Monday, December 04, 2006

Offensive Publications?

It wasn't till I dropped by Sensintrovert's blog (on my usual Petaling Street perambulation) that I realised that the Sun's article about "restricted books", written by Jacqueline Ann Surin was in yesterday's paper. Let's put it like this. Worst fears are confirmed.
The secretary of the publications and Quranic texts control division, Che Din Yusoh, said the minister could use "absolute discretion" to gazette "undesirable publications" as banned under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

At the same time, Section 9 empowers ministry officers at Malaysia's entry points to refuse the importation of "undesirable publications" that are deemed to threaten public order, morality, security or national interest, even if they have not been gazetted as banned.

... Che Din said he could not confirm if Silverfish Books' list of titles had been banned, noting that officers at each entry point might have different lists.

He said that sometimes, books were confiscated at entry point and only later gazetted as banned. The publishers may also be asked to return these books to the sender.

"As the country's moral guardian, we cannot let these books in," Che Din said, adding that most of these titles were offensive because of their sexual or violent content.

"Some children's books may also have offensive content and contravene conditions in the PPPA."

He said some classics also had to be banned because they contained liberal Western ideas that were "not conducive" to Malaysian society.
And it's that line that really scares me. Particularly as it refers to books which were previously freely available.

Why has the ground shifted so radically in the last few months?

Update:

Aminah posted this comment below and I want to highlight it:
Jacqueline called me up and said that this is the best time to send in letters to The Sun as this is now a current topic.
Send your letters to letters@thesundaily.com
Everyone who reads this, flood The Sun with your letters.

39 comments:

sympozium said...

"Liberal western ideas not conducive to Malaysian society" - hah! It's true: such liberal ideas eg democracy, human rights, right to choose one's religion etc should NOT be allowed in to decay Malaysian values like corruption, incestual rape, killing your own kids with bleach and gas etc...while we're on this, we'd better bring in genital mutilation: god forbid if women are allowed to experience orgasms! The structure of society would crumble!

Time to evacuate this Ship Of Fools called Malaysia.

Ted Mahsun said...

Damn these liberal Western ideas!

animah said...

The letter was scheduled to go out today, but I think some rewording is called for. I am not content with Deputy Minister's suggestion that any restricted book can be appealed against. The fact is they should not be denied entry in the first place.
I have a question for the readers of this site:
1. Should there be a law banning books in the first place? i.e. should Malaysian law be amended?
2. Should the law stay, i.e. allow the confiscation of books, but call for clear transparent guidelines as to what books can be allowed entry.

The Visitor said...

Farenheit 451.

animah said...

Jacqueline called me up and said that this is the best time to send in letters to The Sun as this is now a current topic.
Send your letters to letters@thesundaily.com
Everyone who reads this, flood The Sun with your letters.
In the meantime I have decided to still send the letter to PM etc - 50 signatures as I am not satisfied with the government response.

Tiara said...

..."moral guardian"?!?

Oh yeah, today's Off The Edge has an article by Kam Raslan about this very thing.

sympozium said...

Your slogan should be "Censorship of Books is UnMalaysian"

Or - "Visit Malaysia 2007: Come Help Us Burn Some Books"

My view: There should be no law banning anything EXCEPT hypocrisy.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks tiara!

animah - am posting that up front and on the other blog

sympozium - i vote you for p.m.

sympozium said...

As Prime Moron? :-)

bibliobibuli said...

if the cap fits ...

sympozium said...

The Dunce Cap :-)))

bibliobibuli said...

of course. now get back in your corner.

lala said...

why in the world is spongebob on the list? is it because he's topless? wears white underpants proudly? he's a sponge, for God's sake!! is the ministry afraid the big bad sponge will influence the kiddies to dress promiscuously?

The Visitor said...

Spongebob has no genitals.

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Lala, there's a nifty little debate going on among parents of my church who thinks Spongebob is unhealthy for their kids because of his "relations" with Patrick the starfish. Gay connotations abound, according to them, which was designed to pllute their kids' minds. One of them read about it on another forum on the Internet and began telling parents in my church to ban Spongebob from their TV...

