Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Read Great Lit to Save your Souls

Malaysian youths must be exposed to more local literature that highlight noble values like respect and responsibility ... Reading high-quality literature needs to be encouraged because it is the best way to inculcate the culture of knowledge and instill positive values in our youths.
said Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (who is also the deputy PM) at the presentation of the Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia (Malaysia Premier Literary Award), The Star reports today. (There's a much fuller account of what he actually said on the Bernama website which actually reads much better.)

It is great to see such support of literature, but I'd remind the minister that we read for pleasure, the rest follows : along the way, it might actually make us better people, but it "being good for us" is never the reason why we pick up a book.  

But I do agree with him that it would be great to see local literature make the transition to other media, but please make translation into English a priority!!

And it's good that there is a RM200mil Creative Industry Fund, but it would be nice to see some of the money spent on what writers actually need in this country - courses, workshops, resources,  grants and bursaries. 

And not just for Malay language writers - those writing in English are doing so much to put the country on the map internationally, and there are Chinese and Tamil writers to consider too.

But anyhow you can't just throw money at something and expect it to happen.  Those that are making a mark internationally are, in every case,  those who have had the gumption to do something for themselves and the willingness to make big sacrifices.

It is indeed sad that the Award has now dropped its English language category, and I feel *big sigh* there is something symbolic in that too. it also strikes me as really odd that the awards were for books published several years ago - this gives the impression of some not-being-on-the-ballness which might give the prize an image problem.

Anyway, all this minister speak has overshadowed the actual results so here are the prize winners :
Among the works that received the award were a children’s novel, Azrul Wira Anak Laut (by Hassan Omar), a novel for adolescents Me­­nikam Kalbu (Faisal Tehrani), an anthology of poems entitled Salju Shibuya (Muhammad Salleh) and anthology of short stories entitled Mekar Sakura di Mimbar Cinta (Ilham Hamdani) .... Arena Wati was given the HSPM 2004-2005 posthumously for his book Armageddon Jilid 1: Mandala.
Biggest congrats on your success!


Preets said...

That right there immediately marks the good minister as someone who knows nothing about literature and has never read a good book in his life:

"Malaysian youths must be exposed to more local literature that highlight [sic] noble values like respect and responsibility."

Literature doesn't "highlight" anything, let alone "noble values." Gah.

Cynically yours,

poppadumdum said...

Maybe he's still suffering from the sunstroke when he rode around on a bike without a helmet...


Preets said...

I'm ALL FOR Muhyiddin riding a bike without a helmet :-) . May he do it regularly and not just on hot days but day and night, rain or shine.

Chen said...

Have any of you read those books? like Manikam Kalbu? I noticed that Faisal Tehrani's The prau with the silent soul is translated into English, but I haven't found much info about it online.