Publisher Marshall Cavendish Education apologises, recalls Chinese book after complaint it's racist

Book removed from public space.

Belmont Lay | July 21, 2020, 03:19 PM

Marshall Cavendish Education, a publisher in Singapore, apologised on July 21 for any misunderstanding caused after its Chinese-language children's book, Who Wins?, was flagged by an adult complainant who thought it was racist.

The publisher told CNA it is stopping sales of the book and recalling copies of it back: "We have decided to cease the sale and distribution of this series and recall the books from retail stores."

The book depicts a school bully as "dark-skinned with a head of oily curls" and named Mao Mao, which is Chinese for "hairy".

It was written by Wu Xing Hua.

The first complaint appeared on Facebook on July 17 by a 42-year-old woman and mother, Estella Young.

Going by her Facebook alias, Umm Yusof, the woman criticised Marshall Cavendish Education for publishing the book.

She also wrote that the publication was "an astoundingly racist local book" as it describes Mao Mao in "explicitly racialised terms, and in contrast to all the other characters who are depicted as fair-skinned".

The Marshall Cavendish Education statement also said that there is no intention from the publisher to "produce content that promotes discrimination in any way".

"We appreciate the feedback from some public members who have highlighted their perspectives," it also said.

"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."

National Library Board (NLB) said all copies of the books have been removed from its libraries, as it is currently reviewing the title.