I wonder if the ministry somehow got wind of this and did everyone a favour of banning it?

The Business Statistics book was banned because they do not want people to become so good at calculating statistics that they are able to figure out the Bumiputra equity for themselves and find out that the ASLI report is TRUE and the government's a FRAUD!

The breastfeeding book was banned because...hmmm... it's about BREASTS, duh!

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex...whoa...way TOO LIBERAL!!! We *obviously* do not want to corrupt our kids morals now do we? Perhaps that's the reason why there's virtual silence on the proposed sex education subject that the Ministry of Education was mulling over not long ago!

Gah!! The ISM is ran by old idiots like Che Din!!!

Anonymous said...

So far so good, soon we will be banning ads because people see boobs in ice cubes. Then we will truly be a developed country.

Seriously though, who cares ? it's not like I read anything much offline these days.

animah said...

To Anonymous,

"Seriously though, who cares ? it's not like I read anything much offline these days."

You can take the I don't care stance until the day, you realise that there is nothing left online to read because Malaysia has started banning "offensive" websites, put up a massive filter like Singapore & China used to, and worse, like Myanmar, require all persons accessing the Internet to obtain an Internet licence.

Our space is already shrinking. If you don't stand up for what you believe in, you will only have yourself to blame.

bibliobibuli said...

lala - rumour is that spongebob is gay as eternal wanderer says ... but i must say i never knew about his relationship with patrick the starfish! love it!

i suspect that some of these reasons for banning have been picked up from the US (where book bannings in schools, for e.g. seem to be pretty commonplace). but as raman said before, you can play a nice little parlour game just guessing

anonymous - just because YOU don't read much offline ... LOL

sympozium said...

Not reading much offline should be banned.

hockleng said...

why Midnight children????

sympozium said...

Children shouldn't be awake after midnight, hence the ban.

animah said...

I've perused the Printing Presses & Publications Act 1984 (PPPA). I won't go into the "absolute discretion" that the Minister (not other officers) have - there is some case law on the subject and we really would need a lawyer well versed in administrative law to advise.
Under section 9, the Minister may refuse the importation into Malaysia or withhold delivery or return to the sender thereof outside Malaysia any publication which he is satisfied contains any article, caricature, photograph, report, notes, writing, sound, music, statement or any other thing which is likely to be prejudicial to public order, morailty, security, the relationship with any foreign country or government, or which is likely to alarm public opinion, or which is likely to be prejudicial to public interest or national interest"
Section 9 A empowers "senior authorised officer" (someone who is declared by Minister to be a senior authorised officer for the purpose of the Act, generally not below the rank of ASP if he was a police officer) who "reasonably suspects" the above grounds to "withhold delivery of such publication pending the decision of the Minister to deal with it as provided for under section 9."
The question is, are the KDN officers "senior authorised officers" and have any of the titles been submitted to the Minister for decision. If they haven't even submitted the titles, they are clearly acting ultra vires. Note that only the Minister has the "discretion", not the officers.
Letter going out tomorrow.

bibliobibuli said...

wow. no flies on you animah.

dreamer idiot said...

Sad to say, I think this is only one of the many signs, or if I may call it, symptom of a rising tide of intolerance creeping in our society, public life and governance. Yes, voice up we may, but will we be able to hold up for long? (especially when there are a significant number who are unawares, uninformed of consequences thefore disinterested or worse, totally apathetic)

As animah has said, slowly and gradually, more and more control will set in, more policing, where the political enters and make inroads to the personal and private, till such that the simple personal freedoms which we once enjoy would be eroded, then lost.

...rage, rage against the dying of the lught.

Greenbottle said...

i watched BORAT last night...malaysia sometimes remind me of Borat's kazakhstan....

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Oh no, no absolute way am I going to let this country turn into a China or a Myanmar, I love Malaysia too much for that to happen... I'm not going to sit quietly in one corner and watch it all happen without a fight. If it weren't for my elderly mom, I would've stage a demonstration in front of Parliament and make a noisy protest! I'll do anything to stop this rot! Even if it means spending a couple of years in Kamunting like Hishammudin Rais for protest!

