31 Mar 2011

Winstedt Denial on ‘Lazy Malays’

London, Fri. – The Malayan historian, Sir Richard Winstedt, today denied that he was author of a section of the Encyclopaedia Britannica which describes the Malay race as “lazy, dishonest and immoral.”

The noted Malay scholar, now 80, wrote to the Daily Telegraph following the paper’s publication of a Singapore report naming him as the man who has been commissioned to revise the offensive passage in the encyclopaedia.

Sir Richard, an ex-Malayan government official said: “The wording is calculated to imply that I am author of the article to be revised, which in fact is old and was not written by me.”

He was referring to a letter from Mr. John V. Dodge, the encyclopaedia’s managing editor, to the Editor-in-Chief of the Berita Harian.

It was after a protest from the Berita Harian that Mr. Dodge, writing from Chicago, promised that the passage would be changed “at our earliest opportunity.”

He added: “Sir Richard Winstedt has accepted our London editor’s request to handle this as an assignment of first priority.”

The Berita Harian has since established that the encyclopaedia’s section on Malay is accredited to two correspondents, one anonymous.

The named author is Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1927 to 1929, who died in England in 1941.

(Straits Times, 3 January 1959)