23/04/2024 05:30 PM

By Rohani Mohd Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA) and the Swedish Embassy have collaborated on the launch of the ‘Let’s Read 10 Minutes Programme@BERNAMA’ today, aiming at fostering the culture of reading in bridging cultures and strengthening community ties.

The launch was in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Book and Copyright Day celebrated every April 23.

The partnership also aimed to promote the organisation of library programmes across various locations throughout the country, enhancing community engagement and fostering a love for reading nationwide.

BERNAMA chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai said the widespread practice of reading is often seen as a hallmark of developed societies, reflecting its integral role in fostering educational and intellectual growth. 

“Developed countries like Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom have long embraced a strong reading culture. In these countries, reading is a common activity not just at home but also in public spaces, recreational areas and during transit,” he said in his welcoming remarks at the launch Tuesday.

Also present were Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil and Swedish Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Joachim Bergstrom.

The ‘Let’s Read 10 Minutes Programme@BERNAMA’ supports efforts to promote a reading culture that is widely embraced throughout Malaysia.

“Currently, reading mediums have evolved significantly, undergoing a transformation that has made information more accessible through electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-articles. 

“We hope that today’s programme, aimed at encouraging reading among BERNAMA staff, will further these benefits,” he said.

Wong said the annual national celebration of ‘Let’s Read 10 Minutes Programme’ is a symbolic initiative designed to foster a culture of reading in daily life.

It was held concurrently across Malaysia, from 11 to 11.10 am, both physically and online.

Adding further, Wong said this year's programme has had a greater impact due to collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden in Malaysia, which has enhanced the festivities and emphasised the significance of international cultural exchange in promoting literacy.

Wong said libraries in Malaysia have significantly heightened their services, transforming themselves into vibrant social institutions that contribute to addressing social issues.

It is no longer just a place for borrowing books but has evolved into cultural hubs that offer a variety of attractions and activities. 

Therefore, the community is encouraged to embrace reading as a versatile activity and take active steps to promote book exchange and donation to help circulate and maximise the use of books within the community, ensuring that valuable resources benefit those in need.

“Additionally, conducting reading sessions for children and the elderly can be viewed as a vital social responsibility, nurturing literacy and bonding across generations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Bergstrom said reading empowers people and “it allows us to know and understand what is happening in our societies, to follow and participate in the democratic debate.”

“Reading is declining, and this is an issue for democracy. Reading is an essential part of democracy. Reading breaks down the barriers between people and lets us see new perspectives. It builds a sense of community, of shared nationhood. Reading is vital for democracy,” he added. 

Bergstrom said such an initiative by BERNAMA to promote reading is a fantastic initiative and the Sweden Embassy is proud to give its support. 

BERNAMA in its media release said the event was participated by about 30 students and teachers from Sri Aria School in Kuala Lumpur and officials from several government agencies, highlighting the initiative’s broad impact.

Themed "Reading Preserves Unity," the event this year celebrates reading's vital role in fostering a sense of harmony and understanding across diverse communities, the statement read.

Reflecting the day’s global significance, the event has been enhanced with an international dimension, showcasing joint global reading initiatives, it added.




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