Malaysia bans Tamil book Peichi; back home, support for author Ma Navin

The Home Ministry of Malaysia said anyone who violates the order can be jailed for not more than three years or fined not more than RM 20,000 or both.

Peichi author Ma Navin. Photo: Facebook/Navin

Malaysia has banned author Ma Navin’s Tamil book Peichi stating that it contains ‘pornographic’ and ‘immoral material’ that goes against the cultural values and norms of Malaysian society.

The Home Ministry (KDN) said anyone who violates the order can be jailed for not more than three years or fined not more than RM 20,000 or both.

The ministry gazetted a prohibition order on two publications, titled Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective and Peichi under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, effective Nov 27 and Dec 15 respectively, Malaysia’s New Strait Times reported.

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KDN chief secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz said that it is absolutely prohibited to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell, circulate, distribute or own these publications in the country.

“These publications have been banned because they contain content that might be detrimental to public order, morals and public interest,” he said in a statement, according to the report.

Back home, Tamil writers have expressed solidarity with Navin. Jeeva of Karikalan of Yaavarum Publications said this was a targeted attack against new age writer Navin.

“Malaysia is a democratic land and I feel that ‘fake’ Tamil activists in Malaysian circles create a picture that this is a penetration of the government into literary freedom. However, this is not true because the Malaysian government has been spending money for the development of Tamil language and literature. So, this is a targeted attack against new age writer Navin due to the grudge held by a group of literary activists,” he was quoted as saying by The News Minute.

The ban came after another Tamil author allegedly complained against the book.

The Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, Aadhavan Dheetchanya, was quoted as saying by the website, “Someone from Malaysia said that they gave a complaint against the book. However, can a democratic government ban a book? We need to discuss this. All countries have access to pornographic video content that can be fed into people’s minds but a book will not affect them unless they read it. So, I think the ban will only increase the readership of the novel.”

According to the website, the book talks about the Tamil people living in the villages of Malaysia. It was published last year by Malaysia’s Vallinum, and Yaavarum of India.

Writer and Yuva Puraskar awardee Lakshmi Saravanakumar, said, “Writing a novel comes under freedom of expression and it is the right of everyone to write a book or a novel. Anyone can criticise or review it but banning a book seems like a restriction. Hence I express my solidarity to writer Ma Navin.”

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