Why start a dangerous and divisive religious polemic? NGO asks DBP

WITH the “Tuhan” controversy raging on, an Indian-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) alleged the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) of attempting to disrupt national unity by flaring up religious sensitivity.

“This goes against national identity and our Rukunegara, where its first tenet says ‘Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan’ (Belief in God).

“So, when we recite the Rukunegara, how are we to make distinction between ‘Tuhan” and ‘tuhan’? Pertubuhan Transformasi Kaum India Malaysia president R Ravichandar asked, when contacted by FocusM.

R Ravichandar

On April 17, 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”.

Ravichandar, together with 17 other NGOs, have submitted a memorandum to DBP last week, calling for the agency to reverse its decision.

Let’s have a dialogue

Touching on the matter, Ravinchar said that DBPs’ decision may deter non-Muslims from writing or even reading books in Malay.

“Some have argued that it was just a small matter but I disagree. This will become a huge problem in the future if not addressed now,” he said.

On that note, Ravinchandar said he has given director general Datuk Abang Salehuddin Abg Shokeran 14 days to reply to the memorandum, adding he was open to dialogue on the matter.

“Let’s call language experts to offer their views on the matter. I have written books in Malay too so I know how to defend our argument,” he stated.

On related matter, Salehuddin told FocusM that DBP would issue a statement on the matter as soon as possible.

“I hope the media will publish our statement in full to avoid any confusion,” he said, via a message. – May 13, 2021.

To view the memo, please click here: Memo by NGO to DBP

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