Malay literary world urged to be multi-racial


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 12 Apr 2003

BY JACQUELINE ANN SURIN

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malay literary world is guilty of confining Malay literature to its own community instead of being multi-racial in its approach, Deputy Information Ministry Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said. 

He said that in some ways, the Malays wanted Malay literature to belong to them alone, citing a Malay literary figure who had taken RTM to task for broadcasting an Aidilfitri poetry reading by an Indian. 

“They have not been proactive in propagating multi-racial themes,” he said yesterday at Angkasapuri after launching an anthology of poems by Lim Swee Tin entitled Citra Kurnia

He said some Malays wanted to believe Bahasa Malaysia belonged to the Malays, and not to Malaysians, and some even protested when a Christian sermon was delivered in Malay. 

Zainuddin and Lim Swee Tin after the launch of Lim's anthology of poems.

Describing such attitudes as narrow-minded, chauvinistic and ultra-nationalist, he said: “I can’t stand this.” 

Zainuddin said he had spoken to the Malay literary community before and found very few of them supported his views. 

“Non-Malay communities such as the Chetty and Baba communities also have a love for Malay poetry,” he said, expressing the hope that Malaysia could produce other non-Malay literary figures like Lim. 

Lim was awarded the SEA Write Award in 2000, the highest literary award in the region, by the Thai government and had won several national prizes before. 

Zainuddin said the ministry was aggressively promoting a more multi-racial approach by encouraging more non-Malay reporters, news readers and programmes on RTM.  

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