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Malaysia: Home Ministry Bans Controversial Book

Photo from the blog of Magick River

Malaysia's Home Ministry has banned author Kim Quek's book “The March To Putrajaya- Malaysia's New Era Is At Hand” under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as ‘it may incite public hatred and anger’.

Online news portal The Malaysian Insider reported that the Home Ministry Secretary General Mahmood Adam said that the book was banned because of its baseless accusations against national leaders, among others. He also went on to add that ‘the printing, importing, publishing, reprint, sell, distribute or offer to sell or in possession of such books is an offence punishable under the law’.

Kim Quek has subsequently released a press statement denying that the book is not suitable for the public.

Throughout my book, one consistent theme is my appeal to everyone to be faithful and to defend the Constitution. Even on the much politicized Article 153, which has been deliberately and dishonestly misinterpreted to carry out all sorts of racist agenda and therefore has attracted much misgivings, I have only words of praise for it.

I welcome any criticism and open dialogue over any part of my book, as it is through honest discourse that we will bring benefit to the nation.

As for the Ministry's ban over my book, I reserve my right to take the necessary legal recourse to protect my constitutional rights.

Currently, the blogosphere is dominated by bloggers who are providing the link to a website that was created yesterday where the book can be read and downloaded. Many are also taking to using Twitter to spread the link. SUARAM, a Malaysian human rights organisation, released a statement in their blog, criticising the Home Ministry's action.

The Home Ministry is being unreasonable and defensive by linking criticism of the ruling government with public disorder when criticism of those in power is a hallmark of a functioning democracy.

SUARAM believes that no books should be banned to prevent the circulation of ideas, and that the people should be free to seek and receive them.

Once again, application of the law is arbitrary and is being abused by the state as a political tool for hegemonic purposes rather than to maintain social order.

The government should respect Article (10) of the Federal Constitution and Article (19) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) which clearly state that, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Another blog, Hornbill Unleashed, also believe that the ban was unjustified.

A country where its citizens are habitually fed with state-controlled information – and nothing else – is a backward country which is bound to fail in this information and globalised age.

If we look around the world, all the countries that are consistently ranked the best and the most admired for its social and economic achievement are societies that have free media.  It is only through free flow of ideas that potentials of the mind can be fully developed.  And it is the quality of the mind that determines the rate of progression or even regression of a society.

Genuine reforms mean eradicating corruption and abuse of power, and the substitution of bad values with good ones.  And what better way to achieve that than by allowing a free media to act as watchdog as well as conduit and nursery of creative ideas?  Unless, of course, there is the absence of political will to leave the existing comfort zone of corruption and decay.

Malaysia is a country with tough media censorship laws, and was ranked 131st in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

The link to the book can be found here.

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