NLB moves children's book to adult section after complaint that it is racist

 The book Who Wins?, written by Wu Xing Hua, has been off the shelves since July 19, when NLB decided to remove the book for review.
The book Who Wins?, written by Wu Xing Hua, has been off the shelves since July 19, when NLB decided to remove the book for review.PHOTO: UMM YUSOF/FACEBOOK
 The book Who Wins?, written by Wu Xing Hua, has been off the shelves since July 19, when NLB decided to remove the book for review.
The book Who Wins?, written by Wu Xing Hua, has been off the shelves since July 19, when NLB decided to remove the book for review.PHOTO: UMM YUSOF/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The National Library Board (NLB) has moved a children's book to the family and parenting section in the adult's collections of its libraries after a complaint that the book has racist messages.

In a statement on Monday (Oct 19), NLB said that it came to the decision on the Chinese-language book, titled Who Wins?, after a review was done in consultation with the Library Consultative Panel.

"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," the board said.

The Library Consultative Panel is an independent, citizen-based committee comprising members from a cross-section of society. It provides recommendations to NLB on its review of books that members of the public have raised concerns about.

The book Who Wins?, written by Wu Xing Hua, has been off the shelves since July 19, when NLB decided to remove the book for review.

It is a picture book aimed at children aged seven to nine that features a "dark-skinned" boy with "oily curly hair" named Mao Mao - Chinese for hairy - who is an aggressive school bully.

It was published in Singapore by Marshall Cavendish Education as part of a series of five books titled Amazing Adventures Of Pi Pi.

Library user Estella Young, 42, had written a post about it on her Facebook page in July under the social media name Umm Yusof.

Describing the book as "astoundingly racist", she noted in the post that the villain is described in "explicitly racialised terms, and in contrast to all the other characters who are depicted as fair-skinned".

She added: "What on earth possessed Marshall Cavendish Education to publish a book in which the sole dark-skinned character is irredeemably nasty - especially when his appearance is irrelevant to the plot?"

Marshall Cavendish Education later apologised to readers through a statement on Facebook on July 21, adding that it would cease the sale and distribution of the rest of the series and recall available copies from retail stores.

In its apology, the publisher said it had no intention to produce content promoting discrimination in any way.

"The books we publish cater to an all-inclusive society where diversity is respected and celebrated, and our team is dedicated and committed to that cause," it added.