IT’S certainly hats off to Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, the mayor of Kuala Lumpur, for his idea and initiative to put up several book kiosks around town aimed at instilling reading habit among city folks.
While it is disgusting to read from news reports that some of the kiosks were vandalised barely two days after they were installed, I was also dismayed when I found out the whopping cost – about RM4mil – of the book kiosk project, which is part of the events to celebrate Kuala Lumpur’s success in being designated World Book Capital for 2020 by Unesco.
Undoubtedly, being declared a World Book Capital is worth commemorating as it places KL among the “first class” cities of the world in this aspect. But we shouldn’t be expected to spend so much to promote books and reading or to organise related activities throughout the year, unlike cities in developed countries that can afford to do so.
Everyone knows for a fact that we have first-class facilities when it comes to infrastructure. However, this is being compromised by the third world mentality of our population.
Vandalism in public spaces occurs just about everywhere, even in super cities the world over, but this “sick mentality” is more prevalent in third world or developing countries where the homeless and “street vagabonds” rule.
City Hall Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) should have known better. For years, road signs, metal drain covers and even potted plants have gone missing or been vandalised, what more the beautiful book kiosks in public spaces.
I don’t think we have “come of age” to just pick up a book and read it on public transport or bring it to the office or home and return/exchange it the way it is done in cities in developed nations.
I remember the “Book on the Go” campaign, which was carried out at LRT stations some time ago. It just fizzled into oblivion.
As a book lover and “book activist” myself, I believe DBKL could do better by helping to promote and fund active book activities like BookStreet @Amcorp Mall, Pasar Buku Bangi and KL Book Exchange, to name a few.
Another idea would be to set up book lanes or book streets, similar to those in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, complete with book cafés. This has proven to be a success with both locals and tourists alike in Vietnam.
ZARI MALAYSIANA , Petaling Jaya
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