The National Bahasa Dictionary, Dewan Bahasa had some interesting choices of words when it comes to defining things.
A few days ago, MIC Youth member, Thiagaseelan Ganesan had took it to Facebook that Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP) had misled the readers for their definition of the word, “Thambi”, which means younger brother in Tamil.
DBP was called out for defining the word “Thambi” as “a term used for Kelings who are younger than us, or office workers (servers) or peons.”
For those who are unaware, “Keling” is a racial slur used against Indians and used as a derogatory term against certain parts of the community. After this went viral, many had expressed their anger and disappointment towards DBP and some even asked to file a case in court to remove and banned the usage of the word “Keling” in any forms of communication.
Since then, DBP had released a statement saying that “All facts about the words that were once used in the community of Malay speakers will be recorded in the dictionaries. This also applies to the case of the word “Keling” that existed in the Kamus Dewan since its first edition published in 1970.”
DBP added that all words does not bring a negative meaning and it is the society that made those words a taboo. DBP did not apologise for the inclusion of the deprecating word in their archives nor reveal the party responsible for such a mistake.
A Racial Bias Definition
While you can say we should not take the word “Keling” seriously, what about the definition for “Sepet”?
A brief search on the DBP’s website revealed that the definition of the word, “Sepet” is squinted small eyes, just like those from the Chinese.
Needless to say, this is misleading and it is just pure discrimination towards a certain race. While the word, “Sepet” isn’t categorised as a slur, it is inaccurate to generalise of the physical characteristics Chinese people possess.
Any thoughts? Comment below!