Ban on Kampung Medan book stays

(Bernama) – The High Court today rejected an author’s application to quash the government’s decision to ban his book on the Kampung Medan riots, almost nine years ago.

In his decision, Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof ruled that the then-deputy home minister’s decision to ban the Tamil language book, titled March 8, was valid as he (deputy minister) considered that the circulation of the book would be prejudicial to internal security and public order.

He said the deputy minister, in this case, had absolute discretion to exercise the powers of the minister in prohibiting the publication and the printing of the book, after considering views from the police and the ministry that the book would be prejudicial to internal security, and “poison the minds of the readers, especially the Indian community”.

In dismissing the judicial review application, he, however did not order for costs because the case involved public interest.

Mohamed Ariff is the same judge who overturned the banning of the book Muslim Women and the Challenge of Extremism by the Home Ministry on Jan 25.

He said each case had different facts of the case, and to arrive at a decision, he had to consider all factors.

Mohamed Ariff said there was a need for balancing in exercising the judicial function, and that he also took into account cultural and sensitivity factors before making the decision.

On Feb 23, 2007, engineer-turned-lawyer K. Arumugam filed an application for a judicial review seeking to declare null and void the order made by the government on Nov 21, 2006, prohibiting the publication, sale and distribution of the book on grounds that it was a threat to national security.

In his application, Arumugam, 51, named the internal security minister and the deputy internal security minister at that time, as well as the Malaysian government, as respondents.

Earlier, Arumugam’s counsel, Edward Saw, argued that the decision to ban the book was irrational and unreasonable to the right of freedom of expression.

He also said the deputy minister failed to adduce evidence that the circulation of the book could be prejucial to internal security as the book was in circulation with 3,000 copies before it was banned on Nov 21, 2006.

Senior Federal Counsel Datin Azizah Nawawi had submitted that the deputy minister at that time (Datuk Fu Ah Kiaw) had considered all views and information before prohibiting the book’s circulation.

Arumugam, when met by reporters, said he respected the court’s decision and would consult his lawyer on whether to appeal or otherwise.