Posted: 22 Feb 2012 03:40 AM PST
When a newspaper reporter called me yesterday to ask me for my opinion about a 'banned' children's book, I initially declined comment because I didn't know which book it was, since I don't read 'dead-tree' newspapers. But, she persisted. I said I couldn't speak for other bookshops, but I gave her my opinion on the arbitrariness of censorship in the country (depending on who's in charge, etc) and the censorship by harassment (a favourite ploy). I still didn't know which book she was talking about.
This morning, reading the online news on my iPad, I discovered that the book in question is Where Did I Come From by Peter Mayle, with illustrations by Arthur Robbins. I remember that book; I (and my wife) bought it for our son when he was five because we were too squeamish to approach the subject. That was 27 years ago! I believe he still has the book somewhere. He is now 32, happily married with two lovely daughters. As far as I know he has not become a serial killer (or rapist) or any other type of criminal but, whether, he'd want to pass the book on to his girls is up to him and his spouse. (As grandparents, me and my wife will stay out of the decision.)
What is interesting is that, after least twenty seven years, after thousands of copies have been sold, after an entire generation of Malaysians have died, after a whole new one has come been born, it takes only one person to complain, for the Ministry to jump.
Boy, talk about spectacular! This deserves kompang, bunga mawar and fireworks at the Lake Gardens, and a special award for the Minister. There must be a world record in there somewhere. This is the stuff of legends. Minister finds 'dirty' book in public after 27 years and bans it. Thre is a great message in there too: if you deal in smut, it will take the government 27 years to get you, but when they do you will be dead -- literally. Those who want to look at those naked pictures that got the complainant's knickers in a knot, try Google. Warning: you will be with confronted full frontal nudity and male/female genetalia as you have never seen before!
Another prominent book to be banned in recent times is Sebongkah Batu Di Kuala Berang by Faisal Tehrani. According to rumours the ban is from JAKIM, apparently, for daring to suggest that Islam in Malaysia was brought by Shia' clerics (but this is not confirmed)
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