Friday, May 18, 2007


Elizabeth Wong muses about the seizing of Dr. Kua's book about May 13 and wonders why it was actually necessary for KDN officers to actually walk into a bookshop and seize 10 copies without paying when they could simply have asked the publisher for a review copy or when they could just have trotted along to the launch and picked one up for themselves.

It does look like heavy-handed tactics were employed for the sake of making a point very publicly ... which can't have been pleasant for the management of the book chain, or the staff.

Elizabeth reports today that:
MPH said they don’t want to sell it, as KDN has advised them not to, even though the book isn’t banned. ... Kinokuniya said, because the book is controversial, they will practice self-censorship and not sell it.

... There is very little that we can do, if bookshops do not live up to their social responsibility as frontliners in the war against ignorance and pem-bodoh-fication (a word first introduced to me by Jason Tan, editor of Off The Edge) of the minds.
Bookshops are businesses first and foremost, Elizabeth. Where got social conscience?

But word is that Popular, Times and Silverfish are still intending to sell the book.


Anonymous said...

Coming out with a book like this in Malaysia today and then getting upset because it got banned is a bit like walking through downtown Baghdad and then wondering why someone just shot at you.

You can't fight the system. There are other ways to fight the good fight that will work better.

- Ruhayat X

bibliobibuli said...

there is truth in what you say mr x. no-one is surprised, i think. we have plenty of precedents. and certainly i think there are folks seeing how far they can push ... but that's a necessity in any society (said my sociology lecturer many moons ago)

now perlease do name some other ways to bring about social change 'cos *scratching me head* i'm blowed if i can think of any

Anonymous said...

To illustrate:

Friend of mine is a PAS Youth committee member back home. They wanted to do some good by giving free tuition to primary school children. So they send in an application to the local authorities, who of course dutifully rejected it outright. My friend rightfully flies into a rage over a mamak session, but come on, he had to know that was going to happen, right? So why the indignation?

My question to him was: if they are sincere about their plan, why didn't they just submit the application under an individual's name and be done with it? But no, my friend insists that it has to be PAS or nothing.

Which leads to the next obvious question: who are you fighting for, really, at the end of the day?

Oh, I miss the days when I'd happily die on my idealistic sword. But you get nowhere, so you learn to lower your sights and expectations. The trick is to build it up under the radar so that no one will pay any attention to you. Someday things will reach the critical mass necessary. Might not happen in my lifetime but, hey, I'm happy to just give it a bit of a nudge every now and then.

The Amazing Screw-On X

Pelukismelukis said...

It's sad that the facts and information never seem to reach those who need to have their mindset changed the most; thus perpetuating a climate of apathy and mistrust amongst the general masses.
Ditto on the head scratching thing - I know it sounds a tad cliche but I guess it's really up to the individual to seek real and lasting change for his/herself first before thinking about changing the minds of the majority. Having said that, I'm all for free love :-)

Anonymous said...

Okay. So why does anyone need to do anything to bring facts and information to the masses? Perhaps the fact that they are not actively seeking enlightenment should speak volumes?

"The door can be wide open, but if the babies are not willing to get up and walk, then you might as well tape some clingfilm over their toiletbowls and have some fun."

- From the Collected Sayings of The Sagely Bored X

Pelukismelukis said...

Actually, thank god for those brave souls who so willingly put their own selves at risk for the sake of truth (I doubt if I would be as courageous at attempting such an endeavour). I did not mean to sound flippant with my previous comment; what I meant to say was, it would take a mighty big if not near impossible effort to persuade the powers that be to reconsider their stance on the issue - knowing how jingoistic and intolerant they are towards anything other than what they perceive as right. So ideally, it is up to the receptive individual to acquire facts and disseminate the information within equally receptive social spheres. :-)

Anonymous said...

eh Mr X,

stop copying my style of nicknames lah. be original, get original!


Viz And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Anonymous said...

If there is any originality left in this world, be sure to lead me to it.

X Makes Food Taste Better

Anonymous said...

just follow my lead. X marks the spot.

Viz For Vendetta

animah said...

Mr X and Viz
Immitation is the Something Form of Flattery.
I can't even be unoriginal cos I can't even remember the full quote.

Pelukismelukis said...

'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'

So true, I guess it's really about taking in bits and pieces of things that are already floating around somewhere out there and putting them together to form an object that most resembles one's intentions; like making soup out of store-bought cube stock; what really matters is the combination of (unoriginal) ingredients that go into the soup. just my humble opinion.

bibliobibuli said...

pistols at dawn, x and viz??

pelukis/melukis is such a sweet peacemaker ...

Anonymous said...

I've been trawling cyberspace and I don't understand the uproar. If an Arab guy insists on wearing a trenchcoat on a hot summer's day and then walks into a Tel Aviv bar just to assert his right to do so gets soundly beaten up by the locals, I'm not going to say he didn't deserve it.

The guy chose to title his book "May 13" in bold, red letters, for heaven's sake. He was deliberately looking for a reaction, and he got one. Seems like a fair sale to me.

