Wednesday, March 03, 2010

No Need to Worry After All About Malaysian Reading Habits

*Phew* Just a few days after Utusan Malaysia was making dire pronouncements about the state of reading in Malaysia, and Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim talking about a new study being needed, someone seems to have russled up with some cheering facts very quickly. More Malaysians it seems, ARE reading :
...  the ministry recorded a whopping 38 million visitors to libraries nationwide, including those in public and private universities, exceeding the 28 million Malaysian population.
(Quite how it is possible to have more library visitors than there are people in the population is pretty interesting, don't you think?  Maybe it can be accounted for by enthusiastic readers joining as many libraries as is physically possible.)  Said Rais at the launch of the Mari Membaca 1Malaysia :
Reading has become an enveloping habit for Malaysians with most reading an average of eight to 12 books per year.
Which if true, is actually a huge improvement on previous reading statistics.  (Though again, how are these figures arrived at?).

Rais further declared that reading online is good but :
 ... we don't want our younger generation to be slaves to the computer monitor. Every three hours of computer usage should be balanced out with an hour of reading books.
And the search for Malaysian personalities to endorse books is on, with possible "icons" being mooted including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Angkasawan Negara Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Sheikh Shukor; and actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh to play the Oprah role.

Postscript :

Yes, it's official :  film star Datuk Michelle Yeoh has been appointed ambassador for the Information, Communication, and Culture Ministry’s Come and Read 1Malaysia campaign. 

She will return to launch the campaign April 23rd (to nicely coincide with World Book Day) and books in Malay, English and mandarin will be handed out to more than 1,000 schools nationwide.

It will be interesting to see what kinds of books she reads. I had a google around but the only mention of her in connection with books was she apparently likes The Monk Who sold His Ferrari author, Robin Sharma.

 Also appointed - Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor who feels strongly about the subject.

Apparently now the search is on for  "a popular Indian ambassador".


Aiman "Dafrosty" Mohd Misri said...

my peers in UIAM organized a BACA@LRT event,which is self explanatory.they gathered at gombak terminal and everyone read books they brought along till a designated station where book sales were set up.didnt get to join myself,but i dont think we really need to worry much about malaysians reading :)

bibliobibuli said...

love the sound of that! let me know next time for the blog and i will beg some photos.

some of those in the booktrade i've seem to feel things are getting a bit better but i think these figures are very optimistic.

Floral said...

More likely 38m visits and not 38m visitors. It would be almost impossible to keep track otherwise...

Fadz said...

LoL, Floral. You got them by the balls right there! Methinks they added five too many zeros, at least.

Why aren't they laying down the facts and figures?

Jovenus said...

It is definitely visits, not count of visitors.

The next step for Malaysia would be to start a TV book club, so that each week, a book get featured on TV. In the UK, the TV Book club is running in full force now, and the readers and viewers will get to vote who is the best read / winner for the year. :)

bibliobibuli said...

we've got a radio book club on BFM with umapagan who would be just as good if on tv.

Lee Ee Leen said...

which proves that their facts are merely statistics, and other statistics are facts.
Anyone can manipulate numbers and come up with some dire report to serve their purposes.(When I say "anyone", I'm *not* pointing a finger at a local paper beginning with a 'U' and ending with a '..tusan ;P)

Shy said...

I am always curious as to what kind of "books" that they consider valid to be measured for those statistics? Does anything fiction count as well?

Some people are being skeptical when they know that I read a lot of fictions and memoirs cause to them, reading these don't count as reading at all. I wonder what you think about this?

glenda larke said...

So a uni student entering a university library is evidence of Malaysians 'reading'. That's a fabulous statistic, that one.

If you know a uni student who doesn't enter a library multiple times during any year of study, tell me.

Very, very few of them will be reading a book in the sense of starting at page 1 and continuing to the end.

glenda larke said...

To me, there is only one surefire way of creating a reader (other ways are less successful) - a parent reads to their child from a very young age, preferably every day of their life up to and past the time when they can read for themselves.

The failure rate is low.

composer said...

Lies, damned lies and statistics ...


Oxymoron said...

Someone should ask the good Dr to name his favourite books. :)

bibliobibuli said...

shy - of course that counts as reading! anyone doesn't beieve you - send them my way!

Oxy - here's a pic of his bookshelves

glenda- absolutely right

someone on twitter pointed out that maybe the article should have read 38 mi VISITS, not visitors. that would make sense.