Battling censorship and ignorance May 18, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in History, Malaysia, Politics, Race Relations.
This is like some bad daytime soapie.
One never knows what the twists and turns in the narrative are, and who’s doing the twisting and turning.
Below is an excerpt from a piece from Malaysiakini.com (Chinese version); time stamp:- 17 May 2007, 3.10 pm; byline: Ng Ling Fong.
a. MPH said they don’t want to sell it, as KDN has advised them not to, even though the book isn’t banned.
(updated) In the updated English version of the news (time stamp: 18 May 2007, 6.15pm), there appears to be a change of instructions. Yeah!
A MPH spokesperson, who also declined to be named, told malaysiakini yesterday that it made the decision after officers from the ministry confiscated copies of the book on Tuesday.
However checks today revealed that MPH had taken fresh orders for the book from the publisher.
b. Kinokuniya said, because the book is controversial, they will practice self-censorship and not sell it.
c. Popular said, they will sell it – and this is exactly why I hold a Popular Bookstore card for the past five years.
Admittedly, I met the distributor at 5 pm to do a stock-take and to grill him on a number of issues – hence my post earlier this morning. This development has given the distributor more grey hairs, ditto for the publisher.
But upon reading the article in Malaysiakini, a couple of more questions popped up.
1. Why aren’t the bookshops selling the book even though it’s not banned?
2. How many other ‘controversial’ books have they thrown out from their order list in the past, and how many more will suffer the same fate in the future?
These are questions for customers who frequent these bookshops to forward to the management. This is when a bit of consumer activism kicks in.
Ask them WHY they aren’t selling the book.
Tell them WHY they should be selling the book.
For crying out loud – they are selling ‘The Secret’ – and not “May 13”??
There is very little that we can do, if bookshops do not live up to their social responsibility as frontliners in the war against ignorance and pem-bodoh-fication (a word first introduced to me by Jason Tan, editor of Off The Edge) of the minds. There are only a few independent bookstores here which take this responsibility seriously – one of them being Silverfishbooks.
So in the end, it will be Singaporeans who will be able to buy and read this book (and many others), perhaps even open their minds and eyes a little wider.
Across the border, we remain none the wiser.