Have An X, Travel The World

bibliobibuli said...

got my copy last night, viz

i think whatever you called it or put on the cover, it would still create the stir

Anonymous said...

Sharon, you Miss Marple, you..... I have to get my copy next week when Gerakbudaya promises me that the reprints will be available.

I think it is amazing that this book is still not banned considering how close the elections are. But it shows that Malaysians (and married relatives, that's you Sharon) are not an ignorant lot but is waiting for someone to pinch their ass to get going.

I was not born yet in 1969 but my mom told me that we had a neighbour whose son disappeared on that day after he went to the movies and never heard from again. Later on, a few years later, they were compensated by the government.

With the focus on studying and money-making and cheating other human beings, I wondered if this book had not come out, would anyone below the age of 35 know the significant of this date in
MAlaysia's history.

Chet said...

Actually, a more terrifying event that happened soon after the May 13 event had quietened down somewhat was the one in Lorong Haji Taib near Chow Kit. A Malay policeman was killed in one of the shops and that night, all the young Chinese men in the neighbourhood were rounded up for an ID parade. Why only Chinese? The May 13 incident had given rise to more suspicions between the two races, so that if someone in one race was hurt, the immediate assumption was that it was done by someone of the other race.

I remember waiting in suspense with my family for that knock on our door, but it never came because they stopped the door-to-door search on the other side of Chow Kit Road.

SecretHistory said...

If you really want to sell a book, title it, "How to Make Money while Sleeping"

Anonymous said...

I thought its already an established national-general knowledge anything printed/filmed materials to dispense to the general public have to get over certain kementerian(s) dead body FIRST before it can reach the audience?

If the writer believes what he is doing is the utmost importance; for the conviction of upholding social responsibility--to inform, enlighten, to expose the masses to the truth, for the good benefits of all, what is with the decision to publish a book, label it as potential best-seller, AND charge the public for it? (to buy the book for RM 20 at that).

If the conviction is pure, why MUST it be a book? Surely there’s otherway to get the message across.

Wouldn’t opening a blog do? Website? Start a closed-community, emails, discussion group, forums?

What is the true intention then? The money (to cari makan), prize, prestige (oh come on! Out of the three, there must be one at least; he IS a human, yes?) or The Cause?

If the writer still insists on forking the public’s money for the exchange of enlightenment, he could have write it under the disguise of fables, allegory, parody, satire and title it under “11+2, 5th month of the year” instead of a blatant "13 May" title.

Certainly beats than nothing at all.


bibliobibuli said...

well, maybe we shouldn't worry too much. latest news is that it isn't going to be banned anyway.

Antares said...

Bone soup, anyone? Lots of skeletons tumbling out of cobwebby closets, being unearthed by tectonic plate movements,
getting exposed at the bottom of dried-up mining pools. Dr Kua's 'May 13' is just part of a global phenomenon nobody can stop. The Age of Power Over Others is also known as The Age of Secrecy or The Need To Know.
Let's open our hearts to the incoming Age of Ethics and Total Disclosure! ("Oh, things will NEVER change." said the Stick-In-The-Mud with a sophisticated yawn...)

Anonymous said...

Antares, I heartily agree. With the anonymity that the Internet provides, it's enlightening to see how people actually feel deep down inside. All the real motivations behind the push for change tumbling out, as you say, unearthed by the liberating mask that one can wear.

The comments sections at leading-light alternative sites like Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today and Jeffooi, for instance, puts you right at the dinner tables of people who might otherwise be smiling as they pass you by on the streets. It's good to know that racism is, as we've always suspected, really a two-way street.

- Ruhayat X

caving liz said...

May 13 is back on sale at MPH in Mid Valley. I just bought a copy.

Anonymous said...

"You can't fight the system."

Isn't that like saying you just can't fight "the man" ?

Anyway you just might have been proven wrong cos it's on sale now.

"If you really want to sell a book, title it, "How to Make Money while Sleeping""

I think I saw that on the shelf at MPH :D

SecretHistory said...

I just bought the last two copy of "May 13" at Popular at SS14. I have to hunt the whole bookstore and saw it lying right in front of me on the table. One for me and one for my mom.

By the way Sharon, I want to tell you about my mom. Many years ago she was computer challenged and was too afraid to learn about this machine. Anyway late last year I decided to buy my new laptop and gave my old one to my mom (since it was bought with their money). And she decided to use to it to look at the trends of the stock market through the internet. She doesn't do much anyway except for the stock market.

Last weekend, to my surprise, she started to tell me to read Lim Kit Siang's blog and then we should subscribe to because she cannot finish reading the articles. So I told her how I found out about this 'May 13' book that was banned. And I told her to read this blog called 'bibliobuli' written by a passionate British Malaysia-residing lady. So I bookmark your site on the top of internet explorer so that she can click easily. I hope she reads. I will check up on her this weekend.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks a lot secret history. glad you found the book (i bought mine at the bloggers thing). and tell your mum i'm waving to her!

Anonymous said...

Oh. So the Government is okay again? Whee. I wish people would tell me these things... I can never figure out if the Government is supposed to be good or bad from one day to the next.

- The X That's Happy To Be Wronged