PETALING JAYA: Tony Pua has called the government’s action to ban a book by Zaid Ibrahim as akin to that of a totalitarian communist-like regime.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP was referring to the decision by the home ministry last month to ban Zaid’s book “Assalamualaikum: Observations on the Islamisation of Malaysia”, under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPA).
“As usual, the only official reason given for this ban is that the book is ‘likely to be prejudicial to public order as well as public interest and is likely to alarm public opinion’.
“This book joining the list of books previously banned by the government is proof of Putrajaya’s outright disregard for freedom of expression and ideas in Malaysia,” he said in a statement today.
Last Thursday, the home ministry confirmed that a Federal Government gazette published on Dec 19 said the book, “Assalamualaikum: Observations on the Islamisation of Malaysia” had been banned. The order was signed by the home minister on Dec 4.
Pua also took note of his party colleague Zaid’s complaint that there was no notification nor consultation with him over the banning of the book.
“It goes to show the immense and arbitrary power that the PPA accords the home ministry to ban these without any clear reasoning.
“Such curt excuses to ban books certainly harks back to the Stalinist or Maoist regimes where any form of expression, whether in writing or in art, which are deemed prejudicial to the interest of the ruling elites are banned,” he said.
According to Pua, there were 44 gazettes on the banning of publications issued last year.
“Among the political titles banned were civil society group G25’s new book “Breaking The Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy” and reknowed academic Farish A Noor’s “From Majapahit to Putrajaya”, which was published in 2005.
“The banning of these titles without any clear justification shows the government exercising totalitarian control over what ideas can be discussed by Malaysians,” he said, adding that it goes completely against the values of democracy that our country holds so dear.
Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary, instead challenged the government to take authors and publishers to court to be charged for any criminal offences which may have taken place.
“Even if there were no criminal elements involved, the government must at the very least provide facts and justifications to prove the contents of these books to be wrong.
“However, the Barisan Nasional regime will not even pretend to rebut the arguments carried in the book, however feeble the rebuttals might have been.”