Home Ministry bans book with ‘insulting’ cover of modified Malaysian coat-of-arms

Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin issued the order to ban the book ‘Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance and Hope in New Malaysia’ tonight under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2020. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin issued the order to ban the book ‘Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance and Hope in New Malaysia’ tonight under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2020. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — The book Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance and Hope in New Malaysia has been banned by the Home Ministry.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin issued the order tonight under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2020.

A government gazette sighted by Malay Mail stated that the prohibition covers “the printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession” of the book.

It added that the book is likely to be prejudicial to public order, security, national interest, alarm public opinion and contrary to any law, and therefore is “absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia.”

The announcement follows complaints over the book’s “insulting” cover art of a nude child flanked by two human-faced tigers stepping on a crocodile deemed to resemble the national coat-of-arms.

Earlier this week, Hamzah had said that imitating the national coat-of-arms is an offence under Section 3(1)(a) of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.

Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance And Hope in New Malaysia is published by GerakBudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd’s Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.

Released earlier this year, the book features articles by political analysts and journalists, and includes reports on the 2018 general election and was edited by Kean Wong.

Following the uproar, the book publisher issued an apology, saying it did not intend to insult the national coat-of-arms with its cover art.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Department said the government views seriously the misuse and alteration of Malaysia’s coat of arms by any quarters, reiterating that it is an offence under Act 414 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman also confirmed the seizure of 313 books yesterday for alleged violation of several laws, including the Sedition Act, after a raid by the Classified Criminal Investigations Unit on a company in Petaling Jaya, Selangor that was distributing the books.

Federal Criminal Investigations Department director Commissioner Datuk Huzir Mohamed said the police had 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 also said no arrests have been made so far, adding that the police will be calling up the author, publisher and several other individuals linked to the publication of the book.

In the lead-up to today’s ban, various politicians and groups had urged the Home Ministry to take action against the book, including Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki, PAS information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali-linked Pemuda Negara, youth Parliament model Parlimen Belia and Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia.

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