PETALING JAYA: Following the government’s ban on a book authored by a group of eminent Malay moderates, the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) says the home ministry should review its censorship process for print publications.
In a statement today, the NGO’s co-president Gan Ping Sieu said this was not the first time the ministry’s decision to ban certain books had attracted bad press for the country.
He pointed to the 2011 ban on an article in The Economist on Malaysia’s electoral reforms, adding that numerous other “questionable” decisions to ban books and magazines had been made over the years.
“Such questionable decisions only fuel suspicion that officials in the home ministry are stuck in a time warp or are susceptible to political interference,” he said.
“Poor execution of censorship policy curtails freedom of speech and allows undesirable content to slip past. It also discourages civil discussions from taking place.
“This is why a review of the SOP in the censorship process is necessary. Taxpayers have a right to know why certain publications do not see the light of day here.”
He added that rightfully, any publications that do not fan racial and religious hatred or promote violence should be allowed.
The book, authored by G25 and titled “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”, was banned by the government because it was deemed prejudicial to public order.
The ban 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.
Gan, who is a former MCA vice-president, said banning the G25 book sent the wrong message about the government’s commitment to moderation.
He pointed out that the book was published over 18 months ago, adding that it was freely accessible online.
“Most of the views expressed in the book have been in public domain for years and are subjects of public debates and civil discussions.”
He added that he had read the book himself and did not see how the publication could be prejudicial to public order.
“On the contrary, the collection of essays by prominent and moderate opinion-shapers would only help foster better ties between the different communities in this country,” he said.