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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book ban pointless with the internet, says Art Harun


SUBANG: The banning of books by the government has no effect and is bad law, says prominent lawyer-activist Azhar Harun.
Azhar, better known as Art, said that while authorities could ban a book today, readers could just go to the internet and get the book the next day.
In explaining matters from a legal standpoint, Art said that any law which is unenforceable, or impossible to be enforced, is bad law.
He cited a move during the tenure of former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who had wanted to pass a law to compel drivers to place both hands on the steering wheel, a law he said would have been impossible to enforce, as those who drove manual vehicles would need to use their hand to shift gears.
“With the advent of technology, with all the Netflixes, peer to peer sharing, social media, is the banning of books effective?
“There is this website called pdf.net. There are millions of books (available) for free. I use it.
“So if you ban a book today, tomorrow they will go to the internet to get the book,” he said at a forum titled “Books: A Source of Wisdom or a Threat to Harmony”, held at the Summit USJ here last night.
Art was responding to a question on whether the government had the right to ban books, and under what circumstances could they ban books.
Apart from Art, other speakers at the forum were Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, national laureate A Samad Said, and writer Al-Mustaqeem M Radhi.
Selangor state assembly speaker and Subang Jaya assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh facilitated the forum.
On whether there were any arguments in favour of book bans, Art stressed the need for a substantive offence behind the book, or a substantive offence that could be taken out of the book before the author is charged.
He gave an example of controversial Islamic preacher Zamihan Mat Zin writing a book and expounding a view on Islam “that is so fundamental, that all men must marry four, adulterers must be stoned”.
“It sounds extreme and fundamentalist, but he is not inciting hatred. He is not inciting Muslims to bear arms and kill non-Muslims. It is his view. It should be allowed. It is a matter of choice.
“But, if there is a book that incites Muslims to go to war, to kill non-Muslims, then there is a substantive offence. There is incitement. Then the author can be charged with that. By that virtue, the book can be banned,” he said.
Art further emphasised this point later, stating that there must be a balance between a real and perceived threat to public order, and that one could not simply put everything in one basket and say everything is a threat. -FMT

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