Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Melayu’s Guidelines for children’s book award

The following is a response to the article Creation of award for authors of children’s books published on 14 Nov in The Nut Graph.

In anticipation of the above, I’d like to propose a first draft of:

Guidelines for the Malaysian Excellence in Literature Award for Youth Unity (Melayu) Submissions

Submissions to Melayu must comply with the following:

SECTION 1: Bumiputera Ownership

In line with the spirit of the NEP, there must be a minimum 51% bumiputera ownership of the works, and involvement in the creation of the works at all stages, i.e.: conception of idea, authorship and typing.  If you are an individual, non-bumiputera writer, you MUST partner 2 (two) bumiputera individuals or companies, incorporate a writing body and register with Melayu.

In the creation process of the work, at least 51% of the woolgathering/writing/typing MUST be done by your bumiputera partners. At the end of the writing project, you must submit a report describing how many words were typed by each author.  At least 30% of the complex/big words need to be attributed to the bumiputera writers. e.g., somnambulist, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, etc.

In addition to that, at least 51% of the characters in the work MUST be bumiputera. Special consideration shall be given to stories with bumiputera protagonists.

Application Example:

MELAYU 2009 Application

Title of Book:
6th Form Girls College Adventures (Book IX): Laundry Day Surprise from Seremban Prison

Author No. Words
 Xue Ming Suan (non) 125,765
 Aminah bt Razak (bumi)   65,451
 Valve anak Piping (bumi)  65,450

 Total No Words Used:


Plot Summary

The Girls College outsources laundry to the nearby correctional facility. Mimi, a Lower 6 student from the Girls College, (chastely) falls in love with Bob, an escaped convict, who she finds hidden in a laundry basket. Mimi manages to put Bob on a path to salvation without coming into physical contact with or looking directly at him.

List of main characters:

Protagonist: Siti Nur Aminah Natasha bt Ahmad Abdullah Syahril (Mimi)

Love interest: Mohd Abdul Khairul Amarul Amir bin Datuk Naquib Hamzah Kamrul Mubarak Suleiman (Bob)

Supporting characters: Siti Salmah, Mazratul Aminiza, Cikgu Ameeenaaah Khaaaleeefaaa

Others: Muthu (gardener), Mei Wah (DVD pirate and local secret society leader’s daughter)

Longest word used: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Longest word credited to: Aminah bt Razak

SECTION 2: Religious and Cultural Considerations

Please be aware that Malaysia is a multiracial, multireligious state. Hence, the following guidelines are applicable for all works of fiction to ensure that no religious or racial segment is offended or sidelined.

2.a Official Religion

The official religion of all fictional stories shall be Islam. However, fictional characters that were not born Muslim are free to practice any fictional religion of their choice, as long as they respect the official religion, and their chosen fictional religion is deemed acceptable by the fictional authorities.

2.b Animal characters or companions

Many children’s stories may feature an animal as a protagonist or companion. Most western infidels’ stories depict unclean animals, e.g., Charlotte’s Web (swine), Five Find-Outers and Dog (dog). Melayu selection committee does not recognise these types of stories and finds them offensive.

Referring to any of the following unclean animals will immediately disqualify your entry.

Dogs: This covers all canine species, poodles, huskies, greyhounds, etc. This also covers animals with any sort of dog-like reference like prairie DOGS and seals (ANJING laut) — as they may cause confusion to the reader.

Pigs: As per canine reference guidelines, all porcine references are forbidden, swine, hogs, wild boars, HAMsters, and guinea PIGS, etc.

The following (clean) Malaysian animals are highly recommended protagonists/companions as they will serve to promote our fauna to a global audience:

1.Tapir (you can use this instead of a pig, they’re about the same size and shape)

2.Kancil (mouse deer)


4.Orang Utan

5.Crab (ketam bunga only, not ketam batu)

All the above animals must be depicted as happy and carefree. There must be no reference to any of them being endangered or under threat from logging or encroachment.

2.c Tomboys and Gender Issues (blanket guideline)

The depiction of short haired, tree climbing tomboy characters, like Georgina/George from colonial infidel author Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, girls who listen to Suzanne Vega, or boys who listen to Erasure or Bronski Beat are strictly prohibited.

Boys are to have short hair, dress in pants and shirts, and engage in boyish activities, like, climbing trees, catching spiders, and jumping off trains.

Girls are to have long hair (at least shoulder length), dress in conservative skirts/blouses and should engage in girlish activities, like fainting.

2.d Yoga

All fictional Muslim characters are forbidden to practice yoga — which has Hindu roots. They are also not allowed to contort themselves, in case this is interpreted as yoga. Please check on the status of this fatwa before submitting your entry. Fictional infidels are prohibited from commenting on this possible fatwa.

2.e Om

In addition to the above, please be aware that the vocalisations “um” and “oh” are not allowed in Muslim character dialog as it’s too close to the Hindu “Om”. 

Use “ahh” or “like” instead. 


