Thursday, April 2, 2009
Malaysian Literature in English (MLIE) is not really a strange thing for me, as I used to be exposed to MLIE during my secondary school years but that exposure was not a deep one. MLIE was inserted as a subtopic in English subject under the literature section in form 1 and form 4 students as one of English Language syllabus. I had learnt some literature works by Shirley Lim, Muhammad Haji Salleh and Che Husna Azhari. However, the lessons was only focusing on the surface of the works as we the students must knew the story pretty well to answer some questions that will be set on the PMR and SPM exams.
When I was in my foundation year and during first semester of my first year degree, I had also learnt some MLIE works and in fact in the first year degree I had to do an assignment based on Shirley Lim’s poem entitle Monsoon History. For me, that was the first I had to go through one of the MLIE works in a very detail manner. It was really open my eyes to see the back side of MLIE works. The quality of the MLIE works actually at par of the international level.
In my opinion, certain things MLIE works mostly based on the Malaysian culture and value. These works also are not exposed internationally because it is difficult to understand by foreign country. Besides, the works are rarely published and hard to find in the market. Most of the works are also being done in bilingual version, using a very simple storyline and understandable. Last but not least, the reviews and references of these literature works are very hard to find whether in the form of reference book or internet article.
As I learnt from Quayyum’s article an Overview of Malaysian Writer in English; nonetheless I knew that MLIE is something that is hard to be accepted by Malaysian. Not that it is being rejected at all but only certain people who really appreciate the work because to most Malaysian the mother language is the most suitable language to be use in producing the literary work and not English. Furthermore, most of Malaysian simply loves to read stuff in Bahasa Malaysia compared to English. The situation worsen when the National language Act 1967 and the Amendment Act 1971 were reinforced where to write in English was discouraged compared to write in the Malay language.
I learn about MLIE deeply by reading MLIE stuff, books and the background of the authors. Although it is not easy to search about MLIE works in the websites, but there are still a few works being publish there. Besides, the discussion and presentation that we held in class also build better understanding in MLIE. If I have any doubt about MLIE, there is always a kind hearted lecturer there to explain and make it crystal clear for me.
In spite of many challenges and difficulties faced by writers in the English language in Malaysia, they are still surviving until now. Maybe someday I would turn up to be one of them in the scene. I learnt that is not easy to be MLIE writers but the challenging part is actually the gold of life.
Posted by Suraya Nordin at 8:14 PM