Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's not about cartoons, stupid

So Zunar, Malaysiakini's resident cartoonist is now under arrest.

That's a picture of him on the left, taken from his site

To arrest him just hours before he was due to launch his latest book Cartoon-O-Phobia is certainly no great PR move. A knee jerk reaction that serves to make the authorities look ridiculous.

To be honest, though sometimes the man is funny I don't always agree with the tones his cartoons take. There are times when I find the images crass but the thing is, Zunar is no different from others like him who lampoon and ridicule public figures.

What the government needs to come to terms with is that not everyone agrees with it. Locking up cartoonists for simply having an opinion is ridiculous.

Yet Zunar is no exception in the cartoon world. Plenty of his compatriots have had their works censored according to this article in Pasadena Weekly.

I may not always like the stuff he puts out, but I support Zunar's right to do what he does best - encapsulate issues or hot topics for the day in a single, searing image.

(Sidenote to Steven Gan of Malaysiakini, though. Him saying Zunar was "better than Lat" at the book launch was uncool. Lat is as much a Malaysian institution as roti canai. You don't need to make a statement about freedom of expression by tearing down another cartoonist.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Politically sensitive books seized by book raiders!

The KDN obviously has nothing better to do but to go around to Popular Book Store and seize books.

Well-known activist and blogger was deservedly upset about the confiscation of copies of his book Where is Justice along with a collection of political funnies by Zunar, 1Funny Malaysia.

The books haven't been officially banned as yet, but supposedly the content is under investigation as threats to national security.

Should you want copies of said books, do support Nat by buying the books where you can get them before they're seized or by ordering a copy direct from Kinibooks.

According to a report on Malaysiakini, the Special Branch got involved as well in the book seizure.

Seriously, sending the police in to save the public from books? As if a book of comical satire could somehow disturb the peace and create unrest.

With the political climate being as turbulent as it is now, I predict more books will be seized. I have a feeling that a lot more books are going to come under scrutiny, including books on history not officially 'sanctioned' by our government.

Expect more news on book seizures to come, folks.

Remember, whatever happens, manuscripts don't burn. They live on so long as we fight for them.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The books! They are dangerous!

The following Bernama report highlights just why this blog will probably continue to survive. Seriously, one book could "create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country"?

Is JAKIM off its rocker?

I think the powers that be would prefer it if Malaysians didn't read. People who don't read, don't know much. Those who don't know much, don't think much. Those who don't think much are no threats to society.

Stay away from book on Muslim women, Muslims advised

The book 'Muslim Women and The Challenge of Islamic Extremism' can create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country, according to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM).

Its director general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Wan Mohamad said the contents of the book contravened the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Guidelines issued by Jakim in 1996.

"Several obvious errors were found (in the book)," he said in a statement today.

He said among others, the book stated that Islamic family laws and Syariah criminal laws were promoting prejudice and discrimination against women.

The book also questioned the fatwa institution and the ban on non-Islamic scholars from discussing Islamic issues. It also promoted the re-interpretation of the verses in the Quran, especially those on gender bias, he said.

Wan Mohamad said the book had been scrutinised, checked and referred to the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Committee chaired by the Mufti of Perak, Harussani Zakaria.

"Hence, Muslims in the country are advised to be wary of reading materials which contravene Islamic teachings. If in doubt, refer to the guidelines issued by Jakim," he said.

Wan Mohamad said Jakim also respected the High Court's decision yesterday to lift the ban on the book, but felt that it was its responsibility to explain to the public on the errors found in any Islamic book in the market.

- Bernama

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A victory for banned books

Finally, good news for a change.

An excerpt from the piece in the Star: (bolded part is mine)

KUALA LUMPUR: The SIS Forum (Malaysia) succeeded in throwing out the Home Minister’s order banning its 215-page book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism.

High Court judge Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof on Monday ruled that the book is not a threat to public order.

He said the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia’s (Jakim) objection to the book was that it could confuse Muslims, especially those who with only a superficial knowledge of their religion, as the publication explains Islamic teachings according to the writers’ own views.

“Can this disrupt public order? I think not.

“Only seven pages out of 215-page book are said to have offended the guidelines by Jakim, and those came from only two of 10 articles published in the book.

Hopefully other judges will rule similarly in other cases of perposterous banning.

Free the books!

And yes, I know the site's been in cold storage for a bit. But you'll see at least weekly updates on book banning in the country and occassionally the world. Fingers crossed!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

MDB gets interviewed!

Exciting news! Elizabeth Tai of The Star called up for comments on the book banning situation in Malaysia. So MDB will be mentioned in The Star which means the blog will now have perhaps one more reader besides the five who guiltily check up on MDB once in awhile.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Manuscripts still don't burn

Way back in 2006, a few enraged bloggers started a blog to protest Malaysia's illogical stance on book banning.

It was called Manuscripts Don't Burn at What started it all was the following list that included, of all things, books on breastfeeding, Yixing teapots, music for sleepy babies...and Robbie Williams.

Sad to say but the blog has lain dormant for the past couple of years. There had been little buzz on book banning for awhile...until now. For a current list of banned books (thanks to Sharon at Bibliobibuli) go here.

Besides book banning, Manuscripts Don't Burn will now also highlight censorship of other print media, how banning works here and other things related to local suppression of the freedom of self-expression.

If you'd like to contribute to Manuscripts Don't Burn or know someone who does, leave a comment or email

Other links:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 13 Book Seized

According to Malaysiakini copies of the book May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 by Dr. Kua Kia Soong were confiscated by a team of ministry officers visited the MPH bookstore in Midvalley Megamall this afternoon and the officers advised the popular bookstore not to sell the book as it "may be banned".

This also follows the call by three senators for the book to be banned.


Just read on Elizabeth Wong's blog that the book is not banned - just that the first printing is sold out and now you will need to wait for the second. (Get your orders in!)

She describes exactly what happened at MPH yesterday ... and threatens legal action.

Hmmm ... I think the KDN has actually done SUARAM a big favour by boosting the "must have" value of the book.

What's so controversial?

According to Malaysiakini:
The ‘official version’ of it has always been the violence was triggered off by the Chinese-dominated opposition supporters’ provocation in celebrating their electoral victory which saw the ruling Alliance Party suffered a major setback.
Dr. Kua who spent three-months researching recently declassified documents at the
Public Records Office in London including official correspondence and intelligence reports by British officers, apparently argues that the riots were not random acts of communal violence but a coup d’etat attempt by a faction within Umno, and that the coup attempt against then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman was also backed by the police and army with the intention of forging a new Malay agenda.

The official records and history books it seems put blame on the
opposition parties “infiltrated by communist insurgents” and this does rather turn the whole thing on its head.