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Darwin banned February 25, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in Human Rights, Islam in Southeast Asia, Note2Self.

This is getting very tiresome.

An apt corresponding title to this emo post should read, “Darwin, Islam Hadhari and Freaks of Nature”.

Two weeks ago, CIJ‘s Sonia called up to check if it was indeed Darwin‘s The Origin of Species on the gazetted list of banned book. Preferring to err on the side of caution and referring to the author’s name in the gazette – ‘F.susilohardo Basuki Hernowo‘ (line item 51) – I told her it was most probably some Indonesian Christian book.

Last night, a foreign correspondent telephoned to make the same inquiry. After the conversation, I thought it best to have this checked out with some friends.
This morning, well, one should by now anticipate the not-so-stunning news.

Yes, it’s Darwin. To be precise, it is apparently this particular edition:-

Darwin, C. R. 1860. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 2nd edition. Foreword by W.R. Thompson.

The Ministry of Infernal Security (MoIS), as usual got it wrong. They had put up the names of the 2 translators involved – F. Susilohardo and Basuki Hernowo – as the author(s).

(A sidenote here:- line item 53 of the gazette has the translator (‘Ira Puspito Rini‘) attributed as the author; it is in fact everyone’s favourite pop-Islam’s Karen Armstrong book.)

Getting straight to the point here.

The Minister for Internal Security is none other than Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also the chief ideologue and pendakwah of ‘Islam Hadhari’.

So ‘Liberal’ Islamists and supporters – if you want to throw your books at anyone, please aim it at your grand protector of ‘moderate Islam’. It ain’t PAS, as much as you may like to BS to your friends and funders.

As much as I hate to say this, the former PM Dr. Mahathir Mohammad would never have gone so low down the intellectual evolutionary scale. He is a medical doctor, a student of Science, and wanted Malaysians to be up to the par of developed countries. Now, this is what we get when we have a half-baked ulama as the PM and wacky PPE types.

And we should give a few tight slaps to all those cultish Hadharians and wanky analysts who try to tell us / spin that Umno is trying to out-Islam PAS. There is no contest here. Umno has absolute control over the public discourse on this matter.

Which is why the Education Blueprint that everyone’s apparently so happy about has this semi-treatise on Islam Hadhari. WTF. Our quality of our education system has fallen so deep within the cracks that we are only a notch above countries like Burma and Cambodia, with Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines light-years ahead of us. What has Islam Hadhari got to do with improving our education system and accesibility to books and knowledge?

2007-science-year-5-text-book.jpgWhich is also why primary school kids now learn that ‘God’ created everything. In ‘Science Textbook Year 5’, published by Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP), on page 2 under the title of ‘Lesson 1: The Unseen Life”, the FIRST sentence of the first paragraph reads,

‘All living things are created by God.’

Fine. Monotheists the world over may rejoice, but that’s not what we were taught in school during my time and it is scientifically wrong. My church then said otherwise and scared us with comics of Satan’s propaganda aka evolution, hellfire and brimstone, but at least we had contrarian views to make our own assessment.

We now have yet another evidence to contribute to the theory of evolution. A century and a half after the Origin of Species was published, clearly we have evolved (de-evolved?) into freaks of nature, becoming stupider and killing more of our kind by way of wars and global warming, hence hurtling towards extinction.

When the last episode of Survivor (of the fittest and the most intelligent) is played out, cats and kittens will win. QED.

So here’s the deal.

I shan’t migrate, unlike the rest of the lemmings.

Vote me in.

And I will pledge the following….

Pledge # 32:

“That all ousted Ministers and MPs shall study the Origins of Species and A Brief History of Time, after which, they will be examined by way of a series of essay questions and innovative laboratory experiments. Only those scoring 75% and above will get their pensions. Former Prime Minister, his deputy and the Education Minister have to score 100%.

“Those who fail to do so shall be sent to Summer School where they will study all previously banned books 2003-2006 and where they will also learn the art of book-binding. Those with PPE get to stir the glue-pot and 4th Floor shall be tasked to proof-read new Science textbooks.”

Note2Self: If Darwin’s banned and creationism is the new Science, why is the PM and 4th Floor allocating gazillions of our tax-payers money into the new money-making venture aka ‘Biotechnology’?


1. sam - February 25, 2007

Wah lao eh…..

2. elizabethwong - February 25, 2007

I’m very angry.

“Pledge #99: That North Korean and Iranian scientists shall be allowed to conduct scientific experiments on these chaps.”

