Home Ministry bans controversial comic book after complaints

Alfian Z.M. Tahir

Former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau is the man behind the controversial comic book Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism, which has been banned by the Home Ministry. – Facebook pic, October 23, 2019.

THE Home Ministry has banned the controversial comic book on China’s Belt and Road initiative authored by former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau after complaints it promoted communism.

In a statement, the ministry said the ban was immediate for three versions of: Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism, published in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese.

The ministry said the order was issued under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301) and the order stipulated the printing, importation, production, reproduction, publication, sale, issuance, circulation, distribution or possession of the publications was absolutely prohibited in Malaysia.

“These publications are banned because their contents may be detrimental to public order, corrupt the minds of the public, jeopardising morality, public interest and national security,” the ministry said in the statement.

Hew was called in by police for questioning today. Detractors, particularly from the opposition, have also accused him of racism for calling those who sympathised with the plight of the Uighur minority in China “extremists”.

The ministry said the comic promoted communism and socialism, as well as disseminating false information to make people more sympathetic towards communism.

“It can create confusion, especially among young people. The publication does not consider the sensitivity of Malaysia’s multicultural and multireligious ethnicity, so it can disrupt national harmony,” the ministry added.

Any person who prints, imports, produces, reproduces, publishes, sells, circulates, offers to sell, distributes or has a banned publication is committing an offence under Section 8 (2) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, which carries a prison sentence of to three years, a fine of up to RM20,000, or both upon conviction.

The Education Ministry had last week said it did not give approval for the distribution of the comic book in secondary and vernacular schools after reports that 2,500 copies in Bahasa Malaysia were distributed to school libraries as reference material.

Among those critical of Hew was Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, who accused Hew of racism in belittling “extremists” supporting the Uighurs in China.

The Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC) chairman denied claims that the comic book was spreading propaganda but insisted it would help provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of the Belt and Road initiative.

Hew quit DAP in July 2016 after his Facebook post, claiming that South China Sea “belongs to Beijing” courted controversy.

The comic book was featured in a photograph posted by Hew on his Facebook page showing Chinese President Xi Jinping reading it during a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in April in conjunction with the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Last week, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Mahathir was not involved in publishing the book and did not know its contents.

It said Mahathir had not given any consent for his picture to be used for any purpose. – October 23, 2019.

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