Friday, August 20, 2010

Body2Body Snatchers

The Home Ministry has apparently seized* three copies of the Body 2 Body: A Malaysian Queer Anthology published last year, from KL book store, Kinokuniya, Patrick Lee reports.

Publisher Amir Muhammad commented :
They just walk into a shop and take the copies ... They don't want to go through the whole legal process (of banning the book). ... It's kind of ironic, (as) a month ago I decided not to reprint the book.
The book has sold more than 2,900 copies to date, so talk about making a gesture to shut the stable door after the horse has ... not just bolted, but disappeared over the horizon.

Lee points out that :
Amir is no stranger to the government's book-grabbing tendencies. ... In February this year, nine copies of his political satire title, “Malaysian Politicians Say the Darndest Things (Vol 2)” were seized by police officers from MPH Mahkota Parade in Malacca.
I must say that one doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry when this kind of thing happens. One way or another, we all get to read the books we want to read, and Malaysian voices will out.  But the fact that any book gets seized reminds us that Big Brother State is always there to attempt to trample those voices.

Anyway, Amir has some other good things going on to take his mind off all this.  The first edition of his new book 120 Malay Movies is all but sold out (Amir, please save me a copy!!). He has two more books on the best-seller list. And now he's steaming ahead with a book on his take of the Malay classic Sejarah Melayu. (Chapter One is here.)

Postscript :

Back to splitting semantic hairs.  Christine Chan writes in Malaysiakini :
The Home Ministry's Publications Control and Quranic Text secretary Zaitun Ab Samad said that the books entitled Body 2 Body, published by Amir Muhammad, have not been seized, rather only taken to undergo scrutiny.
"Taken" or "seized"

The first word is too innocuous (the stores have no choice but to let the books go so there is an element of  compulsion which "take" - sorry Pn Zaiton - does not cover).  "Seized" may yes, be too strong, a bit dramatic, but "confiscated", which is probably better, makes us think of school.  The books (we know from past form) will not be paid for, not returned after they have been "examined".  If the books were only for study then why on earth would three copies need to be taken??

Postscript to Postscript :

 Hazlan Zakaria gets round it nicely by using the word "appropriated"!


Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

A shame such things are happening.

I guess their pattern of thought is by not doing anything, they're condoning same-sex relationships in this country, which falls under the category 'subahat'.

It is truly baffling, the Malaysian way of thought (especially among the older generations). It's like to them, bad things won't happen if the public is ignorant about it.

By not having sex-ed in schools, it is assumed that teenagers don't indulge in extra-marital sex. If it's taught, then teachers are seen to be encouraging children to have extra-marital sex. But teenagers do it anyway, and end up dumping babies in toilets, trashcans and drains. All because they're never taught about using condoms and OCPs.

Same with same-sex relationships. I've encountered people brutally beaten (to a point where they sustained head injury) just because they're gay. So being gay is wrong, but beating the crap out of someone isn't?

So what's wrong with promoting understanding? What's wrong with hoping for tolerance, if not acceptance?

I've bought the book quite some time ago (placed at the 'Gender' shelf instead of 'Malaysian Literature' or something). Quite an enjoyable read, even if a significant number of the stories are filled with angst. Somehow, most GLBT stories I've read are about people having a hard time accepting they're gay, or communities having a hard time accepting gay people. I don't often come across stories where people know and accept who and what they are, and are making ends meet.

I think I read a story once, about a working-class young man, whose mother wants to hook him up with another man, simply because her son concentrates too much on work that he doesn't have time to go out on dates.

Why can't we have more such stories?

Anyway, will review the book soon(ish). Gotta re-read the stories first. I still remember the story about the policeman and the carpet salesman, though. Good story.

Morabira said...


Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

Hehehe, I knew I was going to anger at least a person.

Look, people need to differentiate fiction from real life. Just because people read/write GLBT fiction, doesn't mean they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. I, for one, read such stories to enjoy the dynamics of human relationships.

And instead of fighting against sex-education in schools, why not teach Islamic values to Muslim students to complement the sex education?

"Look, if you participate in extra-marital sex, you'll burn in Hell, but not for the sake of it. Even the best method of contraception has a risk of failure, and you may end up getting STD and/or a baby or three. Look at these newspaper articles on baby-dumping. You don't want to have to resort to this. So the ultimate prevention is restraint, not doing it in the first place."

"But if you are adamant about going straight to Hell, at least learn to use contraception to protect yourself and your partner(s)."

- same goes for same-sex partnership.

It's quite sad, because Islam promotes knowledge-seeking, but some people uphold Islamic values by keeping others in the dark when it comes to sinful behaviors.

bibliobibuli said...

