Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Banning of a Book

Bookstore operator Berjaya Books on June 25 won leave for a judicial review against the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) for what it claims was ‘improper’ prosecution against an employee and illegal seizure of a controversial book before it was banned by the Home Ministry.

Berjaya owns Borders Bookstores, whose store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz was charged on June 19 in the Kuala Lumpur syariah court – she was alleged to have committed the offence of selling copies of a book by Canadian author Irshad Manji deemed to be against Islamic law (hukum syarak) and banned in Malaysia. JAWI enforcers had raided the bookstore at The Gardens Mall on May 23, 2012 and seized Manji’s book titled “Allah, Liberty and Love”.

This was so wrong because it was a blatant case of perversion in discharging a law that is repressive in the first place. For starters, Nik Raina was arrested on May 23 itself for having the banned book in her store; but the book was not banned until May 29. And JAWI is not some renegade department comprising of rabid Talibans – at least, not that I am aware of – but that it actually comes under the Prime Minister’s office. And yet no minister including Najib Razak has the moral courage to do the right thing and correct the injustice perpetrated by radical zealots who imperiously enforce an oppressive law in the name of religion.

Thumbs-up to Borders management for standing up for their employee! I don’t think many companies will do this – so I applaud them for doing the right thing.

I wonder where is Mohd Ali Baharom, the former soldier who led other old farts to do their butt exercise in front of Ambiga’s residence (My blog post dated May 16, 2012 titled “Veteran Soldiers Flaunt Their Behinds” refers). Hmmm, even Ibrahim Ali has been quiet of late. These ninnies should come out of the woodwork to uphold their religion. If Borders dared to question JAWI, was it not questioning Islam? And didn’t this mean that Islam was under attack? Well, there are sure to be those who will be convinced of this. If this is the case, then shouldn’t Perkasa or Perkida or any of the right-wing organizations mobilize their members to do butt excercises at every single Borders store in order to vent their fury at those who belittle Islam? Maybe this time, they shouldn’t be displaying their behinds. Maybe this time, they should be mooning instead.

The hearing date for the judicial review has been set for September 05, 2012.

Last evening, I decided to attend the Scope Toastmasters meeting. For some reason that I still do not understand, Scope suddenly came to mind on Tuesday and I made a beeline to go to Level 2 of Menara LYL in Petaling Jaya the following day. The last time I went to this same venue was August 18, 2010 and it was an uncool experience. But this time, I actually enjoyed the meeting very much. There were only ten of us – 4 members, 4 visiting Toastmasters and 2 non-Toastmasters – but by the time we got ready to disperse, there was this palpable satisfaction about the meeting.

This is another club in crisis. Dwindling membership, diminishing interest and declining relevance make it difficult for a club to continue to survive. Yet to the credit of the few members, they refused to surrender, to capitulate, to give up. And now with the heavy-duty support and encouragement from the incoming Area B5 Governor, Ng Sok Teng – officially, she’s not even in the job yet! – I know this club can rebound. I watched how this soft-spoken Toastmaster confidently restored members’ faith in themselves and the club. And I couldn’t help but notice that the members were galvanized to want to stay the course and start the formidable task of re-building. I too promised to help.

Anyway, even with a very modest attendance, it was a good meeting. And the two speeches and evaluations were skillfully delivered. An 8 out of a 10!

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