Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CIJ & WAMI Media Statement: Pleased with the High Court's decision to allow a judicial review over the ban of a book published by Sisters-in-Islam

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 4023 0772
Fax: 03 4023 0769

26 August 2009

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are pleased with the High Court's decision to allow a judicial review over the ban of a book published by Sisters-in-Islam (SIS).

CIJ and WAMI believe that the court's decision is an important step in upholding the constitutional guarantee for freedom of expression. According to a Bernama report, in making the decision, Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said he was satisfied that SIS's application raised important issues related to fundamental liberties, state jurisdiction and Malaysia's obligation to international human rights standards.

SIS's book Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism was banned by the Home Ministry on 31 July 2008, under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA), on the basis that the book was "prejudicial to public order". SIS was neither informed before nor after the gazetting of the ban and its members knew about it from the media.

CIJ and SIS's attempts to get a better picture of the process of book banning, including meetings with the Ministry, have so far been largely futile. It seems that the Ministry is either reluctant to reveal or unable to explain its interpretations of the broad guidelines for publications, as well as to be open about who is enforcing the bans.

While the new Home Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein promises to review laws deemed "obsolete", including the PPPA, there is no accompanying measures to halt the non-transparent practices enabled by the law. According to news reports, the ministry has banned 22 books this year, making the total of banned books to 397 in the past nine years. Some of the titles published by the media include potentially pornographic materials as well as interfaith and Islamic titles.

Banning books is a restriction of ideas and expression. The government must stop disallowing Malaysians to decide for themselves whether a book is good for them. The current practice of arbitrary banning, where publishers and writers are not consulted, aggravates the violation of free speech and paints an authoritarian image on the government's side. CIJ, which highlighted this in its recent submission to SUHAKAM, calls for the practice of book banning to be stopped.

Issued by Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Executive Director,


Wong Chin Huat,

For more information please contact Wai Fong at 03 4023 0772.

1 comment:

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


Imagine banning the poor innocent fan
Because the wind of change is blowing
The fan may even be caned or canned
Just because the wind thru' it is flowing

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 270809
Thur. 27th Aug. 2009.