High Court allows G25 to challenge book ban

According to a report, G25 lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said that that the judge Kamaludin Md Said has scheduled January 23 for case management. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
According to a report, G25 lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said that that the judge Kamaludin Md Said has scheduled January 23 for case management. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PETALING JAYA, Jan 9 — G25, a group of retired civil servants advocating pro-moderation, got the High Court’s permission today to challenge the Home Ministry’s ban of its book titled Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation ― Islam in a Constitutional Democracy.

Lawyer for the group Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex that the judge Kamaludin Md Said has scheduled January 23 for case management, The Star reported on its website.

According to news reports, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan did not object to G25’s the leave application.

The group expressed their hopes the leave would be the beginning of a fair hearing against the ban.

“G25 hopes that this leave will be the beginning of a just hearing to lift an unwarranted ban against a book which merely seeks to explore the concept of moderation in Islam, in the context of Malaysia as a constitutional democracy with a national aspiration to be a fully developed country and a model for the Muslim world — concepts which promote peace and development for a better Malaysia,” it said in a statement later.

The book, which supposedly speaks on the Islamic bureaucracy in Malaysia and the relations it had with the Federal Constitution, was published by Marshall Cavendish Singapore in December 2015.

The foreword in the book was written by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while a copy was given to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak the same month it was published.

It was later banned by the Home Ministry on July 27 last year, under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No 12) Order 2017.

The ban was served via a notice on the Federal Government Gazette and was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In the notice, it stated that printing, importation, production, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution, or possession of the publication is likely to be prejudicial to public interest, which is why it was prohibited throughout Malaysia.

An application for a judicial review to quash the ban was then filed by the group, led by Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, last October.

The ban caused ire among social activists and G25 members themselves, with most of them baffled at how a book could have ignited public disorder. 

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