Malaysian school-going children are doomed!!!!

I was browsing Facebook and then I stumbled upon a post. So much rage coursed through my veins after looking at the pictures posted. SO. MUCH. RAGE.

How could something like this get published and sold to our school-going children?

I shudder to imagine what kind of adults they will become.


First things first, please remember this book cover and avoid it like the plague:

Fortunately, the parents who bought the book in the Facebook post are educated enough to know that the proverbs have been lost in translation but what about parents who are not so educated?

What’s the point of getting educated if the quality of education is horrifically subpar? How can these children improve and be better than the previous generations??

This is appalling!

To show how bad the translations are, I’ve taken to re-translate the malay translations myself and put in the correct ones too.

I had so much anger while doing this, so if you spotted any mistake please let me know in the comments below, thank you!

Last but not least, this is the publisher of said abomination…BOYCOTT!

69 thoughts on “Malaysian school-going children are doomed!!!!”

      1. I tried to correct some of your translation.

        1. A bad workman blames his tools. – Pekerja yang berkualiti rendah akan menyalahkan peralatan yang digunakan apabila prestasi kerjanya tidak bagus.

        2. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – Sudah lama tidak bertemu, rindu rasanya hati antara kita(replacable by situational basis)

        3. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush – Seekor burung digenggaman bersamaan dua burung disemak. Malay meaning- ertinya- apa yang sudah dikecapi adalah lebih bernilai dari apa yang belum pasti.

        4. A cat may look at a king – meaning- Seorang yang darjatnya lebih rendah tidak dikurangkan kebebasannya dalam kehadiran golongan yang darjat dan pangkat lebih tinggi.

        Alright, I have to stop here.
        The culture of an Englishman in their version of democracy may not come naturally to a more traditional of a Malay culture. No. 4 is a clear indication that there are a contradiction to Ketuanan Melayu where people of lesser rank are restricted in their dealing with people of superior rank.

        A direct translation doesn’t takes into consideration of cultural difference between different races which influence the translation of their languages. This may cause confusion amongst people that are not proficient in the deeper aspect of both the Malay language and English language.

  1. It’s a massive joke to other people in the education publishing industry. To be fair, it’s just an open market book and isn’t used in the school sylabus set by the MOE. This book is like a lousy bottled drink flavour in an entire shelf of other bottled drinks by different manufacturers.

  2. This is what happens when we privatize & politicize education. I was told by some teacher friends that publishing houses have strong political links & more often than not the schools have no say in the choice of books selected as text books or even recommended reference books; ALL are somehow somewhat in someone’s favour

  3. Did you do the translations? Or you actually found them on google web? I personally find your translations and explanations to be much more useful. These days you just can’t simply buy any proverb books you see in book stores simply because they’re not well translated.

  4. Haahah ROFL, this is beyond imagination or perhaps the very lack of it by the writer.

    How is it even possible? I really cant accept it!!

  5. This is ridicule..I mean i can understand the need for mastery of local lingual(BM). However, kindly don’t ridicule the English language with ridiculous translations that don’t make sense. I can honestly see drop of english mastery.
    I have not hired many of the locals on the basis that for a degree or masters student, if a basic conversation in English can’t be mastered , what are the changes on an international platform or chances of expression or argument for the betterment of the company or organisation
    I sincerely hope that emphasis will be shown once again to the importance of English in Malaysia.
    Being a local born on local soil, if i could master the local linguage(BM), i don’t see any reason why the popolation can’t master english in hopes for a better career future .

  6. Really you guys in Malaysia are still surprised by the total lack of accountability from a nation that has second class citizens VS bumiputeras.

  7. Good job on your part for the re-translation.
    I can understand your anger while undertaking the “corrective measures”. I’ve found some errors in your version, but I dont blame you. You were angry for a good reason. Thank you for this revelation.

  8. Hoax or truth? It is natural to get idiotic and dense publishers and as well editors.

    The point is whether Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka has a hand in this ‘job’. First get the ISBN number first and then we shall know.

  9. I think the author of the book does not understand English. How can this wrong translation be taught to children. Parents who bought these books should return and ask for refund

  10. Your post is being shared on social media. Well done on the expose. This is ridiculous, the way this type of book is released to our kids.
    Awesome work on the translation as well.
    I know our education system is poor, but they’re not all bad. I already have a lot of friends who think so badly of the system and this doesn’t help.

  11. Well done – I didn’t know some of those proverbs myself! And to do it so well in BM is no mean feat :-) Hmm, just number 10 “All’s well that ends well” – I don’t know how to translate it myself, but does it really have anything to do with how things start? more like, if it has a happy ending then end of story, doesn’t matter if the middle wasn’t so smooth… (although hard to express all the connotations in a BM one-liner). Next round, maybe these textbooks should be written online, with everyone free to make corrections before it goes to press! ;-)

  12. They should burn this kinda books than focusing on burning bibles. At least bible teaches more moral and more logical proverbs than this book.

