Sunday March 18, 2012
Write your way to Dublin
By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN
If you’re a whiz with words, write an essay that may earn you a trip to Ireland’s capital city.
IF YOU have a good command of the English language, creativity and perhaps a little luck, here’s your chance to win a trip to Dublin.
The Irish Embassy is organising the ninth Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians, an annual essay writing competition that sends its winners to the city for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, the largest of its kind.
The competition was launched by Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Maglin D’Cruz at the the National Library’s auditorium.
Ireland’s ambassador to Malaysia Declan Kelly who spoke at the event, said that this year’s topic was “Be careful what you wish for”.
He added that the topic was something older members of the audience could relate to.
“Adults in the hall will be able to undestand this year’s topic better, but it will be interesting to see what students have to say in their essays,” he said.
“I encourage all eligible secondary school students to take part in the competition. We received over 1,000 entries last year and even though it’s no easy task to deliberate over them, we hope for more entries this year.
An avid reader, the proud Irishman invited young aspiring writers to experience the rich literary heritage of Ireland.
“The city of Dublin city proves it conduciveness to literature by the number of nobel prize winners in literature it counts among its residents. Many literary giants have called Dublin home, George Bernard Shaw was one of them,” said Kelly.
He said that the Irish also share a lot in common with Malaysians. “Both have been colonised and have the friendliest people.”
Kelly finished his speech by reminding this generation of youth that even though they have all kinds of intelligent gadgets like tablet pcs and smart phones, they still need to prove that they themselves are intelligent.
“No matter how many IT gadgets you have mastered, your generation still has to prove that you can use your brains and not rely on gadgets to do the thinking for you,” said Kelly.
Maglin said that he was happy that for the sixth time in a row, the National Library played host to the competition’s launch.
“It shows the commitment between the organisers to improve the standard of English among young Malaysians through imaginative and creative methods.
“In support of Malaysian authors, the National Library has also submitted two books for this year’s Impac awards,” he said in his speech.
Hundreds of students from SM Sains Alam Shah, SMT Setapak, SMT Cheras and SMK St Paul in Seremban attended the launch.
Among those who came was Faris Hazmi Zainudin, 16, who attended the launch despite being on crutches after a cycling accident.
“I broke my ankle while cycling home from school. Next year I can drive, but ‘Be careful what you wish for’ right?
“I love English, that is why I am more than willing to walk up the stairs at the National Library to hear all about the competition.” Another eager teen was Kishen Nair, 14, from SMK Cheras who said that the competition’s topic piqued his interest.
“I think the topic is interesting and allows you to go down many different avenues and approaches when writing the essay.
“But I’m only in form two this year and I don’t have the confidence to join the competition just yet. This is the first time I’ve ever heard about it,” said Kishen.
Muhammad Fakhuma Ubadillah Md Hafiz from SM Sains Alam Shah on the other hand was bursting with enthusiam to join the competition, and he even brought the matter up to his accompanying teacher.
“I do lots of reading at home and I sometimes speak in English to my family, that’s why my grasp of the language is pretty good. I first heard about the competition in 2006 and I have been wanting to join ever since, hopefully this year I will,” said the 17-year-old.
Muhammad Fakhuma thought the topic this year was something he could work with, explaining that the first thing he thought of after reflecting on the topic was being famous.
“Everyone dreams of becoming famous at some point, but you really don’t know if it’s for better or worse. So, be careful what you wish for!”
After giving a speech on the details and fun bits of his trip to dublin, the winner of last year’s award, Daniel Rajasingam Subramaniam shared some advice for students joining the competition this year.
“When you write, write from the heart. From past experience I can honestly say it is better to write something you are familiar with, than something alien to you,” he added.
SMK Cheras English Teacher Bala Segar who accompanied his students to the launch, said competitions like this help students develop interest in English.
“It’s a method that works, there’s incentive, the thrill of competition, plus it’s an out of classroom thing they can endeavour on at their leisure.
“Our students lack nothing in creativity, it is only a limited vocabulary and mother tongue interference that holds them back,” he said.
“When I read their essays, suddenly a weird play on words or phrase pops up and I notice they are literally translating word for word from their mother tongue.
“Sometimes when they’ve given up figuring out the correct translation of a word, they simply substitute it with a word from their mother tongue, the word will stand out in their essay like a sore thumb,” he added.
In light of the situation, Bala said he would definitely encourage his students to join the competition if only to get them writing.
“Every effort they expand speaking and writing builds confidence in them and develops a liking for the language,” he said.
The competition, organised by the Irish Embassy in collaboration with the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, the National Library and The Star, is supported by the Education Ministry and is open to all schools in Malaysia.
The competition is divided into two categories. The junior category for those aged between 14 and 15 and the senior category for those aged between 16 and 18. Essays must be written in English and must be between 800 and 1,200 words. Students may submit their essays via e-mail to
The closing date for entries is on April 13.