I would have at least expected one of our many Malaysian writers to have made the reading campaign’s “ambassador” list. Whether of local or international fame, we have quite a few to choose from: Tash Aw, Karim Raslan, Rani Manicka and Beth Yap spring to mind. ... Most writers read, right? Especially if it is an internationally acclaimed writer, short-listed for a literary award, etc.... So a writer would have been a great choice, or someone who is clearly committed to promoting reading, like StarMag’s Tots to Teens columnist Daphne Lee or someone who has demonstrably done something to show their interest in reading.I'm not too worried about these two being chosen to promote books (provided that they are indeed avid readers and I haven't seen much evidence of that yet) as clearly they will have wide appeal and are both good communicators. But I do share this concern:
It was indeed galling to read that Yeoh had been chosen to promote reading among Malaysians, especially the Chinese. And no need to guess who our hot astronaut will be appealing to. ... In this era of 1Malaysia-ism, why are we still choosing ambassadors by race to target a specific demographic? I know we are a nation of contradictions, caught in a cultural crossfire, but this doesn’t make sense. The messages are mixed, but it seems that Malaysians can’t be mixed....Absolutely!
And talking about newspaper articles, if you bought this weekend's issue of The Edge, you would have seen some pretty pictures of yours truly ("writer and educator") in conversation with ("young journalist") Zedeck Siew and Edge journalist Elaine Lau about the culture of reading (or lack of) in Malaysia. If it is up online later, I will link to it.