I think it's sad that people start talking about being gay as "sinful behaviour". But you are entitled to your opinions, Fadz, of course.

Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

You got me wrong, Sharon. When I mentioned 'sinful behaviors', I meant anything Islam considers sinful.

Being in the medical line, I know most of the time, homosexualism and transgenderism is not a choice. It's a genetic and psychological imprint with or without upbringing factors. Certain people cannot help being who they are. You cannot just give medications or lectures or whatnot to make people heterosexual; truthfully it almost never works.

I have gay and lesbian friends. Those who accept who they are make for highly interesting characters. I also know people who try to blend in, who deny who they are. It's hard.

Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

Hmm...I think you got me into deeper trouble there, Sharon. My sister and I have had experience with zealots rage-mailing us.

So let me justify myself before that happens. Should people start saying, "What Islam considers sinful? You don't consider it sinful? Are you not a Muslim?", my answer is this: "I am a Muslim. Not a good one, but I do the best that I can with what I have. There are certain things I am deadset against, such as drinking alcohol, as it usually makes people violent and get involved in accidents, and extra-marital sex, as it usually leads to diseases and unplanned pregnancies. I'm against abortion unless it's for medical reasons. I'm not against cosmetic surgery if it helps boost a person's confidence in life. But I don't judge people who do all these things. I have advised people against destructive behavior. Does it make a bad Muslim? That's for God to judge, not other people."

That said, we are a community steeped in Eastern values. People are raised believing that a man marries a woman, and have children. Flaunting your same-sex preference in public, in front of families with children, will disrupt this value, and disturb the general public's Eastern sensibilities. C'mon, even talking about sex in public is considered taboo. Kissing in public is considered indecent behavior.

I know some people will go, "I don't bloody care what people think of me. I am what I am." But since we live among others, there are things such as respect for others that come into play.

If a person is gay, he still has a right to happiness. But french-kissing another guy in a shopping mall in front of children shows that he doesn't respect Malaysian sensibilities. He and his friends may have modern/Western views, but a lot others are still very Eastern.

Bear in mind that I'm not a cogwheel in the government machine (aka zombie) like what I've been branded. I'm just socially aware and highly opinionated.

Greenbottle said...

and what all those boring details got to do with body snatchers fadz?

i think amir phoned those bodysnatcher guys so that his book will have a second life tehehehe...

Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

You're right, it doesn't have anything to do with them bodysnatchers, except, of course, that I got to learn to keep my opinions to myself, once in a while :D.

Personally, when the book came out, I thought we're making some progress. One of the biggest taboo here, out in print.

I'm guessing those snatchers acted on someone's complaints, because the book's been out for quite some time.

So maybe I wasn't spewing some random nonsense after all.

bibliobibuli said...

Ok Fadz, sorry, I let you off the hook. Hope the zealots don't get you.

Yeah, could be Amir who called them Greenbottle!

Unknown said...

Could u accept the same-sex relationships???

Unknown said...

half half=>

Sabrina Tan said...

I think we should be more open minded about same sex relationships in this day and age and stop seeing them as "sinful" behaviours.

Many people argue that people do it just because they "like" the lifestyle. Based on true accounts of my homosexual friends, it isn't a glorifying "lifestyle" choice at all.

Some however are fortunate enough to live in liberal countries like NZ, which has approved same sex marriage in its legal capacities. People are starting to accept that homosexual couples can be as loving as any heterosexual couples on earth. They can be as great parents as they can be, like the other "normal" couples. However the sad thing for many homosexual families are if there is a split between the two, most of the time the one parent who isn't the biological parent of the child/ children won't get much custody rights after the separation because he or she isn't the biological parent.

These people are just normal human beings like any of us-- filled with emotion, empathy, higher thoughts and rational thinking.

bibliobibuli said...

Com - Not only "could" (hypothetical) but "do".

JonathanBebe said...

It's ironical they try and seize or whatever semantics one prefers of queer books when you are just a click or facebook or twitter away from all the same-same expose in BolehLand or elsewhere. Is it because it's about BolehLand real live characters in them? It's easy to condemn and persecute those who are helpless to defend themselves because the law makes them criminals, no? The test of one's maturity, open mindedness or even a bad or lousy whatever faith one is, is will you stand up for you frens who queer or same-sex when they are being victimised and humiliated by the law and holier than thou enforcement officers and who have you? I will.
Is the book on sale or still under investigation by some officer satisfying his closet preference lifestyle or homophobic pervert?

Fine Form said...

Hold on, they walked in and took three copies? they didn't take all of them, and tell the bookstore they couldn't sell them? you're complaining because they walked into a bookstore and took three copies for review?