Malaysia’s ‘moral guardian’ ministry restricts books for ‘offensive’ content

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The following publications are among scores that have been barred from some customs checkpoints in Malaysia for their “offensive” content – that is, of a sexual or violent nature, or of liberal Western ideas that are “not conducive” to Malaysian society:

Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror The True Story of Radical Islam; Anatomy for the Artist; Beauty of Yixing Teapots; The Heart of Tantric Sex; Fashion Illustration Next; The Private Life of Chairman Mao; Disney’s Counting Adventures Sound Activity Book, The Photographer’s Guide to Composition; Practice of Business Statistics; E-tales: The Best (and Worst) of Internet Humour; How to Talk to Your Child About Sex; Music for Sleepy Babies; The Probability of God; Breastfeeding Your Baby; Making Globalization Work.

And also Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Shalimar the Clown, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Anthony Burgess’ The Malayan Trilogy and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (the full list is available here), reports the “Sun”. SEAPA and the Centre for Independent Journalism have issued alerts on this.

While the titles are not on the Internal Security Ministry’s list of officially banned books, they have been barred from being transported in by road from Singapore via the southern checkpoint in Johor Baru.

Section 9 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) empowers ministry officers at Malaysia’s entry points to refuse the importation of “undesirable publications” that are deemed to threaten public order, morality, security or national interest, even if they have not been gazetted as banned.

“As the country’s moral guardian, we cannot let these books in,” says Che Din Yusoh, the secretary of the publications and Quranic texts control division in the ministry. Read the full report in the “Sun”.

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