DBP Is Changing The Definition Of ‘Tambi’ To Remove Racist Slur
You might’ve noticed a recent controversy on social media surrounding Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP) and its definition of the word “tambi”, more specifically its usage of the racist slur “k*ling” to refer to the Indian community.
This came after Indian community activist S Shankar Ganesh called out DBP for the problematic definition. And after receiving much backlash from netizens, DBP has cleared the air, only to make things worse with another controversial statement.
In a lengthy statement released, DBP tried to justify its usage of the slur by saying that the dictionary allows the use of such words to express certain concepts in various fields of knowledge and social settings.
DBP has confirmed it will update its Kamus Dewan Pelajar's definition of the word "Tambi" in the next edition, following the use of a derogatory term. Executive director Abang Sallehuddin told Malaysiakini, the online version of its dictionary will also be updated. https://t.co/VeLS0WPl9k pic.twitter.com/OYX9hql8bM — BFM News (@NewsBFM) March 22, 2021
The statement even highlights how the Kuala Lumpur High Court previously ruled that the use of the “K” word was allowed in the dictionary as it was not malicious to any parties.
But to put an end to the controversy, DBP Director-General Abang Sallehuddin Abg Shokeran told Malaysiakini that the department will replace the problematic term with the word “Indian”.
Despite the attempt at damage control, many social media users still took to Twitter to express their anger over DBP’s use of such a derogatory word to describe an ethnic group.
cw // slurs am back to say to dewan bahasa please change your mistake from having the meaning of tambi (spelt incorrect btw) changed. keling does not desc Indians its a fucking slur and i would hope as Malaysia's dictionary you would actually know better pic.twitter.com/jQ7FIFbxrT — panoni 🍙 🐝📌 IS BACK FROM T HE DEAD LMAOOO (@moontogauva) March 21, 2021
1.’Tambi’ is not a Malay word, then y DBP is providing a definition? 2.What’s the justification 4 the given definition? What’s the urge 2 use the word ‘keling’ but not ‘org India’? 3. it is suppose 2 be, ‘panggilan untuk adik lelaki dlm kalangan masy.India’ right? @DBPMalaysia pic.twitter.com/pGOchD2qB8 — Thiagaseelan Ganesan (@Thiagaseelan) March 21, 2021
And the truth is, no matter how you try to justify it, there really isn’t a reason for anyone to normalise the usage of this word, especially when it’s widely known how disrespectful and hurtful the word can be for members in the Indian community.
And coming from the government body that’s responsible for coordinating the use of the Malay language in Malaysia? It really shouldn’t have taken this long for them to replace this word and in fact, the word shouldn’t even be used in the first place.