Three pleasant surprises May 18, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Uncategorized.
I was caught by three surprises this afternoon, which made up for a damper of a morning.
Dr. Kua, author of “May 13”, informed me of a joint press conference held by a number of NGOs and writers in support of the book and a Truth Commission into the tragedy of May 13.
While I’ve not seen any news about this, or read their press statements, I was informed by Khai Loon who was present, the groups at the press conference include Institute Kajian Dasar, Youth4Change, Civil Rights Committee and Centre for Independent Journalism. Writers present were Fathi Aris Omar and Lee Ban Chen.
Then I read a letter to Malaysiakini, published this afternoon, by Dr. Toh Kin Woon, Penang state-exco member who says:-
…all those who want our society to progress must stand up and call on the government to immediately stop this act of confiscation and have the book released for sale. (Source)
Then I received my third surprise late afternoon.
18 May 2007
PROPOSED BANNING OF MAY 13 BOOK VIOLATES FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The proposed banning of May 13 Declassified Documents on the Racial Riots of 1969 violates the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution. In an age where information flows freely, and constitutional freedoms must be honoured rather than breached, laws and regulations which purport to grant power to the state to proscribe publications arbitrarily must only be used under the most exceptional circumstances.
This book may indeed be controversial but if the government does not agree with the issues raised, it should refute them in an open and transparent manner. As with issues pertaining to religion, the government cannot continually adopt strong arm measures in an attempt to silence public discourse. This is quite apart from the fact that the banning of any book immediately enhances its value and whets the appetite of readers. More significantly, banning this book will reinforce its thesis that the May 13 riots were indeed caused by a coup plotted by certain leaders to oust Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Personally, I view the book as the start of a process to demystify the May 13 race riots which after nearly four decades continue to be talked about in hushed tones because no conclusive answers have been forthcoming from the authorities. There are bound to be divergent views about this tragic episode of our history and I call on all Malaysians to have an open mind in this discourse while respecting the sensitivities of all the communities.
Thank you everyone! 🙂