PARIS: Malaysia has officially announced Kuala Lumpur’s bid for the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’ (Unesco) World Book City title in 2020.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid announced this in his speech at the world body’s 39th general assembly’s policy debate session.
Mahdzir, who is also the Malaysia Unesco National Commission president, told the assembly that the prestigious World Book City (WBC) status is crucial to nurturing reading habits among Malaysians.
“(Underscoring) our commitment, Malaysia and the city of Kuala Lumpur, intend to bid for the title of Unesco World Book Capital in 2020,” he said in the speech.
At a press conference later, Mahdzir said Malaysia will be submitting the application next year.
He said the bidding process is being spearheaded by a working committee comprising representatives from the Ministry, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), the National Books Translation Institute and the Malaysia Books Council.
“We will try our best to lobby for the prestigious World Book City status and we will submit the application to Unesco by next year. In the meantime, we are carrying out efforts to improve the reading habits of Malaysians nationwide,” he said.
Mahdzir added that Malaysia, which also sits on the Unesco executive board and the vice chair of the Electoral Group (IV) representing the Asia Pacific region, will continue lobbying for the WBC status in the 40th Unesco general assembly, scheduled to be held in 2019.
The WBC status is awarded to selected countries for a period of one year, whereby various activities surrounding the promotion of reading, literacy, the arts and culture are be carried out.
The current WBC title is held by Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.