Language Matters: For Creativity and Dignity – A Writer’s Perspective (Pentingnya Bahasa: Demi Kreativiti dan Maruah – Sudut Pandang Seorang Penulis)


"A Tale of Two Languages" Lecture II

Language Matters: For Creativity and Dignity

A Writer's Perspective

By Mohamed Latiff Mohamed

Language is the basic constituent of a writer’s work. Imagination, values, and ideas can only be expressed through language. A language that empowers social, cultural, political, and intellectual imaginations thus becomes imperative for a meaningful literary endeavour. The latter in turn should secure and harness the dignity of the writer, the people, and the nation. Invariably, the very language of criticality and dignity is a challenge that we must confront.

In this special lecture on International Translation Day, one of Singapore’s leading Malay writers, Cultural Medallion recipient Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, offers his insight on the role of the Malay language in our society and culture.

The lecture will be in Malay with English interpretation.

Pentingnya Bahasa: Demi Kreativiti dan Maruah

Sudut Pandang Seorang Penulis

Oleh Mohamed Latiff Mohamed

Bagi seorang penulis, bahasa itu adalah asas penting untuk pengkaryaannya. Imaginasi, nilai, dan pemikiran hanya bisa terungkap dalam bahasa. Bahasa yang memberdayakan imaginasi sosial, kultural, politikal dan intelektual makanya menjadi sangat penting untuk ikhtiar sastera yang bermakna. Ini pula harus mengarah kepada pemupukan dan pemastian terwujudnya ataupun terjaminnya maruah, yang penting bagi si penulis, bangsanya dan negaranya. Justeru itu, bahasa yang berdimensi kritis dan menjunjung maruah adalah cabaran yang harus kita berdepan sama.

Dalam kuliah khas pada Hari Terjemahan Antarabangsa ini, salah seorang penulis Melayu terkemuka di Singapura, penerima anugerah Cultural Medallion , Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, menawarkan pandangannya mengenai peranan bahasa Melayu dalam masyarakat dan kebudayaan kita.

Kuliah ini akan dibawakan dalam bahasa Melayu dan ditafsirkan dalam bahasa Inggeris.

The lecture will be followed by a roundtable discussion:

Roundtable Discussion and Book Launch

Featuring: Azhar Ibrahim, Mohamed Pitchay Gani Aziz, Nazry Bahrawi, Nuraliah Norasid, Shirley Chew

As the National Language of Singapore, Malay holds a special place in the history and cultural fabric of the country. The power, precision, and elegance of his language and writing have made Mohamed Latiff Mohamed one of the most influential Malay writers since independence. A panel of writers, translators, and cultural practitioners respond to the lecture and share their own thoughts on the Malay language and the works of the Cultural Medallion winner.

We will also be celebrating the launch of the English translation of Cikgu’s poetry collection, A Crackle of Flames. A Circle of Rainbow, published by Ethos Books.

The programme will be in Malay and English.

See also:

For more information about TranslateSingapore 2017 programmes and to get tickets, please click here.

TranslateSingapore is back for the third year as we celebrate “SG Translation Month”! Click here to find out more about the highlights this year.



Mohamed Latiff Mohamed is one of the most prolific writers to come after the first generation of writers in the Singapore Malay literary scene. His many accolades include the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award (1998), the SEA Write award (2002), the Tun Seri Lanang Award, Malay Language Council Singapore, Ministry of Communication, Information and Arts (2003), the National Arts Council Special Recognition Award (2009), the Cultural Medallion (2013), and the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004, 2006 and 2008. His works revolve around the life and struggles of the Malay community in post-independence Singapore, and have been translated into Chinese, English, German and Korean. English translations of his works include Confrontation and The Widower.

Read the Words Without Borders interview with Cikgu Latiff, The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, here.

(Photo credit: Berita Harian)


Azhar Ibrahim, PhD is a Lecturer at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). He teaches classical and modern Malay-Indonesian literature. His research interest includes sociology of religion, sociology of literature and critical literacy, and the Malay-Indonesia intellectual development. He has published widely in amongst others, Contemporary Islamic Discourse in the Malay-Indonesia World: Critical Perspectives (2014); Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia (2014), and Menyanggah Belenggu (2016).


Dr Mohamed Pitchay Gani Aziz is an educator, critic, and researcher. He is the life President of the historic post-war Malay literary organisation Angkatan Sasterawan ’50. He is the author of the biography on the father of modern Malay poetry, Masuri SN. He has also published the works of some of the more notable national laureates, such as Muhd Ariff Ahmad, Suratman Markasan and Mohamed Latiff Mohamed. He is the editor of the six volumes of the inaugural Singapore Malay Heritage Collection series on works of the national laureates. He is also the editor for the annual national anthology of short stories and poetry since 2015. His first fiction, Mrs George Nelson Berton, was published in 1999 and his novel, Seking, was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2014.


Dr Nazry Bahrawi specialises in the study of world literature, translation studies, and Islam and culture between the Middle East and Southeast Asia. He is an associate editor of Critical Muslim (Hurst Publishers). An enthusiast of literary translation, Dr Nazry has translated Nadiputra’s Malay play Lorong Buang Kok (Cokelat: 2012) into English, and was formerly interview editor of the international translation journal Asymptote. He has published op-ed commentaries on culture, society and politics in international newspapers, including Al Jazeera, The Guardian, South China Morning Post and Today. His broadcast media appearances as a cultural critic include current affairs programmes aired on Al-Jazeera, Channel NewsAsia and Suria. He is the translator of the first English-language edition of Mohamed Latiff Mohamed’s collected short stories.


Dr Nuraliah Norasid holds a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Nanyang Technological University. She works as a research associate at the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA), where she studies marginalities and the confluence of religious ideas and secular society. Her writing has been published in QLRS, Karyawan Magazine, AMPlified and Perempuan: Muslim Women Speak Out. She was awarded the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016 for her novel, The Gatekeeper.


Shirley Chew was educated at the University of Singapore (BA Hons, 1961; PhD, 1977) and Oxford University (MPhil, 1969). She is Emeritus Professor at the University of Leeds where she was the incumbent of the Chair of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures from 1993 to 2003. Previous academic posts were held at the Department of English, University of Singapore, and the School of English, University of Leeds. She is the founding editor of Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings (2001--), co-published since 2011 from Leeds University and NTU. She has published widely in Postcolonial and Colonial literatures, and one of her current projects is a volume of her collected essays.

  • The event description was updated. Diff#281486 2017-09-26 11:10:19
More updates
Sat Sep 30, 2017
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM SGT
Add to Calendar
Complimentary FULL
Venue Address
100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064 Singapore
10-15 min walk from Bugis, Bras Basah and City Hall MRT stations. Buses: 145, 197, 32, 51, 63, 7, 80, 2, 7, 12, 33, 130, 133, 960, 56, C3, 980, 520, 851, NR7 & NR8
The Select Centre

Sponsored content