KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today challenged scholars in the country to produce a book every year.
Zahid said studies showed that Malaysia had not achieved the target of producing at least 27,000 books per year.
"According to UNESCO standards, the publication of books should stand at 1 per cent for every million people, or 1,000 books published. However, in Malaysia - only 15,000 books were published from a population of 27 million.
“Scholars should produce books that are not only based on intellectual and empirical studies but they should also be tailored according to buyers' wants and market needs. However, studies show that not all of the scholars have this ability.
“I would like to challenge every scholar to strive to produce at least a book per year. We need to have writers of international accolade and Nobel Prize winners who conduct studies, film productions and also research that will be accepted internationally,” he said.
He was speaking at the launch of the 2015 National Book Award.
Tan Sri Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas was awarded the National Book Icon 2015 award whereas Professor Emeritus Tan sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim was named the History Icon.
At the same event, Zahid also launched a book on the historical figure Hang Tuah, entitled, ‘Catatan Okinawa’ which provide evidence on the existence of the Malay warrior.
The book’s author, Prof Emeritus Dr Hashim Musa said he and his co-writer Dr Rohaidah Kamaruddin took about a year to study thoroughly the primary data, which was not only gathered in Malaysia but also from abroad.
"In order for us to prove his existence, we need to have primary data. We managed to get this from several foreign countries, which included the Okinawa prefecture of Japan.
"We found at least three letters written by Hang Tuah on behalf of the Sultan of Malacca to Okinawa which at that time was known as Ryukyu from 1480 to 1481," he said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian book publishers must raise their output to match the average publication to population ratio in developed countries.
This was needed to spur the reading habit and develop the publishing industry, in line with Malaysia’s aim to become a high-income economy in 2020, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).
The country’s publishers produce fewer than 20,000 titles per year – below the average of 1,000 titles per million population in developed countries, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
With Malaysia’s population currently at 31.1 million according to the Department of Statistics, this would mean local publishers should publish at least 31,100 titles annually to match the ratio in developed countries.
“I will discuss with the Prime Minister to look into the possibility of allocating RM2mil for the National Book Award next year, but on condition that our publishers can raise the number of new titles to match the 1% average in developed countries,” he said in his speech at the National Book Award ceremony at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.
The publishers, he said, must aim high so that by the year 2057, when the 100th anniversary of Merdeka is celebrated, Malaysia would have many internationally recognised authors and film producers and even Nobel Prize winners.
The Home Minister said the low output of Malaysian publishers should not be blamed on soft market demand alone.
Other factors which must be considered are whether books are affordable and the quality of the works being produced.
Dr Ahmad Zahid in his speech thanked Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka for its offer to publish his PhD research, which is on media coverage on five successive Malaysian general elections.
He said some of his findings, however, might have been overtaken by the rapid change brought by new technologies that had emerged in recent years.
These include e-books and social media, whose impact publishers must be able to adapt to in order to stay relevant.
The Deputy Prime Minister later presented the awards to the recipients of the National Book Award.
Among the winners this year are Tan Sri Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, who won the Tokoh Buku Negara Award, and Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, who won the Tokoh Sejarawan award.
Also taking place at the PWTC are the Malaysian Book Expo and a National Book Conference. Both events end on Sunday.