3. kittykat46 - February 25, 2007

I’m a rather religious person who was also heavily trained in science. My religion is a moral compass to my daily life, technology & science are part and parcel of my profession. In most areas, I never find a clash, but on the subject of the origin of life, the contradiction is always there. I ceased trying to reconcile the two, a long time ago – its not reconcilable. My heart says God created life, my brain says life is essentially a very complex synthesis of chemical processes, I just leave it at that.

Darwin’s Origin of Species is a fundamental scientific text, it is highly irresponsible for the Home Affairs ministry to ban it.

Dollah and the rest of the gang keep talking about Biotechnology, do they realise Evolution is a basic bedrock of much of the science of Biology ?

Parents who are concerned on their children’s religious upbringing may want to make sure children are only exposed to Darwin’s text once they are more mature, but it is totally wrong for the Government to ban the book altogether.

4. midnitelily - February 25, 2007

sometimes i wonder if Pak Lah is contradicting himself on all levels… first calling out for our education system to create critical thinkers, then banning books like this, declaring bloggers as liars, etc…

i’d love to link this entry to our Bloggers against Book Banning Blog. cheers!

5. curious george - February 25, 2007

‘All living things are created by God.’

-By itself, this isn’t anti-evolutionary. I find it odd though that they restricted it to ‘living things’, instead of just ‘things’. Even Stephen Hawking (an agnostic) might merely shrug at this statement. (If he could indeed shrug!) He would say “maybe, maybe not”.

Anyhow, I now find it very odd when I come across human rights activists who don’t believe in a God or Ultimate Reality or Prime Mover or whatever you may call it. If you really stick to hard science, there’s no way to prove that any humans are deserving of any rights at all– human rights are just another dogmatic fiction created to allay our fears of not surviving. Science gives us no reason to believe that all humans are of equal worth– in fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. The best you can hope for then, philosophically, is a sort of nominal ethics with no ultimate meaning. This is partly why I lost faith in the ‘Universal’ Declaration of Human Rights– which is looking particularly dated thanks to what science has taught us about say, gender differences.

If Darwin’s banned and creationism is the new Science, why is the PM and 4th Floor allocating gazillions of our tax-payers money into the new money-making venture aka ‘Biotechnology’?

The Muslims accept micro-evolution — they’ve long been adept at breeding prized plants and animals — but they don’t accept the macro-evolutionary principle that there is nothing significant about human conscience, which is seen as nothing more than the accidental byproduct of random mutations. And I don’t think you really believe that either… that’s what makes you so attractive. 😉

I agree though, that it’s silly to ban Darwin’s book.

“Atheism: the belief that water originates in the well.” – T.J. Winter

6. Klaw - February 25, 2007

First of all, good work on pointing out the phrase ‘All living things are created by God.’ in a Science textbook.

And as for the issue at hand, the banning of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”.
Is the translation by the Indonesian authors banned (the book is listed as Melayu in http://www.mois.gov.my/opencms/export/KKDN/BhgPQ/senaraiharam2006.html)
Or all variations and versions of Darwin’s book banned?

I ask because the blacklist does not specifically mention a blanket ban on the book?
I can still see the book offered on the mph.com.my website (although all versions are currently unavailable).
This proves nothing of course, but are you able to provide more evidence to support your claims? Or do you have the inside information confirming that this is the case?

If it is true that all versions have been banned, then we should really raise a stink.

7. claire the cat - February 25, 2007

you can always argue for or against the theory of evolution or even specifically for or against darwin. (yes, some feminists think his theory is already dated and considered as the root of the whole gender divide but he was a product of his time.) you can also argue that science and religion,the telos and the logos can never be reconciled. you can always argue any day. but bottom line is: it’ still STUPID TO BAN A BOOK.

we can argue because we have read books, all sorts. hence, we are privileged. can’t we give others the same opportunities too?

if evolution is the bedrock of biotechnology. books for me, are the bedrocks of the life the mind.

8. JerryWho - February 25, 2007

“All Living Things Are Created By God”

So, it’s official now? That our Great Leader can converse with GOD? I mean… GOD must have told him that the Almighty who has created us all in HIS own image that this is the biblical truth and Malaysian students should take this without any trace of doubt?

That he has found the absolute reason of our existence? that Scientists all over the world can stick the Big Bang Theory up their own ass?


9. Rikey® - February 25, 2007

look at the list!
its amusing the time and energy AAB have to spent reading thru all those listed and come out with the ban! no wonder he has no time for the country when it was underwater!

