Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka
Institute of Language and Literature
ديوان بهاس دان ڤوستاک

The Seal of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka
Agency overview
Formed 22 June 1956
Type Regulating and co-ordinating Malay language and literature in Malaysia
Jurisdiction Malaysia
Headquarters Johor Bahru (1956)
Kuala Lumpur (starts from 1957)
"Language is the Soul of Nation"
Agency executive
  • Prof. Dato' Seri Dr. Md. Salleh Bin Yaapar, Chairman

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Malay: Institute of Language and Literature, Jawi: ديوان بهاس دان ڤوستاک) (abbreviated DBP) is the government body responsible for co-ordinating the use of the Malay language and literature in Malaysia.


DBP Malaysia was established as Balai Pustaka in Johor Bahru on 22 June 1956,[1] It was placed under the purview of the then Malayan Ministry of Education.

During the Kongres Bahasa dan Persuratan Melayu III (The Third Malay Literary and Language Congress) which was held between 16 and 21 September 1956 in both Singapore and Johor Bahru, Balai Pustaka was renamed Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid was instrumental in setting up the institution.

In 1957, DBP moved from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur. Through Ordinan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka 1959, DBP was granted a charter with its own Board of Governors. With the charter, DBP has the power to form policies regarding the Malay language, responsible to spread the language and is able to go into book publishing business.

On 31 January 1962, DBP moved to its own building at Jalan Lapangan Terbang Lama (now Jalan Dewan Bahasa). The building's architect was Lee Yoon Thim and the prominent mural was by Ismail Mustam. Later in 1977, it opened offices in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, taking over the role of Borneo Literature Bureau in Sarawak. Soon after that, DBP had all the books in Iban language and other Bornean languages buried. However, some books were found and rescued. It was later alleged that all the books were burnt. Initially, DBP officials insisted on publishing works in national language (Malay language) or other vernaculars. However, soon after that DBP stated that they cannot publish books in regional languages because this would be against its own policy and is not economically sound in a small market of readers.[2]

Three other offices were established in Bukit Mertajam (1999), Kota Bharu (1999) and Johor Bahru (2003). The institution celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.

DBP also produces many talented novelists. Most outstanding DBP novel writers are Miss Siti Habsah Abdullah, Mrs. Malardevi Margamuthu, and Mr.Syed Satahkatulah Bin Mohamed Kalik.

Dictionary and other publications

DBP publishes the Kamus Dewan, for many years the prestigious dictionary of the Malaysian national language. The dictionary is not only descriptive, but rather it is also prescriptive, as it represents the results of the efforts of DBP to adapt the Malay language to accommodate the challenges of technology and science. DBP's role in developing and regulating the language may be likened to that of similar government bodies in other countries, for example the Académie Française.

It also processes many books, mainly work books and novels.


  1. Shuhaini Aznam. Guardian of the Malay Language. The Star. 25 June 2006
  2. Postill John. (2006). In Media and Nation Building: How the Iban became Malaysian. Berghahn Books. p. 59-60. Google Book Search. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
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