Brickfields OCPD's 1, 2, 3...tangkap! Or the 64 people who were told to turn in Ipoh only to be told that their bail was not going to be extended. Or sending a group of 40 police officers to detain 16 candle light and peaceful demonstrators. Or storming into the Perak state assembly to drag out the state assembly speaker....hilarious!
The police did sound humorous to me. Until this episode....Now I am not too sure... another authority has beaten it to the prize.
FROM KUALA LUMPUR On 2nd June 2009, the Publications & Quranic Texts Division of the Home Ministry raided my T-shirt stall in Central Market for the 3rd time and seized 83 shirts they claim are "obscene and contain Communist elements". You can see the images they confiscated by following this link...
That the Ministry is clamping down on items they allege glorify (Chinese) Communism at the very moment our beloved leader is grinning for photocalls with the flatcaps in Beijing is flash-bulb irony so blinding it requires uncommon talent to miss it. The Ministry, of course, missed it by a mile.
Not many people know this but lightweight, low level officers of the Publications & Quranic Texts Division are entrusted with absolute power to make on-the-spot judgments about what is obscene, subversive, subliminally seditious, distasteful, inartistic, drug drenched, Communist, radical, Swedish. Er, ok, maybe not Swedish, but apart from that they can pass instant judgment on just about everything else under the sun. Worse, having judged, they are empowered to confiscate anything that offends their fragile sensibilities. They can say your cupboard is a badly disguised coffin, your toothbrush is a sex aid or that your plastic KL Tower statuette so thoughtfully bought for you by Aunt Mimi is plainly a male sexual organ. Having so proclaimed, they have the unchallengeable right to then cart everything away. In a blink of an eye one is judged, juried and executed by the same single entity. Issues of abuse of power loom large. You only have to click on the link above to realise that the Ministry tends towards irrational excitability in their interpretations, betraying the goververnment's impatience with the mildest satire and discomfort with the freedom of expression that is our guaranteed constitutional right.
What this means in practice is that the Ministry has a bunch of people running around seizing things under the flimsiest pretext. They took half my stock - 3 times - but they could just as easily have taken all. If you run a business selling things, they have an unquestionable right in law to do so and there is not much you can do about it. When a government deliberately denies a citizen his fundamental right to make a living, it had better have weighty, considered reasons for doing so. Here, we allow low level staffers to snatch away our rice bowls on a whim, without warning. Accountability, reason and judiciousness be damned.
By logical progression, since the images are now presumably "illegal", are we to see enforcement squads jumping out from behind lampposts to rip T shirts bearing similar images off the backs of recalcitrant wearers? Will we have T shirt evaluators sitting alongside the H1N1 scanners at airports and entry points around the country? Will tourists be warned to leave their Viagra at home?
You may think that the images have no artistic of comedic merit. You may think them stupid and juvenile. But to say that they glorify Communism, are obscene and illegal, is really stretching it. And, surely, confiscation on those grounds is wholly unwarranted. Are we, as Malaysians, so sanguine that we accept the government has a right to intrude in such a way into our lives, compromise our professional integrity and devastate our businesses on nothing more than one person's inadequate understanding of the word "obscene"??
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You can read Malay Mail's article about the raid here...
You can read the Malay Mail's editorial about the issue here..
You can read the Star's article about the raid here...