Publisher GerakBudaya apologises after furore over book cover 'insulting' Malaysian coat of arms

A general view of the GerakBudaya bookstore in Petaling Jaya. Chong said the image for the book cover was taken from a painting that was exhibited in Malaysia several years before. — Picture via Facebook
A general view of the GerakBudaya bookstore in Petaling Jaya. Chong said the image for the book cover was taken from a painting that was exhibited in Malaysia several years before. — Picture via Facebook

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — GerakBudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd has apologised after certain groups lodged police reports against a cover of a book it published, purportedly for “insulting” the Malaysian coat of arms.

Malaysiakini reported its director and founder Chong Ton Sin saying there was no intent of insult with the art used on the cover of Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope In New Malaysia published by its Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.

“We did not have any intention to insult anyone with the book cover, or any ill intention for using the image. Secondly, regardless of this being unintentional, I nevertheless would like to apologise to anyone who is offended by the cover.

“We were being insensitive, and we will take this as a lesson and will be more sensitive in the future,” Chong was quoted saying.

He reportedly said the image was taken from a painting that was exhibited in Malaysia several years before, and the usage for the book’s cover was arranged between the painter and the book editor.

“The book cover is a painting that was produced several years ago and displayed at an exhibition in Sarawak. And the painting was said to have been sold.

“I have had a look [at the cover] and had my concern then [before the book’s publication]. But I did not say anything, and left it to them to decide,” he reportedly said.

Chong reportedly said the police visited his office in Petaling Jaya yesterday afternoon to see him, but he was away at that time. He believes that the police will come again today, and that he is ready to fully cooperate.

The book’s editor, journalist Kean Wong, declined to comment when contacted by Malaysiakini, as he had been advised by his lawyer not to speak out on the matter.

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 yesterday that the police have been instructed by the ministry to investigate the matter since imitating the coat of arms in an offence under Section 3(1)(a) of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963.

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

The image on the book cover bears a resemblance to the national coat of arms, and features a naked child flanked by two tigers with humanoid faces stepping on a crocodile.

Several reports have been lodged in the past few days against the book urging for investigations to be made for allegedly insulting the coat of arms.


 

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