Police probing book with ‘insulting’ cover of modified Malaysian coat-of-arms for alleged sedition, three other laws

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed speaks during a press conference June 30, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed speaks during a press conference June 30, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Bukit Aman today confirmed the seizure of 313 books for alleged violation of several laws, including the Sedition Act, following complaints that its cover of a nude child flanked by human-faced two tigers stepping on a crocodile resembled the national coat-of-arms.

The book is titled Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope In New Malaysia and is published by GerakBudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd’s Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. Its cover art is deemed “insulting” to a national emblem.

Federal Criminal Investigations Department director Commissioner Datuk Huzir Mohamed said police received 32 complaints to date over the cover art and are investigating the case under Section 5 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, Section 8 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

He said a team from the Bukit Aman’s Classified Criminal Investigations Unit raided a company in Petaling Jaya, Selangor that was distributing the books at about 3pm today.

“During the course of the raid, we were informed that a total of 1,000 books have been printed.

“We have already identified the printer involved in the printing of the publication,” he said during a press conference here.

Of the 1,000 books printed, 313 were found to be kept in storage which were subsequently confiscated while the remaining 687 books have been distributed after purchases were made online, Huzir disclosed.

He also said no arrests have been made so far, adding that police will be calling up the author, publisher and several other individuals linked to the publication of the book.

On Sunday, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki urged the Home Ministry to take action against the book and called for it to be banned.

Subsequently, PAS leaders joined his call yesterday, with information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad labelling the book “provocative” and allegedly threatening public order.

Other groups have since joined the attack, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali-linked Pemuda Negara, youth Parliament model Parlimen Belia, and Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia.

Subsequently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said imitating the coat-of-arms is an offence under Section 3(1)(a) of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.

The book publisher has since apologised, saying it had no intent to insult the coat-of-arms with its cover art.

Published earlier this year, the book features articles by political analysts and journalists, and includes reports on the 2018 general election.

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