The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) condemns the actions of the Home Ministry, which raided the “Toko Buku Rakyat” bookstore owned by independent writer Benz Ali on 18th August 2023 and seized two books, including one book with the title “Marx Sang Pendidik Revolusioner” (Marx the Revolutionary Educator) which commented on the thought of Karl Marx.
The action of the Home Ministry is an act of intimidation against independent writers, publishers, and bookstore operators in the country. It is a regressive step and shows that the mindset of some authorities in our country is still stuck in the long-gone Cold War Era.
If the book title “Marx Sang Pendidik Revolusioner” was seized because Marx’s name was written on the title, then it just shows the superficiality and shallowness of authority’s minds when dealing with knowledge that is supposed to stimulate thoughts and build political literacy among the people. It is almost impossible for anyone who wants to learn about sociology and understand our society to never read about the thoughts of Karl Marx, whether they agree or disagree with his views. Stopping the distribution of books about Marx, whether the books promote his revolutionary ideas or criticise his thoughts, is an action that would only be taken by an authoritarian and iron-fisted government. Reading and understanding Marx can help build a healthy civil society.
It is absurd for a government that promotes the idea of “Malaysia Madani” (Civil Malaysia) to take actions that restrict the development of civil society in a more rational and politically literate direction by confiscating books.
The Home Ministry should not turn into the “Ministry of Truth” like in George Orwell’s “1984” by using the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to restrict intellectual freedom.
PSM would like to express our solidarity with the independent bookstore “Toko Buku Rakyat”, and urge the government to stop all intimidation against independent bookstores immediately.
Choo Chon Kai
Parti Sosialis Malaysia