All parties should cooperate to ensure that our multi-racial country will enjoy continuous harmony and understanding," he stressed.
Johor Baru Hokkien Association chairman Datuk Teo Poh Boon also called on the Government to come up with fair policies that benefit the people.