KUCHING: Sarawakians are encouraged to write and publish more books to promote knowledge on local subjects and inculcate reading habits.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas urged authors and researchers to leverage on the rich diverse cultures, languages and abundant biodiversity in the state, and publish work on those topics.
“Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) monitors both the number and type of books published per country per year as it is an important index for standard of living as well as education.
“Malaysia is currently way behind the United States, United Kingdom and China.
“Based on our population, we should be publishing around 30,000 to 40,000 titles but statistics showed that we have not even reached 20,000,” Uggah said at the opening of the International Conference on Borneo Book Publishing and Borneo Book Fair 2017 here.
He added that the nation was short of book titles in history as well as biography, natural sciences, general title such as traditional, customs and folk literature.
“Sarawak has more than 40 ethnic groups with their own distinct language, culture and lifestyle.
“It will be beneficial if we can write about ethnic groups to help us understand each other better.
“Preserving indigenous knowledge through publications of folklore should be encouraged, as well as illustrated publications for the young to better appreciate the environment,” he said.
Uggah also spoke about the need to have biographies of emminent Sarawak leaders who contributed to the state development.
He advised libraries to purchase local publications to encourage more writing.
Publishers must also transform their business models and adapt to the digital era to strengthen sales and distribution of books and embark on ebook projects to attract younger readers.
The International Conference on Borneo Book Publishing and Borneo Book Fair 2017, which was held at the Waterfront Hotel and Plaza Merdeka, attracted hundreds of participants from Malaysia and Brunei.
In addition to the conference, there were also over 20 booths from various agencies.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the conference aimed to highlight the uniqueness of Borneo as a source for academic and creative writing, where the rich biodiversity and amalgamation of different cultural heritage continued to attract scholars worldwide.
“Unimas has published over 100 titles and is actively involved in numerous global partnerships and collaboration in the promotion of joint research and education programmes.
“We provide incentives to our researchers and beginning this year, we aim to publish at least 30 titles annually,” he said.