GOMBAK, 20 Jan 2009: The Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) makes it difficult for book publishers to conduct their business and should be amended, the Malaysian Book Publishers Association (Mabopa) said.
Mabopa secretary Arief Hakim Sani said the PPPA was outdated and easily subjected to abuse.
Mabopa secretary Arief Hakim Sani“I definitely think the PPPA needs amendment,” he told The Nut Graph in an interview. “Some of the wording in the PPPA makes it open to abuse.”
For example, he noted that Section 7 of the PPPA defines an undesirable publication as containing anything that is “in any manner prejudicial to or likely to be prejudicial” to public order, morality, security, and public or national interest.
This meant the law could be easily bent towards political aims, Arief said, because any publication could be penalised for being “against the government”.
Arief said this when referring to the steps publishers are taking to address book confiscation by Home Ministry officers.
In August 2008, Dr Farish A Noor’s From Majapahit to Putrajaya, published by Silverfish Books, was confiscated from leading bookstore Kinokuniya, on the grounds that it did not contain the publisher’s or printer’s terrestrial address.
Its contents are currently under study by Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim), even though the book had been on shelves for four years before it was confiscated.
Jakim has remained silent on its findings despite several queries by The Nut Graph.
As a result of the confiscation, Kinokuniya lost its entire stock of From Majapahit to Putrajaya and stopped selling the title pending a decision by the authorities.
Copies of Ann Wan Seng’s Rahsia Al Arqam, published by PTS Publications, have also been taken from bookstores around the country on four separate occasions, beginning May 2006.
However, the Home Ministry has not banned the title. Still, the seizures have hurt sales.
Arief, who is also PTS Publications co-founder, noted that in such instances, the authorities were acting within their power, but there could have been more negotiation and tact.
Arief said there was a need to clarify enforcement procedures to help protect book publishers and bookstores against arbitrary action.
He added that the government should also consider developments in the book publishing trade. Citing the example of export-oriented publishers, he said, “There are between 10 and 20 Malaysian publishers who cater to the worldwide market.”
Noting that foreign markets may have different requirements, Arief said, “If [these publishers] print according to their clients’ wishes, and those clients don’t want the book to contain the local publisher’s or printer’s name, [this would definitely violate] the PPPA.”
Mabopa, which represents the interests of 160 publishers nationwide, has been organising a series of seminars where ministry officials educate members about the PPPA
“If we engage the Home Ministry on a consistent basis, a lot of our suggestions will be considered,” Arief said, adding that the officials are receptive to criticisms.