PETALING JAYA: The editor of the controversial book titled “Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia” has been arrested by the police.
Kean Wong is currently being held at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters (IPD) and is being investigated for sedition, rights group Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy told FMT.
“He was nabbed at the Kelana Jaya immigration office while he was applying for his passport renewal earlier today,” he said.
He added that Wong’s phone was seized by the cops during the investigation.
Sevan later told FMT that Wong would be brought to court for a remand order tomorrow.
The book garnered controversy in 2020 after it featured an image similar to the national coat of arms on its cover, illustrated with a naked child flanked by two tigers with humanoid faces stepping on a crocodile.
The publisher, Gerakbudaya, later apologised for the design but said it had no intention of insulting or ridiculing the national symbol.
Huzir Mohamed, the Bukit Aman criminal investigation department (CID) director at the time, said that statements had been recorded from the eight writers who contributed chapters to the book, as well as graphic artists and a book sales adviser.
The book comprises political analyses and reports on the 2018 general election (GE14), which marked the end of Barisan Nasional’s six-decades of grip on power.
The book was banned in July 2020 due to complaints regarding its cover, which included a caricature of Malaysia’s coat of arms, the Jata Negara.
At the time, rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) criticised the probe, saying that the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963, under which the investigation was carried out, only prohibited the use of the official coat of arms without written permission from the minister.
“The law did not prohibit any artistic rendition inspired by the nation’s coat of arms, such as the one used on the book’s cover, which no sane person would mistake for the country’s actual coat of arms,” LFL had said.
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