Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

KL move to ban some books comes under fire

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Home Ministry’s ban on some books translated into Malay has been rebuked, with one opposition lawmaker calling it intellectual persecution and an insult to Malaysians’ intelligence.

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Home Ministry’s ban on some books translated into Malay has been rebuked, with one opposition lawmaker calling it intellectual persecution and an insult to Malaysians’ intelligence.

Democratic Action Party Member of Parliament (MP) Zairil Khir Johari said it makes no sense for the government to ban translated versions of books such as Charles Darwin’s The Origin Of Species and Ms Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History, when the English versions are freely available at bookshops and university libraries in Malaysia.

In a statement yesterday, the second-term MP noted that while Darwin’s seminal book is on sale at many bookstores, its Malay translation, Asal-usul Spesies, is listed as a banned book under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1982.

He added that he had submitted a question on the book during last month’s parliamentary sitting.

In a written reply, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Malay translation of the Darwin book was banned because it endangers public harmony with its depiction of the origin and creation of species that goes against Islamic teachings, and is in contravention of the Islamic Materials Censorship Guidelines, Mr Zairil noted. However, the minister said the English version of the Origin of Species was allowed because there had been no complaints regarding the existence of any infringements of Islamic aspects as set by the federal religious authority, added Mr Zairil.

“The explanation by the Home Minister not only makes absolutely no sense, it is also a veritable insult to the intelligence of Malaysians. How can the same book be considered a public danger and against Islamic teachings in one language, but perfectly acceptable in another?”

“Worse, is the Home Minister also effectively telling Malaysians that knowledge is reserved only for those who are English-literate? Is a Malaysian who can only speak and read in Malay considered not mature enough to make informed decisions? As most people who fall into the latter category are Malays, the question then arises whether there is a deliberate policy to keep Malays ignorant,” he added.

Echoing a similar sentiment on the ministry’s actions, University of Malaya academic Azmi Sharom told the news portal Free Malaysia Today: “It’s an attack on Malay intellectualism because the government has a distorted and warped idea that Malays cannot handle worldly views that are different from their own.”

The Home Ministry’s website lists a total of 1,532 banned publications, including the Malay edition of the Ultraman comic book that reportedly referred to the popular Japanese superhero as Allah, reported The Malaysian Insider.

Last week, well known Malaysian author Faisal Tehrani, whose book Perempuan Nan Bercinta (A Woman In Love), was banned for purportedly promoting Shia teachings, had lamented that there were Shia books in English that are not banned.

“I do not understand it at all,” said the author. AGENCIES

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa