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Court allows use of “keling” in dictionary

KUALA LUMPUR, 14 May 2009: The High Court here today ruled that the use of the word “keling” is allowed in the Kamus Dewan Third Edition as the word in the dictionary is for learning purposes.

Justice Lau Bee Lan who made the decision in chambers then dismissed the Selangor and Federal Territory Angkatan Pelapor India Muslim’s (Apim) appeal against the decision of High Court senior assistant registrar Nik Isfanie Tasmin Wan Abdul Rahman.

On 29 Dec 2006, Nik Isfahanie Tasnim allowed Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka’s (DBP) application to strike out an originating summons over the word “keling” filed by Apim.

DBP’s counsel, Md Radzi Mustafa, told reporters that Lau held that the use of word “keling” in the dictionary was not mala fide for any party and that DBP was only carrying out its statutory duty in including the word in its dictionary.

When asked whether the word “keling” is still being used in the fourth edition in the dictionary, he said it was still used but no examples were given.  

On 22 Dec 2005, Apim chairperson Ramli @ Mohd Othman Ravinthranath Abdullah filed an originating summons against DBP claiming that the word, “keling”, in its Kamus Dewan dictionary was an insult to the Indian community in Malaysia.

Among others, he wanted the word deleted from the dictionary.

DBP then applied to strike out the suit on the grounds that the word “keling” in the Kamus Dewan Third Edition was not meant to give the bad connotation of causing chaos, disturbing the peace, inciting hatred, animosity, riot, disharmony or disunity, as claimed by Apim.

In its affidavit in support, DBP Deputy Director-General Abu Bakar Mohamad claimed that Apim had no locus standi to bring the suit on behalf of the Indian Muslim community.

Counsel Priyadarshni Nair represented Apim. — Bernama

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