PETALING JAYA: The author of “When I Was A Kid 3” says he is surprised the home ministry has banned his graphic novel.
Cheeming Boey, who now resides in the US, said the book was initially well-received and allowed him to engage with readers in schools across the nation.
“It was my first book to win first place at a Reader’s Choice Award; so to be banned almost a decade later, comes as a shock to me,” he said in an Instagram post.
Yesterday, the home ministry said the book was banned as it contained material that is “likely to be prejudicial to morality” and ordered its sale to cease under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
This comes after dozens of Indonesians, led by NGO Corong Rakyat, protested outside the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta in June against the book because they claimed it contained a page in which an Indonesian maid working in Malaysia was unfairly criticised.
Corong Rakyat demanded the book be taken down from bookshelves. It also urged the authorities to investigate the motive behind the story and accompanying illustrations.
Published in 2014, “When I Was A Kid 3” was written by Boey about his childhood.
In the chapter that may have sparked the controversy, Boey’s former Indonesian helper had scaled up a coconut tree at an impressive speed.
Boey said his intention was not to offend anyone but rather to commend the qualities of his former helper.
“I believe this was a case of misinterpretation and, in some cases, taken completely out of context.
“I have focused much of my career and energy into the betterment of Malaysia, putting my country and culture on the map and, most importantly, to inspire the next generation. To offend was never the intent.
“I deeply apologise to the parties that took offence to this, and the people I have unintentionally hurt. I love, and those are not my core values,” he said.
Boey, who has authored two other books, also acknowledged the ups and downs of his storytelling journey. “This is a lesson I will learn from. I thank you all for this opportunity to educate and entertain.”