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Authors, artists should be given space to express views through work, says PM

Authors, artists should be given space to express views through work, says PM

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Authors and artists should be given space to express views through their work, said Malaysian prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. 

The prime minister added that critical thinking is vital in nation building. As such, authors and artists should not be restricted from expressing their views on topics such as politics, culture, society and history. 

"The works of authors and artists can't be measured in a confined manner. If there's no space given, whether it's political, cultural, social or historical commentary, their capabilities to express their thoughts would feel curbed," said Anwar. 

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Anwar made these comments during his speech at the launch of the 'National seminar on Malay language book publishing'. 

"We are a free country, not a colonised country, so we must provide some space for artists to work freely," added Anwar. 

The prime minister also said that he had told education minister Fadhlina Sidek and the higher education minister that students in schools and universities have to learn and be trained to have critical thinking. 

"The field of books, history and literature turns out to be complex and not able to be processed and worked on in just a few minutes. I suggest that we try to broaden reading and try to work as much as possible so that society is more educated with books than other mediums," added the prime minister in a statement on X. 

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in local Malaysian literature. The Unesco Institute of Statistics reportedly said that Malaysia boasts a literacy rate of 94.64%. Meanwhile, based on GlobalData, Malaysia’s literacy rate stood at 95.71% in 2021.

It is said between 2010 and 2021, the literacy rate of Malaysia decreased by 2.74%. On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the literacy rate decreased by 0.4% in 2021.

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