Academic: M’sia becoming ‘nanny state’ with G25 book ban


PETALING JAYA: An academician has cautioned that the country is heading towards becoming a “nanny state” where the government interferes in almost every aspect of a person’s personal choices and views.

Prof Tajuddin Rasdi of UCSI University said Malaysian intellectuals should be allowed to discuss matters of religion and other social issues.

“It seems now intellectuals cannot offer an opinion on religion because they did not go to a madrasah.

“It is a problem because religious groups are allowed to comment whether a sculpture is okay or not, or whether a mosque should have a dome,” the architecture lecturer told FMT.

He was commenting on the home ministry’s recent ban on a book titled “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”, featuring essays by members of the Group of 25 (G25) eminent Malays, as it was considered “prejudicial to public order”.

He said the book was written by noted former ambassadors, judges and high-calibre academicians, such as political scientist Chandra Muzaffar.

He said it offered a different perspective on issues and the writers were not trying to jeopardise society.

Tajuddin said there was a need to allow ideas to be aired. He said the absence of diverse opposing views had led to Malaysian university students lacking the ability to articulate ideas and issues well.

Tajuddin also pointed to the civil service which is paid for with money taxed from the people, but which then imposed undue inconvenience on the people, who are unaware of their rights.

“When we go to a government building, the parking lots there are only for civil servants while the public has to park further away. But the building is to serve the people not to serve itself (civil service),” he said.

In a similar vein, civil servants are given residential quarters or housing allowances, but the public, including new graduates who are unable to pay their rental, are not given the same facilities, he added.

He said university students needed to think about whether this scenario was acceptable and become more aware of their rights, something that was only possible if they are exposed to diverse ideas and views.

The ban on the book was made under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No 12) Order 2017, and signed by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on June 14.

It was gazetted into law on Wednesday and can be viewed on the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) e-Federal Gazette.

“The printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession of the publication which is likely to be prejudicial to public order, likely to alarm public opinion and likely to be prejudicial to public interest is absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia,” the gazette read.