Malaysia: Books are not a crime! Solidarity with Toko Buku Rakyat in Malaysia

August 28, 2023
Home Affairs officers searching the Toko Buku Rakyat bookshop in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Peoples Dispatch

Enforcement officers from the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs raided the Toko Buku Rakyat (Peoples Bookstore) in Wisma Central, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 18. Four officers, wearing identifying vests, arrived unannounced to look for the book The Communist Manifesto. They seized a book about Marx and education, and also a book of poetry written by Benz Ali, the bookstore's owner.

The International Union of Left Publishers, a network of 40 publishing houses from Indonesia to Chile, condemned the raid "as authoritarian and anti-democratic, not only because it perpetuates a long-standing campaign against any Marxist discourse/thinking, but also because it violates the basic right of Malaysian people to read and speak freely.

"This act betrays the hope of Malaysian people that the new government under Anwar Ibrahim will be more democratic, fair, intellectually and culturally open than all the previous eras. How can a public intellectual like Ibrahim—who is known to like to quote Shakespeare, Raniri, and other names—let a seizure of books happen under his reign?

"We demand that the Malaysian government guarantee the basic right of Malaysian people to read freely, and the safety of booksellers and publishers across Malaysia."

[Abridged from Peoples Dispatch.]

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