  13. some of the proverbs you direct translated it, but some of the proverbs you wrote out its meaning in Malay. It is quite confusing to the kids.

  14. The malay language lacks sufficient vocabulary to articulate the true meaning of those proverbs. That’s why your kids should master English. The world is advancing so quickly that indigenous populations that chose to ignore it will eventually be assimilated or worse yet, conquered. Its only a matter of time.

    1. There is no point of ridiculing the language itself. The one who translate is the one to be blamed. There is always a way to translate the proverbs provided you master both language well.

  15. We r doomed, aren’t we. Feel so hopeless & betrayed.
    We will be overtaken by the likes of Indonesia, Thailand & Burma in no time …

  16. Kim, I found what I think is an unintended mistake in your translation. Although the translation of the proverb on bread by you was grammatically correct but I think the intended meaning is ” mempunyai sebahagian adalah lebih baik daripada tidak mempunyai apa-apa langsung”. Just my 2 cents, not sure if I’m right or not. :)

  17. Irresponsible people who are out to make money by trying to dupe whomever they can. Whose fault is it?
    Publishing a book is so easy that anyone can do it. Credentials are not a requirement. There lies the danger.
    Like it or not, English Language is a necessity to get ahead.

  18. I was working as an Editor for a cincai publishing company (Bluedale Publishing) like this. Basically, I could leave any errors as much as I wanted, but the so-called Editor In Chief (self-proclaimed, he was also the CEO) would only proofread the first page (to see if his name printed there was spelled correctly) and skim the whole book, pretending busy. When errors like this showed up, he’d just blame the writers and me, even though we all knew he was supposed to be the 2nd proofreader.

    So, as readers, other than sending a feedback to this company, the next time we purchase a book, we have to also take a look inside to see whether it is worth our money.

  19. Besides the horrendous translation, I noticed “clutch” was mispelt too.

    Oh well, so much for a developed nation by 2020.

  20. I met Milon Nandy a couple of times about 20 years ago. He was 75 – 78 then and spoke very good English.

    As far as I could recall, his manuscripts was handwritten in black ink. Big and tidy handwriting. I salute him as a writer who could write and write…. He has written a few hundred books (mainly on Grammar) for the past 50 years.

    As for the translation, I think there are six possibilities:

    (a) Milon wrote the English proverbs only.

    (b) Milon wrote the proverbs in English and a few BM words or phrases (incomplete sentences).

    (c) Milon asked the editor to help him to translate but this important step was overlooked. His message was not passed from the person who received the manuscript to the new editor.

    (d) The layout artist typed word-by-word and did not notice the mistakes. This is common in almost all publishing companies.

    (e) The aforesaid publisher has confidence in the manuscript and therefore did not edit the manuscript at all or did not proofread the CRC thoroughly.

    (f) The publisher did not pass the layout copy or CRC to Milon for his proofreading.


    MOE does not interfere in publishing except the publication of primary and secondary school textbooks.

    Editing and proofreading are the most important steps in publishing. The tasks are meticulous and only people with an eye for details can do well (but not 100 percent perfect).

    An editor may take weeks or months to edit the entire manuscripts very thoroughly. In some cases, the editor may assist the writer to rewrite where necessary.

    A book editor needs expertise and the relevant knowledge pertaining to the subject and on the job training to ensure quality publications are released.

    I am a BM linguist. Pardon me if there are mistakes in the above-mentioned comments.

  21. No. 27 – Cut your coat according to your cloth – i think it means – Spend according to what you have – My BM isnt fantastic – Hanya belanja wang yang anda miliki dan tidak lebih

  22. As a matter of fact, this is a publication error of one single publisher. Your generalization to the standard of education based on this incident is uncalled for. Mere evidence presented based on an isolated event to support your generalized statement does not enter well with any logic or rational argument. I am sure your action to inform the relevant publisher of the error will be more appreciated. Well-being of our country does not rest on one privilege group but all of us. Thank you

  23. Is the cover right? FIRST STEPS. Those two words alone indicate what the quality is within. Secondly, English language prowess with children of our nation got doomed from about 30 years ago. Thirdly do rest assured the books will not be hauled by any enforcements of any kind. A sizable quantun will be sold to ignorant parents and tuition centres both legal and llegal will be the likely agents. What a name for the publisher: BUKU MUST.

  24. I just finished high school not too long ago and I agree, some books I’ve seen in bookstores have certainly lost its quality. I’ve resorted to handing down most of my reference books to my sister who is still in high school since at the time I bought them, my parents were there with me to filter through the purchases. It’s just so difficult to find books that don’t provide such mistakes nowadays. Even now, not just limited to that proverbs book, a lot of exercise books ranging from primary to secondary have poor translations just for the sake of having a bilingual book. Hopefully when Liam is older, you might be able to still find books which had its quality checked out!

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