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NLB moves children's book to adults' section after review over racism complaints

NLB moves children's book to adults' section after review over racism complaints

Who Wins? by Wu Xing Hua is a children's book about a school bully named Mao Mao, who is described as "dark-skinned with a head of oily curls". (Photo: Facebook/Umm Yusof)

SINGAPORE: A Chinese-language children’s book that was criticised for racist content has been moved to the adults’ section in public libraries following a three-month review.

The National Library Board (NLB) said on Monday (Oct 19) it has completed its review of Who Wins? by author Wu Xing Hua in consultation with an independent panel.

After considering public feedback and the views of the panel, NLB said it has decided to move the book to the family and parenting section located in the adults’ collection.

“Parents and guardians can make use of this book to discuss how children can deal with bullying in schools and correct any potential misunderstandings that children may have,” NLB added.

READ: NLB removes Chinese-language children's book from libraries after complaint about 'racist' content

The book was reviewed by the Library Consultative Panel, an "independent citizen-based committee comprising members from a cross-section of society”, NLB said. The panel provides recommendations to the board on books that members of the public have raised concerns about.

“As NLB acquires about 1 million books annually, we rely on patrons’ feedback and the review by the panel,” the board said.

CNA has contacted NLB for further comment.

In July, NLB said all copies of the book were “temporarily removed” from their shelves after complaints about the book's portrayal of a school bully named Mao Mao. The boy is described as "dark-skinned with a head of oily curls".

READ: Marshall Cavendish Education apologises for Chinese-language children's book, stops sale and distribution

A Facebook post by a reader known as Umm Yusof, who called the book "astoundingly racist", was widely shared. The post said the book describes Mao Mao in "explicitly racialised terms, and in contrast to all the other characters who are depicted as fair-skinned".

The reader also criticised Marshall Cavendish Education for publishing the book. The publisher later issued a statement to apologise and said it will stop selling the book and recall it from stores.

On Monday, Marshall Cavendish Education said it "welcomes" NLB's decision to move the book to the adult section.

"After an internal review, we have decided not to resume retail sales of the series," it said.

Marshall Cavendish Education said it had no comments in its reply to CNA's queries about the outcome of its internal review.

The publisher also thanked members of the public for their feedback and support. "We will continue to work closely with our myriad of passionate authors to produce content that supports, nurtures and inspires students," it said.

Source: CNA/zl(cy)

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