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Battling censorship and ignorance May 18, 2007

Posted 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.

Summary –

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.











“报纸已经说了,我们觉得不是很好,所以决定不卖。是我们本身实施自我审查(impose self-censorship)。”










1. wong piang yow - May 18, 2007

Try selling online and through word of mouth. A bit more tedious but it can be done. Let me know if you need help alone this line

Dear Piang Yow, Presently it is primarily by word-of-mouth and a lot of publicity in the Chinese press! Thank you for your offer – certainly we will take it up. If you have any orders your end, please email to: suaram@suaram.net

2. Alvin Lim - May 18, 2007

What a load of crap! Govt intimidation wins again! Are Malaysians so lily livered that they are going to take this lying down??? Hey guys, vote with your feet & wallets! Boycott Kinokuniya and MPH until they agree to sell this book. Buy your books from Popular. If truth doesn’t talk loud enough, then money always will! And while you are at it, boycott Maybank as well!
BTW EW, I am also none the wiser after reading above cos no read Chinese lah!

Dear Alvin, Perhaps it’s more productive to suggest to MPH and Kino to stock the books? I’m kinda tied up being an overnight bookseller to translate it, so here’s hoping Malaysiakini will have an English version of that news piece.

3. Michael Sun - May 18, 2007

Aiya! What’s so difficult. Sell online.
These “monkeys” runnning the government are just monkeying around. History belongs to the victor and UMNO has been the “tuan besar” since May 13.
Can we buy in UK? There are lots of enquiries.

EW: Kinibooks will ship to UK.

4. kittykat46 - May 18, 2007

Hi Elizabeth,
MPH is owned by the Al-Bukhary guy, their management would definitely comply with official direction , even though the book isn’t banned.
Kinokuniya – I heard some KDN goons have been harassing them with daily inspections. Probably didn’t want the trouble.
Popular has a large Chinese customer base, probably decided to keep their customers happy, for the moment.

5. Tim - May 18, 2007

I called MPH Malacca (Makhota Parade) today and asked if they had the book. They said it was out of stock, but I could leave my name/contact and they would call me when it was available. The guy on the phone said that the list was pretty long!

Maybe it’s just MPH KL?

6. bibliobibuli - May 18, 2007

times bsc said they are waiting for copies

EW: It’s coming, it’s coming! (Clutches chest…)

7. greeneyesjelly - May 18, 2007

I called mph books reservation/special orders yesterday @ 0329383818 and the operator told me that the book’s sold out nationwide. They too asked me to leave name and contact and promised to reserve a copy for me.

EW: I am getting as confused as the next person. Will give this Mkini fella a call. My distributor is having a migraine and I chest pains. But terima kasih for the update! 🙂 🙂

8. Alvin Lim - May 18, 2007

EW, you said
Dear Alvin, Perhaps it’s more productive to suggest to MPH and Kino to stock the books?
Well, I have just emailed both the stores and given them a piece of my mind. For the rest of you here’s the email adds of Kino and MPH.
Maintain the rage guys. Go up to the window and shout, I’m sick & tired of all this rubbish and I can’t take it anymore! Tell all your friends to email Kino and MPH and threaten to boycott them. Hey I am doing this from Sydney so you guys in KL and the rest of Malaysia should be able to do a better job, man! Go for it guys!

EW: Aiyo Alvin. You are fierce! I shall write my alternate and gentler version of a “please stock up for your gentle readers!!” But your solidarity is much appreciated!

9. kapkaplui - May 18, 2007

Alvin, & all those who booked their book with Kino or MPH,
In Msia, we are pretty good at being ignorant, no matter how many email u send, they can just ignore you. If we wanna protest, do it publicly. These ppl can always tell you they will contact you when the books are ere. LIke they will! This are just tricks to lie to the public they have no guts to sell them. EW already have confirmation MPH n Kino aint gonna sell. Period.
These guyz are just businessman. They do worry about getting in trouble with KDN and his gang. I am angry with MPH when the staff “lied” yesterday. But dia pun makan gaji saja. Takan lar I nak bising bising at his face.
If Popular gonna sell, it’s much better. I think there are more Popular bookstore than MPH rite.

EW: Dear Kapkaplui – Pls see updated entry. And yes, Popular has more branches.

10. ActiveDragon - May 18, 2007

Went to MPH Penang today but was told that they are not going to sell it here. Probably only in KL. Anyway already ordered online a few days ago. Thought of getting it from the bookstore to give it away to friends.

11. Alvin Lim - May 18, 2007


It’s ok, I ordered thru Kinibooks not Kinokuniya so I will get my book. Kino do have a shop here in Sydney and there is no way I am going to use them again.

12. Top Posts « WordPress.com - May 19, 2007

[…] Battling censorship and ignorance This is like some bad daytime soapie. One never knows what the twists and turns in the narrative are, and who’s […] […]

13. gie - May 19, 2007

We heard that CzipLee (Bangsar and Kajang) were getting them in today – they couldn’t get hold on the first print. Then they called to say that the delivery couldn’t be made today but Monday morning. Bugger!

…but WE STILL BOOKED 10 copies! =)

14. Philip Lau - May 21, 2007


Your distributor here in Singapore , Horizon Books Pte Ltd Tel 65-6483-5955 is selling at S$25.00 equivalent to RM 56. Your price is only RM 20 so buy as many as possible my advice to all Malaysians. I shall buy at JB instead my 20 copies for FREE distribution to my friends if they allow me to do so. I have to make inquiries with the Singapore Customs. I have the gut feelings May 13 will be banned, as this is a political game. The politicians in your country are much alove alive and kicking. The real truth is out now as suspected by here over the causeway.

Never mind, you are prepared to the worse publish in the internet as your sales will be better and international. I am sure you have your plans all laid out now with the pinter, author and of course the publisher.

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