Monday, December 04, 2006


Have been waiting for the articles about the "restricted" books to begin appearing knowing that a couple of newspapers had picked up the story. Yesterday, the Sunday Star featured a piece (and on page 3!) entitled Banned Book List Baffling by Michael Cheang and Marc Lordes, who managed to get some interesting soundbites from Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow:
If the distributors feel that any of the restrictions are unfair, they can always appeal by sending the book to our Putrajaya headquarters for review. We will see what the problem is and correct it if necessary. ...
He adds that there were no blanket bans on any authors:
We ban titles, not authors.
(Not actually true. KKDN officers at Johor ban particular ISBN numbers, not necessarily all versions of a particular book*, to make life even more confusing.)

Anyway, the Deputy Minister sounds very matter-of-fact about it all. I wonder if this is the first time he's realised there is a problem? I wonder also if anything is happening in JB behind the scenes. An officer or two getting a roasting this Monday morning? I'd like to think that.

Because as Raman points out in the article, the problem is getting out of hand. And it isn't just him saying this, although he's the most vocal about it: it's everyone I know in the book retailing industry, and members of the public who are told that certain titles are unavailable to them.

If the KKDN in Putrajaya decide that the titles we want to read are unacceptable, perhaps we have to begin fight on a title by title basis. (I will start with the literary stuff and leave Sponge Bob to the rest of you.)

The Manuscripts Don't Burn blog is where the fight (for fight it is) is centered, so if you have comments or suggestions, that's probably a better place to post them.

*E.g. The bikini-clad ladies on the cover of The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood meant that one particular edition was confiscated. Other editions are not restricted.

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