Subashini said...

that last sentence made me want to laugh, because despite "western" ideas that are apparently sending all us saintly asians off to hell in a handbasket, we're still employing western architects to design our buildings, western chefs to work in our restaurants, hell, western directors to direct some crappy kebaya movie... where does the west end and the east begin? what bothers me is the particular brand of intelligence at work here; some guy in charge of deciding what's obscene and what's not for YOU and for ME apparently has the reasoning skills of a two-year-old. bad is bad, and good is good, and never the twain shall meet. i can't even write something coherent, this is pissing me off beyond imagination... you wonder sometimes, did i come back for this crap? why don't they just admit they don't understand what salman rushdie writes about instead of resorting to tired old binaries like east vs. west?

will attempt a letter to the sun when i'm less emotional... does anyone know if the kam raslan article can be read online?

and yes, did i read something in the star recently about bloggers and registration? some guy thought this would be a brilliant idea, to stop the spread of seditious, malicious, evil lies...
boy, it's a tough world out there for us malaysian infants.

The Visitor said...

rage against the dying LUGHT???

bibliobibuli said...

subashini - this is as much of "off the edge" as you can get online

bibliobibuli said...

the irony is of course that if you're able to understand such literary works your brain is already corrupted beyond redemption!

Subashini said...

thanks for trying, sharon - but i must apologise... i had a major brain-fart moment. i already own this month's copy of "off the edge" which i bought yesterday. have not had time to browse through it yet, but of course the article must be in there... when tiara said "today's off the edge" i thought she meant the edge daily.

Glenda Larke said...

I like the bit about distributors can submit copies of the banned books to Putra Jaya Ministry of Internal Security for reconsideration.

Um, run that by me one more time? How does one submit a copy of a book you are not allowed to import and which has just been confiscated at the border?????? and what happens if you do? Are you then liable to some kind of fine for possessing a banned book?

bibliobibuli said...

i guess that single copies would be okay for own use ... it's the lorries that are getting stopped

... one distributor that i met recently is sending books he thinks could get stopped to putrajaya first

BawangMerah said...

Referring to spongebob being gay, what are they trying to say. Boys can't be close friends with other boys because they'll end up becoming gays. Absurd. They don't let us be close friends with women, because , well apparently, men and women shouldn't be close. And now we can't be friends with guys as well! The more I try to think about it, the dizzier I get.

lil ms d said...

weh ayam back! please update me!!!

ps sharon when i was in joburg, tried to read your blog and a page came out that said

page objectionable :D

aiyoh!

bibliobibuli said...

bawangmerah - and don't you dare get close to animals either

ms d - objectionable? that is too funny! a lot has been happening esp. since the restricted books story broke in the press. can't wait to hear your joburg stories.

chillipaddy said...

One step forward for excellent building architecture, five steps back on building a productive nation.

Anonymous said...

One way to promote sales on books is to "BAN" them! People are just curious cats; and they will ferret book-stores and junk shops for such books.

I remember the court case in UK concerning D. J. Lawrence's " The Lady Chatterley's Lover " . It was banned ; and later it was lifted ! So, the Ministry should be mindful of "restricting" or banning books.

The ban on the " The Malay Dilemma " by Dr. Mahathir was later uplifted.

Restricting or banning a book does not prevent readers from getting hold of them! The Ministry is making a big mistake by banning books. Let readers decide what books they want to buy. Readers are not small children who need to be checked.
In kelantan, the Municipality has gone one step further: fining women or girls who do not dress
' decently " What is " indecency "to one may be " decency" to another.

S.H. Huang

Anonymous said...

Greenbottle, There are elements of every country in Borat's Kazakhstan, that's why people identify with it. That's what made it such a hit. As for "evacuating" this "ship of fools", all I can say is, don't let the door hit ya on the way out :)

Animah, I don't see why everything should be taken to it's logical extremes, but if it comes to that, I know my way around it.