Maszlee cites ‘rule of law’ for withdrawing comic book

(FMT) – Education Minister Maszlee Malik today defended the decision to halt distribution to schools of a controversial comic book by a “former” DAP member, saying the ministry was adhering to the “rule of law”.

Maszlee said that any political or propaganda material must go through the proper channels first before being distributed to schools and, in this case, it was the home ministry.

“We acted based on the rule of law. We need to refer it to the home ministry as printing has its own act,” he said, alluding to the Printing, Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Maszlee was speaking to reporters after an event at Sekolah Menengah Tanjung Karang here.

He was asked to comment on the attack by a DAP grassroots group, which included five state assemblymen, who questioned if he was a minister appointed by Pakatan Harapan or by Umno.

This came after Maszlee had ordered for the comic book, “Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism” — produced by former DAP firebrand “Superman” Hew Kuan Yau — to be withdrawn from schools.

Former prime minister Najib Razak had also described the comic book as DAP propaganda and claimed it tarnished his image and that of his former administration.

Critics of the comic book, including PPBM Youth, accuse it of being pro-communist and racist.

Hew, however, has said it revolves around Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and promotes better ties with China.

Meanwhile, Islamic NGO, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim), has backed Maszlee’s decision to withdraw the comic book from schools, saying that based on its contents, it stereotypes those who are defending the rights of the Uighur Muslim minority in China as radicals.

Its secretary-general, Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, also said that, based on the contents, it was clear that the comic book is not out to foster a better understanding between Malaysia and Beijing.

“It spreads confusion and propagates beliefs that touch on the sensitivities of the community here.”

Abim also backed PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who had hit out at Hew for allegedly calling Malays who sympathise with the plight of China’s Uyghurs as “radicals”.

“If this is not racism, I don’t know what is,” the youth and sports minister said.