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'Promoting communism' - Home Ministry bans Hew's comic book
Published:  Oct 23, 2019 10:22 AM
Updated: 11:02 AM

The Home Ministry today announced that it is banning former DAP activist Hew Kuan Yau's comic book titled Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism.

In a statement today, the Home Ministry said the ban also applies to the Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin versions of the comic.

The ministry said the ban was being enforced under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Section 7(1) states that the home minister can prohibit any publication if he is satisfied that it contains material that is likely to be prejudicial to public order, morality, security, public interest, national interest or is likely to alarm public opinion.

"The publication's content, among others, tries to promote communism and socialism ideologies, disseminate erroneous and confusing facts about communism and contains elements that promote support and sympathy for the communist struggle," read the ministry's statement.

"It also creates doubts among the young generation about Malaysia's history and disputes the efforts and struggle of past national leaders for independence and development of the country.

"The content of the publication appears to not take into account the sensitivities of a multiracial and multireligious Malaysia and could break the harmony and unity of its people," it added.

Hew Kuan Yau

The ministry said anyone who prints, imports, publishes, circulates or sells the comic book following the ban could face a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM20,000 or both.

The comic was authored by Hew and published by the Asia Comic Cultural Museum of which he is the curator.

It largely paints a glowing picture of China and its "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) while putting the Western world order in a negative light.

Other controversial parts include describing Malays sympathising with ethnic Uyghurs in China - who are allegedly being put in "re-education camps" by Beijing - as "radicals".

Hew, who is also Malaysia-China Business Council chief executive officer, had handed the comic to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be gifted to China's president Xi Jinping during the former's visit to Beijing in April.

It has been in circulation for some time but came into the spotlight after the publisher distributed them to schools.

Subsequently, the Education Ministry instructed the comic not to be circulated in schools.

Sparked controversy

However, a group of DAP grassroots members, including five assemblypersons, was unhappy with Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s decision and questioned whether the minister was serving Pakatan Harapan or Umno.

Among those who signed the statement were DAP Youth secretary Eric Teh, Selangor DAP Youth deputy chief Koo Jeng Teng and Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe, who is also the Luyang assemblyperson.

The four Pahang DAP assemblypersons who signed the statement are Chiong Yoke Kong (Tanah Rata), Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Lee Chin Chen (Bilut) dan Leong Yu Man (Triang).

However, other DAP leaders such as Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh have also spoken out against the comic book.

Hew had quit the DAP in July 2016 after sparking controversy with his comment that the South China Sea belonged to China.

China has laid claim to a large part of the South China Sea, including previously undisputed waters such as the Luconia Shoals which is recognised under international law to be within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Malaysia off the coast of Sarawak.

While no longer officially a DAP member, Hew still maintains a close relationship with the party.

DAP chairperson Tan Kok Wai, who is Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC) chairperson, had in January appointed Hew as the MCBC CEO.

While in the opposition, he was known for his firebrand ceramah, often laced with foul words.

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