con·tem·po·rar·y - Modern times in its generic sense, living, occurring, or existing, at the same time; often also used as a synonym for "modern" Ma·lay·sia - A country of southeast Asia consisting of the southern Malay Peninsula and the northern part of the island of Borneo.

Penampang: Efforts to preserve and popularise the Kadazandusun language have paid off as evidenced by its introduction as an alternative paper in the PMR examination starting next year.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said global migration and rapid advancement of information and communication technology has been identified as among factors that eroded the language and culture of the indigenous people in Sabah.

The trend nowadays, which is to master other languages such as English and Mandarin has also contributed to the decline, he said.

"So, it is indeed a good development to see our people can go global, but what worries us is the possibility of our mother tongue being forgotten in the future.

"So, it is high time that we preserve the language for future generations," he said at the launching of 11 children storybooks in Kadazandusun produced through the "Moyog Family Literacy Project" at Monsopiad Cultural Village, Friday.

Commending the Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF) for its effort in the preservation of the languages and cultures of the indigenous people, he was pleased to note that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has taken interest in the preservation effort.

Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre (ACCU) of Unesco and Centre of Excellence Programme for United Nation's Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was crucial in the production of the storybooks through the "Innovation Programme for ESD".

Dompok, who is also Penampang MP, said the idea to set up the KLF was mooted in 1994.

He said the aim was to preserve, develop and promote the Kadazandusun language.

He said the teaching of the language in government schools since 1998 was successful and now it is permanently entrenched in the education system.

"Next year, this subject will be introduced as an alternative paper in the PMR examination.

"I hope this success will guarantee our mother tongue continues to be spoken among our people," he said.

He said it is hard to master the Kadazandusun language these days since pupils and students learn other languages in school.

It was easier previously, he said, because most of the children spoke the language among themselves in the villages.

Hence, Dompok said the effort by the writers of the 11 storybooks from a remote village in upper Penampang at Kampung Togudon is really commendable to preserve indigenous knowledge and culture.

As MP of the constituency, he was proud that a local NGO shares the same concern in elevating the literacy capacity of rural families in Penampang.

At the launching, KLF announced local cartoonist Langkawit's latest book entitled "Langkawit Ansau-Ansau".

Also present were Director of State Museum Datuk Joseph Guntavid, KLF Chief Executive Director, Rita Lasimbang, Upko Secretary-General Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau and representative of Unesco ACCU, Masanori Kono.