10. elizabethwong - February 26, 2007

Hi MidniteLily, cheers for the link-up. I hope more people get more riled up.

Hi Klaw, I see no distinction whether it’s Malay/Indonesian version or in English. Banning it means this Government has scant regard for the Sciences. It’s so much worse that they banned a Malay version, which means the Government is trying to stop what is presumably 60% of our population from reading it.

HI Rikey, I have a true account from MoFA how AAB hardly read his briefs then. One day I shall write it down.

11. Rikey® - February 26, 2007

Dear PM,
Please watch this simple video explaination on Darwin’s theory…
if you are too sleepy to read his book.

12. charles - February 26, 2007

Muslim countries are home to 1.3 billion people and three-quarters of the world’s fuel reserves. But their combined gross national product (GNP) is less than half that of Germany, illiteracy levels are among the world’s highest, and science spending — at 0.2 per cent of GNP — is well below the global average.

Political leaders in Islamic nations very often fail to recognise the role of science, and this underlined the importance of developing greater cooperation between Islamic and Western scientists. Radical Islam is openly hostile to intellectual inquiry. Iran under the Ayatollahs banned music. In many Islamic states, dissident works invite not debate over public funding, but death sentences.

Only fools equate Darwin’s “The Origins of Species” to Rushdie’s banned “Satanic Verses”. The former is scientific theory while the latter is just fiction.

13. youzi - March 4, 2007

my goodness! what a shame!

14. Jeffrey - March 7, 2007

I know one or two born again Christians in Penang who’d no doubt be thrilled by the news.

15. justlearningman - March 9, 2007

I like your pledge 32, especially the study of all banned books, of which incidentally there are heaps and totally diverse. So it’s going to take a loooooong time before they are reintroduced to mainstream society.

Without trying to self promote, I just posted an article yesterday on Bannings and Burnings; A Brief Tour.

“The authors have joined an illustrious group of writers who have had their books banned for a whole variety of ludicrous reasons Bannings and Burnings gives a glimpse of human frailty.
……..“The 400-page book, Speak, Bird, Speak Again, was compiled by Sharif Kanaana, a professor of anthropology and folklore at the West Bank’sBirZeit University, and by Ibrahim Muhawi, a teacher of Arabic literature and the theory of translation. Dr Kanaana told the BBC news website that he worried that banning the book could be the start of a new trend. “I think that everyone is concerned that this could happen again,” he says. “It’s a question of principle: Is this going to start happening to other books?”

Thank you for letting me join the discusssion

16. cornflwr - April 11, 2007

On a slightly different subject – how do I get hold of a copy of the banned translation? His anyone picked up that the introduction by Thompson is anti-Darwin? Do you know of any other countries that ban Origin of Species? I’m collecting editions of Origin having sold our existing collection to the Natural History Museum in London. Also I am writing a chapter on The Origin as a Book so am interested in editions and translations of the book. I hope that you can help me. Getting it will mean that it will be accessible to readers at the Museum.

17. meursault - April 12, 2007

My goodness, I was wrong… I previously wrote that Malaysian schools avoid the subject of creation completely in Science classes, but according to this article, the curriculum now mentions God!

Thanks for pointing it out!

18. Tim - May 17, 2007

What’s really stupid is that they only banned Origins. You’ll be able to find books on Evolution in any library or bookstore – and most will give you a good idea of what Origins is about. While Origins provides a valuable insight into how Darwin first put forward his theory, it’s hardly cutting edge. They’re just shooting from the hip; and not even knowing what they are shooting at.

19. LTT - June 22, 2007

Are they going to ban “The Descent of Man”? or any other international scientific journals that support evolutionary biology – “Science” & “Nature” etc.?

20. NIK AMIR HAFIZHAN - September 2, 2007

i like science

21. dianX2 - September 27, 2007

We are descended from ape-like ancestors. The fossil record & our own DNA prove this. Period. These 2 lines of evidence are also proof that Darwin’s theory is correct. BECAUSE we are a social animal we have the responsibility to treat our fellow humans well.
The idea of a free society is a pretty new one, geologically speaking,
& not understood or trusted by most govenments (to go by the recent votes in the US congress). Actually it is quite pagan-judeo-christian at base: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU.
If you don’t want to be wiretapped, don’t ok wiretapping others.
You want the right to speak, read & write? Don’t deny it to others. Anyone who claims they have the religious right to deny others these rights is a lying son of Iblis. Anyone who thinks he can control the truth only fools himself – & destroys his society into the bargin.This goes for the USA as well as Iran.

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