“Tuhan” fiasco: DBP director-general should quit now, DAP leader says

AS the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP) remains firm on its decision to make distinction between the word “Tuhan” and “tuhan”, a Penang leader has called for its director-general’s resignation.

Prof P Ramasamy

“I have said this before and I will say it again. DBP’s director-general should hang his boots as he is not fit to be in charge of a premier agency tasked to promote our national language.

“The ministry in charge of DBP should also step in and clean up this mess,” Penang deputy chief minister Prof P Ramasamy told FocusM.

Last month, Kavyan Writers’ Group told FocusM that DBP had made a distinction on the use of the word “Tuhan” among Muslims and non-Muslims.

The group’s founder Uthaya Sankar SB said that DBP has reserved the word “Tuhan” for Muslims, while “tuhan” is used for non-Muslims.

He cited that while there was only a single entry for ‘Tuhan” in Kamus Pelajar (1988), Kamus Dewan (2005) and Kamus Dewan Perdana (2020) made the distinction.

It says: “Tuhan” seem to refer exclusively to Allah, whereas “tuhan” refers to “something worshipped by people whose religion or belief is not based on the One God” (“sesuatu yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Esa”).

DBP later defended its decision saying that even English dictionaries such as Oxford Dictionary of English, Collins English Dictionary and Wikipedia make the same distinction between “God” and “god”.

“So, ‘Tuhan’ is recorded in our dictionary to refer to Allah, which is correct based on the usage while the word ‘tuhan’ is a general term used to refer to deities, who have their own specific names,” its director general Datuk Abang Salehuddin Abg Shokeran was reported saying.

DBP is busy politicking

To date, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vice president Datuk Seri RS Mogan Shan and the Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) has spoken out on the matter.

Ramasamy said that it was mind-boggling that Salehuddin could justify such a nonsensical decision, accusing the latter of playing petty politics over focusing on promoting and expanding the use of Bahasa Melayu.

Citing Indonesia as an example, the Perai lawmaker said the neighbouring nation comes up with original works in Bahasa Indonesia consistently, instead of just doing translations.

“But here, our DBP is monolithic and looks more interested in promoting racism and myopic views. I hope the people have not forgotten on Salehuddin’s refusal to apologise over the ‘keling’ issue.

“And what is he trying to prove? That their God is superior to other people’s belief? Everyone knows that there is only one Creator,” he retorted.

In March, DBP has used a derogatory word “keling” to explain the meaning of a Tamil word, “tambi”.

According to the online version of Kamus Dewan, provided by the DBP, it defined “tambi” as “panggilan utk orang Keling yg lebih muda drpd kita”.

While “tambi” means “younger brother”, the word “keling” has been used for decades as a derogatory word to describe the Indian community.

Following the outcry, Salehuddin made removed the word “keling” but refused to apologise for the matter, triggering Ramasamy calling for his dismissal. – May 3, 2021.

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