Current Affairs, National

PN government should nurture a nation of readers and save our publishing industry

Press Statement
23rd April 2021

World Book and Copyright Day 2021: Government Should Provide Book Tokens to Help Transform Book & Publishing Industry 

April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. The distinguished Spanish writer Cervantes and the prominent British writer Shakespeare died on this day in 1616. Besides, it is also the date of birth or death of many prominent writers around the world.

Therefore, UNESCO decided to set this day as “World Book and Copyright Day” to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors in order to encourage more people to read and write, making them indispensable habits in our daily life.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread in 2020, the Malaysian government was forced to implement a Movement Control Order (MCO) to combat the pandemic. 

Such measures interrupted the normal operation of various industries in our country, including the publishing industry that was severely affected.

Under the MCO, physical bookstores and vendors were closed while schools were not allowed to open for a long time. Furthermore, various new book launches, promotional activities, and book fairs were suspended. 

Therefore, as the sales of book vendors and publishers plummeted due to the volatility of the logistics industry, the entire industry was faced with a huge crisis. 

In view of this, I would like to call upon the government to respond to the calls of World Book and Copyright Day by launching “Book Tokens for All” to encourage all Malaysians to purchase books, e-books, educational books, or subscribe to newspapers and magazines.

Credit: The Straits Times

“Book Tokens for All” does not only help create a nation of readers but also provides assistance to publishers to survive and get through the pandemic. Moreover, such an initiative can also effectively stimulate domestic consumption through the multiplier effect, which will in turn promote economic growth through spending.

The pandemic has changed human consumption patterns and living habits. Facing the dual crises of the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn, I hope that book vendors and publishers can remain optimistic by proactively grasping the opportunities brought forward by the rapid development of new media and digital transformation in order to realign strategies to further develop the publishing industry.

The pandemic has brought about changes to many social norms. However, one of the norms that remain and has become more prominent than ever is the need to encourage reading and to respect knowledge in order to create real progress for mankind.

The spiritual character of a nation depends to a large extent on the reading level of its people. In order to create a progressive society, the government should consider providing “Book Tokens for All” to create a nation of readers.

Chiong Yoke Kong
ADUN for Tanah Rata

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