‘Keling’ stays in the kamus

(The Star) – The word “keling” will remain in the Kamus Dewan after the High Court dismissed an Indian Muslim association’s appeal to remove the definition and use of the word in the Malay dictionary.

High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan ruled in chambers that Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which provides for the right of citizens to non-discrimination, only applied to individuals and not an association.

She added that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) was only carrying out a statutory duty by inserting the word in the third edition of the Kamus Dewan.

On Dec 29, 2006, senior assistant registrar Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Wan Abdul Rahman struck out the suit filed by the Selangor and Federal Territory Angkatan Pelapor India Muslim (Apim) against the DBP and its director-general.

Apim, which sought a declaration that DBP had failed in its statutory duty and responsibility when it allowed the use of the word “keling” — a derogatory reference to Malaysian Indians — and its variant meanings and metaphor in the dictionary, filed an appeal.

It also wanted the word dropped from the third edition of the Kamus Dewan and from the names of villages, buildings, resort and roads.

It claimed that the word was shameful, insulting and degrading to the Indian Muslim community.