Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Judging books by cover and a name ...

Last Friday evening at about 5.30 pm, 20 copies of Faces of Courage (Singapore, Media Masters, 2006) carried by me from Singapore to Malaysia for critical reviews by alternative media were seized by custom officers at an immigration checkpoint at Johor Baru. It was quite an experience for me to see how minds have been made paranoiac by Cold War propaganda over a long period of time.

When one of the officers asked me what was the book about, I told him that it deals with WWII history in Perak. He then filpped through one of the 20 books and said: " ya, ini betul certita nenek, bukan Playboy ..." We laughed aloud and I said that people at my age and of my real experience in real life do not need to read Playboy anymore.

As I put back the books into my bag, another officer nearby arrived and said: " tengok, apa buku ini." After flipping through it, he surprisingly admitted: "Encik, Inggeris saya tidak cukup baik. Tak faham". Suddenly, after glancing at the book cover, he raised his voice: "Ooh, nama ini sensitif! Chin Peng ... "

He then telephoned and asked three other officers to come in. I was then brought into a nearby office room. None asked very serious questions and all of them, to be very honest and frank, were quite polite, respectful and nice. They made themselves busy by flipping through the books again and again.

" Ada apa yang salah?" I asked.

"Tak tahulah, Chin Peng ini memang tak boleh masuk ...", one of them replied.

Then, I identified myself as a former MP and adviced them to check the book title against the Ban Books List published in Government's Gazette or Warta Kerajaan. I told them as far as I knew, Faces of Courage was not on the ban list in Warta Kerajaan.

One of them answered: "YB, sini belum lagi online". I then asked them to check against the hardcopy of the Warta Kerajaan and the reply was "tak tahu mana nak cari Warta Kerajaan".

So, I said since they were not sure whether the book was banned or not, they should just let me go with the books.

"Ooh, tak boleh, nanti kita hilang kerja ... Chin Peng orang ini sensitif ... "one responded softly and very apologetically.

So, they took the 20 copies of Faces of Courage and issued me a computer-printed receipt.

"YB, minta maaf, kita cuma jalankan tugas ..., " one of them said. I looked at them with pity.

The whole episode lasted for more than 30 minutes.

Kathigasu books seized by JB custom

Another 'Chin Peng book' held up

Media Masters


Blogger malekz said...

How come they confiscate something which has not been officially proscribed. I think the politicians, the civil service are going to the dogs. Maybe we are taking that slow road towards NIGERIASATION....

3:54 PM  

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