More than half of the 60,441 odd Malaysians surveyed read less than seven pages a day.Two books a year is the figure that the last survey in 1996 came up with, so on the face of it Malaysians are not reading any more than they were ten years ago, despite reading campaigns.
Those 10 years and above read about two books a year! (The figure excludes text books for students and books that are work-related for working adults.)
Also shocking is that most of those who read books and magazines, read less than three hours a week.
The older we get, the less we read.*
The survey also showed that 55 per cent of those aged 10 to 24, read books, compared to 39 per cent within the 25 to 56 age bracket. Only six per cent are those aged 57 and above.
Reading is not even the favourite pastime of Malaysians as most prefer to watch television and video.
The reading habit looks to be a thing of the past as the survey also unearthed the trend among the young who read only to acquire knowledge.
Most Malaysians read in Bahasa Melayu, followed by English. Reading in Jawi comes third and finally, Mandarin.
About 56 per cent of the respondents of the study were city dwellers and 44 per cent rural Malaysians.
Of the total number of respondents, 60 per cent were aged 10 years old and above and 99.9 per cent of them had formal education.
But this is strange: bookchains MPH and Borders though, report increasing sales and the book business locally is apparently worth two billion ringgit a year! What's happening?
Maybe Malaysians are buying books but not reading them!
I came across this very interesting study about the readership habits of Malaysian students by Dr. Ambigapathy Pandian of USM.
It strikes me as very odd that I have so far met no-one (in the media or education field) who has had a chance to read the National Library study. Apparently at the press conference, the journalists had to be content with a few figures hastily scribbled down on a piece of paper by the minister. Shouldn't there be more transparency?