‘Keling’ widely used and accepted, says Rais

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 02 Aug 2003

KUALA KLAWANG: The word “keling” has been widely used and accepted by the people in the country since 1896, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said. 

He said the word “keling” was used to describe Indian nationals from the Kelinga district years ago.  

“In my opinion, this is a relatively small issue to be taken up by any party as a point of their struggle. 

“Should any party feel aggrieved over the matter, then they should conduct a thorough study on its repercussions based on history and its various meanings in the dictionary. 

“I will urge the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to explain the issue in a more precise manner,” he told reporters in Kampung Parit Gong, Pertang, near here yesterday, after presenting cash, seeds and fertilizer to orang asli to replant rubber trees.  

Dr Rais was asked to comment on the action taken by Angkatan Pelopor India Muslim Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan in seeking a declaration from the High Court over DBP’s use of the word “keling” in its Kamus Dewan dictionary. 

The association is also seeking compensation, to be determined by the court for the use of the words which it claimed had embarrassed and humiliated the Indian community in Malaysia. 

Dr Rais said the matter should not be blown out of proportion as the historical aspects pertaining to the word, needed to be looked into. 

“Even if any party is to initiate a legal proceeding, I will be glad to answer it off-the-cuff,” he said.  

In a separate matter, Dr Rais said it was not an offence for the media to publish names and photographs of suspects taken to court for remand. 

“The only problem which may arise is that during the course of investigations, the suspect is found not guilty of the alleged crime. 

“He may then initiate a defamation suit against the media,” he said.  

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