THE Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami) condemn the Home Ministry’s banning of 1Funny Malaysia, Perak Darul Kartun and Isu Dalam Kartun. These cartoon compilations are by Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar.
According to online daily Malaysiakini, whose subsidiary Kinibooks is the publisher of 1Funny Malaysia, the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam justified the ban thus: “All three publications have been banned for … contents that can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies. The contents are not suitable and [are] detrimental to public order.”
The report did not state when the ban was imposed, merely quoting the official as saying so on 24 June 2010.
CIJ and Wami hold that no books should be banned to prevent the circulation of ideas, and that the people should be free to seek and receive them. However, we are particularly appalled by the ban’s rationale, which reveals the civil service’s flagrant partisanship toward the government of the day.
The civil service, by name and mandate, is supposed to be above politics and serve the public. This includes protecting the people’s right to express what they think of the elected government. The ministry is being nonsensical by linking criticism of the ruling government with public disorder when [criticism of those in power] is a hallmark of a functioning democracy.
The ministry also resorted to the undemocratic measure of confiscating the books for “study” in August 2009 and January 2010, a move that has intimidated retailers from selling them.
We call for an immediate lift of the ban and the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act under which the ban is being imposed. Once again, the law is being abused by the state as a political tool for hegemonic purposes rather than to maintain social order.
Yip Wai Fong
CIJ communication and publications officer
Wong Chin Huat
CIJ Malaysia is a non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and impart information.
Wong Chin Huat is also a columnist with The Nut Graph.