This year I am celebrating my tenth anniversary of this so-called war. ... It all began when I submitted a collection of short stories to DBP for publication. The collection comprised stories from ten Malaysian Indian writers including myself. In the foreword I wrote, an editor in DBP wanted to change the word "Bahasa Malaysia" to "Bahasa Melayu". When I still wanted to use the term "Bahasa Malaysia", he started to lecture me that the term doesn’t exist. The matter was even taken up to (prime minister) Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was then the education minister. He made a statement to the press that it was all right to use the term "Bahasa Malaysia". But DBP said it’d only publish the book if I used the term "Bahasa Melayu". In the end, I did not allow the book to be published by DBP.Uthaya Sankar SB talks to Bissme S in The Sun about non-malay authors writing in Bahasa Malaysia and his run-ins with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. He puts his finger very nicely on just what is wrong with the organisation :
DBP works at a snail’s pace. Once it does get a manuscript, it can take years to publish it. It’s also an open secret that it does not have a good marketing strategy. DBP should learn from Alaf 21 (a publication house owned by Kumpulan Karangkraf Sdn Bhd). Alaf 21 starts its marketing and publicity drive long before the books hit the market. Publishing books per se is not good enough anymore. You need to promote the books vigorously so readers will pick up the books. You need to make sure the books are available everywhere. But this is not happening in DBP because most of the time, the books are merely available in the Dawama (the marketing and distribution department of DBP) storerooms. Therefore, it is not surprising that (national laureate) Datuk A. Samad Said has taken back the rights to most of his books from DBP and wants to publish under his own publishing house, Wira Bukit Sdn Bhd. Haslina Usman has also done something similar with her father (national laureate) Datuk Usman Awang’s works by taking back all the copyright from DBP and publishing under UA Enterprises Sdn Bhd. DBP is given the task and responsibility to look after our national laureates but it appears it is not doing a good job. The fact that these national laureates do not want to be under DBP’s umbrella doesn’t paint a good picture of DBP. I submitted a letter to DBP recently to officially take back the rights to my books under it. I have no other choice. In 2007, I gave DBP a letter to reprint my books under their publication since there was a demand for my books. But it has not done anything to date. It’s a sad fact that DBP is not proactive. ... Every year, DBP is getting funding from the government to publish a certain number of good quality books. It does not have to generate profit since it relies on the government funding. It feels as long as it publishes books, it has done its job.and one hope the right people are reading and will take the comments to heart. Despite the criticisms, he describes his relationship with DBP like that of a father and son.
... Privatisation is not the answer. It is the mentality of the people involved that should change.
So far no non-Malays have made it as sasterawan negara (national laureate) and this proves discrimination exists.*and he cites the example of poet Dr Lim Swee Tin whom he says is really deserving of the honour ...
(*Apologies - I attributed these words wrongly to Utthaya when these were the words used by the interviewer, Bissme S.)