“Oh, Mimi… I’m ….um, amphibious,” said Bob.

Should be expressed:

“Ahh, Mimi… I’m … like, amphibious,” said Bob.

2.f  Bersanding and Tepung Tawar

However, marriage ceremonies depicting bersanding and menepung tawar, which have Hindu roots, are permissible. Yes, it’s confusing, but if everything were black and white, we wouldn’t need to have HD colour TVs.

2.g  Blasphemy/Syirik

Despite the Harry Potter series being used as an example of a successful children’s book, the story and characters are considered blasphemous or syirik, featuring depictions of witches, wizards, unicorns and Gary Oldman in a role which was nowhere as cool as his lead role in Sid and Nancy.  

It should be noted that blasphemous or syirik works shall be rejected — with the exception of a few categories (please refer to Mastika, Utusan Melayu, Harian Metro for examples of “syirik-but-OK scenarios/characters”).  Again, if you find this confusing, think of HD colour TVs and why we need them.

Section 3: Sex

These are children’s books!!! All references to sex or any sexually provocative scenes are prohibited, unless they involve the Pussycat Dolls.

Section 4: Politics

Politicians are people too. Hence, it’s important to ensure that no politician is ever slighted or offended.

That concludes our first draft of the Melayu submission guidelines.

These guidelines may arbitrarily be changed from time to time.

Please check our website frequently for any changes/additions/modifications.

We look forward to your submission to Melayu.

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12 Responses to “Melayu’s Guidelines for children’s book award”

  1. Daniel says:

    We “liberals” sure like to laugh at how those wacky “conservatives” try to put up these racial and religious fences don’t we?

    I just hope we stop and remember how much Asians have had to give up in order to join this modern life promised by the West.

    Perhaps it is the traditional Asians who are having the best laugh at us now as the parasitic capitalistic economy that the West is built on crumbles. Still, its hard to imagine the whole world giving up their t-shirts for veils or turbans.

    In the end, I believe any conservative system will eventually fail (North Korea, Burma, Imperial China) but let’s spend less time laughing at them and find more ways towards the middle road shall we?

  2. Funny-Money says:

    Very funny lah this guide.

  3. Pee Lai says:

    Wonderfully written. Split my sides laughing. Wonder what the blokes sitting on the fatwa committee will think of this.

  4. 23 says:

    “I just hope we stop and remember how much Asians have had to give up in order to join this modern life promised by the West.”

    Let me see…..dysentry, cholera, grubs, freshly blowpiped monkey for dinner and a penis gourd….Western infidels! You took all this away from me! I want it back!

  5. pang says:

    Not forgetting “modern life promised by the West” that were founded upon Asian values: firearms, examinations and paper currency.

  6. victor tan says:

    This guide is so racially malicious. Please don’t put this on your outstanding website. Jatuh standard only.

  7. Chin Huat says:

    Satire is both healthy and necessary to democracy. Let’s hope that no one would suggest a fatwa to ban this form of expression or mount a witch hunt campaign.

  8. pohbc says:

    Great article!
    Enjoyed it immensely.
    Is this satire or parody?

  9. pete says:

    In stitches. Compile these into a book and sell it. Make mega bucks. Like that woman who wrote Harry Potter, what’s her name?

  10. Daniel says:

    Pang, you just brought out good examples of how the conservatism of Imperial China ruined their chances of pushing ahead and forming nuclear armaments, elite universities, and “free” trade. But if you are implying that Asians don’t have to give up anything as we “Go West”, then this exchange should be in some Asian language instead, shouldn’t it?

    While we laugh at the scripture-reading frogs who eat “blow-darted monkeys” in their tempurungs, lets try and laugh more at ourselves as we eat our factory farmed fried chicken and stare into the screen that flickers with a barrage of lame, liberal “anyone can be a star” programs.

  11. Subashini says:

    I made the mistake of reading this in the morning at work, while sipping on some coffee… I had to mop up the keyboard when I got to “Mohd Abdul Khairul Amarul Amir bin Datuk Naquib Hamzah Kamrul Mubarak Suleiman (Bob).”

  12. Ying says:

    Daniel, chill out. Nine out of 10 doctors approve of satire. It’s healthy.
    It’s OK. You, too, can laugh at us “liberals” or “conservatives”. (Here’s self-deprecation for you: I’m quite blonde… er [prejudiced ... I take it back] dull. Based on your argument, I’m not sure who I should lambast.)
    This amalgamation of the East and West. The erosion of Eastern values. The fall of the West’s self-serving capitalist system. All these terrible things, I assure you, will continue its sure and certain process regardless of whether this brilliant piece of satire is published.
    No time is wasted. I assure you. Good luck finding the middle ground! Jia-You, as the Chinese would say!


    P.S. Victor Tan. Read between the lines-lah, brother. I have problems with that too. Like, I have trouble understand what my mother means when she recites that Chinese proverb “In books, there are golden houses and beautiful girls.” What golden house, ma?! Where got!?

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