Saturday, August 08, 2009

Johan Jaafar on Censorship

Censorship comes in many forms. Some of the books mentioned were not banned wholesale by governments, but there are Little Napoleons out there trying to show their power. It took someone with an axe to grind to initiate such an intellectual calamity. ... Books are supposed to represent the best of the nation's intellectual tradition. But, sadly, books are banned and burnt for challenging prevailing assumptions or deemed detrimental to the ruling elite. Worse, they are suppressed for being politically or religiously incorrect. Or for being different. Books are supposed to nourish the mind. Books help to inculcate good values in society, encourage healthy debate and enlarge the realm of learning. Banning books is not an acceptable method to suppress freedom of expression.
Johan Jaafar dedicates his column in today's New Straits Times to the topic of banned books - a timely topic - though one wishes he had had gone a stage further and point a finger at Malaysia's Little Napoleans.

Something I didn't know and am frankly quite shocked by (especially as I've been unhappy about Pak Pram's work being banned in his home country) :
Closer to home, the late Pramoedya Ananta Toer, one of the best writers Indonesia has ever produced, was involved in the Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat, better known as Lekra. It was controlled by Partai Komunis Indonesia and denounced works that were anti-rakyat or "irrelevant to the struggle". ... Writers were labelled, condemned and their books became bonfires. Sadly, Pramoedya's chequered past in his involvement with Lekra caught up with him. Prominent Indonesian writers protested when he was conferred the Magsaysay Award for Literature. Their argument: he stifled creativity and suppressed literary works.
Anyone know any more about this?


Buddhaphish said...

Do you mean of selected works by Pak Pram that are banned? And if so, which ones? Because you can easily get a selection of his books in Indonesia, even at the Soekarna-Hatta Airport. Cheaper than in Malaysia too!

Buddhaphish said...

"ONE can perhaps understand if Madame Bovary and Lady Chatterley's Lover were banned. There were those who considered the novels by Gustave Flaubert and D.H. Lawrence as immoral and containing "explicit sexual descriptions"."

Err... there are more salacious novels out there being sold in Malaysia right now! The horrors!! ;)

savante said...

I'm more curious on how they select books to ban. Can anyone - meaning simplistic narrowminded folk - just make a suggestion? And the folks at the board will just blindly follow?

bibliobibuli said...

buddhapish - they wer banned in Indonesia for a long time, but are available now

savante - i think they react to complaints from the public much of the time ...

Anonymous said...

The question should be more docused.

Are there books banned today in Malaysia?

If so, which? If so, why?