Transparency Needed In The Offer Of MyCreative Grants

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 – Many writers and publishers welcomed the announcement by MyCreative Ventures last July that it was taking applications for its Literature and Book Publishing grants from July 19 to Aug 30, 2021 in support of the country’s creative industry.

In the media statement, MyCreative also said that the grant was an initiative from the Creative Industry Recovery Grant (CIRG) through the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) in an effort to revive arts and creative activities among literature enthusiasts.

Almost a year later now, many who had sent in their applications have not received any reply to say whether they have been successful or that their applications had been rejected.

Applicants who had taken the extra effort to speak to a officer from Penjana were also put in touch with relevant officers who were not able to answer queries in full and instead were told to wait for the results.

The results up till July 18, 2022 never came, said one applicant who spoke to Weekly Echo on the condition of anonymity.

A call to the MyCreative office on the matter today, by Weekly Echo was redirected to an officer who gave several reasons why there may not have been replies to the applicants.

“There were many applications. We were overwhelmed. But the replies should have been sent to your emails.”

There were no emails, the applicant insisted.

To a question on any particular reason why a particular book on a professional field could have been rejected, the answer was: “It was academic and we were looking into creative works.”

But what about those who applied for grants for a creative fiction book, and still did not get a reply.

“The mail should have come.”

To questions posed on who were the successful applicants, how many applications came through and if the titles of the books that received grants were available, the response: “I am not able to give those details.”

If a journalist needs these details, who can they speak to? “Our communications person.”

Weekly Echo has not been able to reach the Communications contact as of to date.

“While we ponder on the offers announced by the Government aimed at helping the Rakyat, perhaps we should also ponder on the mechanisms involved in translating the offers into the hands of those deserving it, with receipt and acknowledgement,” said one applicant, who left a full-time job to focus on writing a non-fiction book related to the accounting profession.

“There must be a way of auditing of the giving and receiving of any form of cash assistance from the Government to the people to ensure that the help is not lost in transition.

“This will not be about just grants for writers or other arts enthusiasts, but other forms of assistance that are offered to the people including the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat. Are those who deserving it getting the help?

“Or is the Government satisfied with the list it has. Should it not have another list of people who are not satisfied, particularly those who are not from the B40 or even M40 list but who are just as hapless?

“This question needs serious pondering from the government committees formed, with cash allowances in tow, to look into the matter. Prihatin or care cannot be a catchy tagline but a genuine effort from the Government to the Rakyat,” the applicant said, adding that it was not about getting or not getting the grant at the end of the day.

“It is about how genuine the government is with its assistance programmes. It is about how those who are in the positions to decide on who gets help and who does not, do their work. How fair or meticulous are they in their assessments?”

Coming back to the Literary and Book Publishing grant, Malaysian National News Agency, BERNAMA reported that a total of RM3.8 million in aid had been approved for the literature and book publishing industry through the grant applied in 2020.

“Since the application was opened last year, the response for the CIRG literary grant has been very encouraging with a total of 229 publications supported including non-fiction works, graphic novels, poetry, biographies, studies and digital books. An encouraging number of applications is also expected for this round,” it said, citing a statement from MyCreative dated July 21.

It also said the grant could be used for research, writing, publication, sale and promotion of local literature works, fiction and non-fiction works, graphic novels, comic books, poetry, biographies, research, reports and digital books.

It also quoted the then MyCreative chairman Noor Azmi Mat Said saying that he hoped the grant could continue to support and boost the efforts of art activists in the literature and book publishing industry.

Perhaps, when MyCreative gets around to replying the emails of their applicants from last year, they should also add on what basis their applications are rejected.

“The business of writing a book can be a long and an arduous effort for those who pursue it seriously to the point of leaving a full-time job, just to sit, focus and put in what needs to be in the book that it serves a purpose for the reader,” the grant applicant further said.

“For a non-fiction book, careful research and keeping in synch with the current trends so that the book remains relevant by the time it reaches publication are all just part of the herculean task involved. Hence it will be less cruel if MyCreative gives timely response to its applicants so that they can move on and not have hopes on getting any grants.”