Friday, July 17, 2009

Outrage and Ouchy Grammar

It's been a day when our minds have been on much more serious things - tragic death (possible murder?) of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, and bombings in Jakarta.

Nevertheless, I had a little outrage left for this reader's letter in The Malay Mail today, asking why Salman Rushdie's books are sold in MPH when :
... they are banned in most Muslim countries.
(Unspecified, of course!!)

The unnamed MPH spokesman gives a very conciliatory answer and passes the buck to distributor Pansing.

If this bloke had wandered into my bookstore, I'd have told him to check in his bigotry and ignorance at the customer service counter. If I were a newspaper editor, I wouldn't have wasted column inches on him.

The fact is Rushdie's books are not banned in Malaysia with the exception of The Satanic Verses (although everyone who wants to read it can easily lay their hands on a copy). There is no earthly reason for them to be.

And the rest of us should stand up firmly against the very suggestion that books should disappear from the shelves.

I'm an extremist? You betcha. But I only read books. I don't plant bombs or throw young men out of windows. (Outrage is better saved for those people.)

As for whether Rushdie's books apart from The Satanic Verses are banned in other countries - I suspect not but I need to dig around to find the actual evidence. And certainly there is a move towards greater tolerance and away from book banning in the UAE [via].

While we're getting angry with things in The Malay Mail, let me ask you (since I feel like playing teacher today) if you can spot the grammar error in this sentence :
A leading light of the abolish English for science and maths campaign has a new book.
The article goes on to talk about how the Higher Education Ministry and the Malaysian National Institute of Translation (MNIT) will hold a road show nationwide to promote A. Samad Said's book, Bisik Warna. The Deputy Higher Education Minister calls it :
...a work of arts (sic) and words from the national laureate on life, organisations, leaders and philosophy ...
The (sic) proving that the journalist who wrote the column can spot someone else's ouchy grammar error, even if they can't see their own.

Congrats to Pak Samad anyway, and it is good to see a book getting so much official support.


JL said...

Ah, MALAYsia rears its ugly head once more.

GeneGirl said...

tsk tsk tsk....
Sharon, my word verification is a German word!

Fadz said...

"A leading light of the abolish English for science and maths campaign has a new book."

That sentence didn't make sense at all. Serious.

- to abolish
- in abolishing
- of the discontinuation of (this one is too wordy)

The rest of the sentence is French to me.

Should we blame the writer or the editor?

Sharon, you should have seen what I saw on the last night of matriculation. My peers made a large bonfire...of books and notes! I couldn't breathe, my heart felt ripped apart, and I had nightmares for two nights. And those weren't even my books!

Laws to ban certain books are set to stop insinuations, deviations from the accepted norm. True, those kind of books should be read at readers' discretion, but not everyone has the sensibility to read and evaluate right from wrong.

But sometimes banning is done to protect certain people's interest, and this is lame.

Come to think of it, some underground heavy metal music should be banned. I've read some of the lyrics. Dark. Devil-worshiping dark.

Chet said...

There are missing quotation marks in the sentence. It should read:

A leading light of the "abolish English for science and maths" campaign has a new book.

Fadz said...

Makes more sense, with the quotation marks, in a way.

Still. I don't get the sentence.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the bombings in Jakarta were done by either Christians, Buddhists, Hindus or Zoroastrians. I'm sure of it.

Worm said...

I don't agree with what Anonymous is implying above. Not helpful at all.

But what is truly evil is the constant repetition in the mass media that it's a MUSLIM Uigur against Han Chinese thing in Xinjiang. Why are they putting subliminal messages out?

Anonymous said...

Satanic Verses is one of the greatest books ever written. And Malay Mail is the crappiest paper ever printed.

- Poppadumdum

Amir Muhammad said...

This doesn't sound conciliatory but downright cowardly:

"While waiting for our distributor to reply, we have taken the initiative to remove the said books from the shelves."


Anonymous said...

Let's all boycott buying Malay Mail. I've already gone out to buy a few more copies of Rushdie's novels...

bibliobibuli said...

i love the Malay Mail, it has Amir's column in it. and good sudoku. (i can sometimes do the easy ones)

Chet - you are right about the punctuation.

Anonymous said...

Amir can easily get a column in a classier paper... :-) Boikot, boikot! :-)

Jovial said...

JL, are you implying something?

And the case of Teoh Beng Hock is kinda surreal like a plot from a movie or something, and the death is so sudden, like someone is getting rid of the snitch and trying to seal the secret, maybe?

Buddhaphish said...

I'm disappointed with MPH. One complaint from a customer, and it pulls books from its shelves??

Good grief.

bookseller said...

That letter-writer to Malay Mail should not be stepping into any bookstore, at all.
A bookstore is a wonderfully dangerous labyrinth, with no standing space nor breathing room for the narrow-minded.

Anonymous said...

MPH's management can be chicken shit scared lah, when it comes to these things. Look at the number of political arse-kissing books they've been publishing! And the latest cover of Quill with some overmade-up tai tai on the cover..! Ugh!!!