According to reports, the National Library Board (NLB) has decided to move the Chinese-language children’s book “Who Wins?” from its Children section to its Family and Parenting section in its libraries.
The NLB said in a statement that the decision came after its review in consultation with the Library Consultative Panel (LCP). This move is apparently taken after the consideration of public feedback.
For those unaware, this book has been the subject of much controversy, seemingly perpetuating misguided, ignorant and racist ideas. Written by Wu Xing Hua, “Who Wins” depicts a “dark-skinned” boy with “oily curly hair” named Mao Mao – which means “hairy” in Chinese – who is characterised as an aggressive school bully.
A Facebook user, Umm Yusof, had complained about the woefully ignorant book, rightfully pointing out the unnecessary portrayal of the dark-skinned boy as “irredeemably nasty”, although his appearance was completely irrelevant to the plot. Dr Wong Chee Meng, a visiting researcher for the Centre for Chinese Language & Culture at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also took to his Facebook in July to comment on the racial stereotyping depicted in the book.
After several complaints, the publisher, Marshall Cavendish Education (MCE) apologised to its readers.
At that time, this publication had called for greater censure against a book such as this. Not only does it promote racist ideas in multi racial Singapore, this racist book series had also been included in a long list of supplementary reading material since 2018, as found on the website of the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, formed under auspices of the Ministry of Education (MOE).
This begs the question : Should there even be shelf space for a book like this?
A book like this should be banned outright. Moving it from one section to another is a complete cop out on the part of the NLB.
Racism is racism whether or not it is in the children’s section or the adult section. Moving the book to another section in no way stems out the ignorant content that is in the books. It does not take a stand against the book’s reprehensible content!
Is the NLB suggesting that racism is acceptable in adults but not in children? Where is the logic in that?
In merely moving the book from one section to another, the NLB is not taking a stand against racism – something that a publicly funded institution such as the NLB should do.
The NLB needs to take stronger action that simply moving the book. It needs to refuse it any shelf space at all!