THE Coalition for Freedom of Expression (CFOE) urges the Home Minister to promptly lift the ban on the book Breaking the Silence: Voices of moderation – Islam in a constitutional democracy published by G25.

CFOE is a group of civil society organisations advocating for freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia consisting of Aliran, Centre for Independent Journalism, Knowledge and Rights with Young People Through Safer Spaces and Suara Rakyat Malaysia.

The banning of the book carried out by then-home minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi in June 2017 was arguably unconstitutional.

Any restriction on the freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 must be for a legitimate reason as set out in the Federal Constitution and must be necessary, proportionate and reasonable.

The banning of this book does not fall into any of the categories that would constitute a legitimate restriction. It is inconceivable that a book of articles by distinguished former civil servants, which explores the concept of moderation in Islam in the context of Malaysia as a constitutional democracy, can be a threat to public order.

Lifting the ban on this book should be straightforward and carried out promptly. The Pakatan Harapan government should not prolong or be complicit in the arbitrary silencing of critical and reasoned voices which was carried out by the previous government.

The CFOE calls for the immediate lifting of the book ban and also for the Printing Presses and Publications Act, under which this ban was made, to be abolished as soon as possible, as promised by Pakatan Harapan in its election manifesto. We also call for a moratorium on the banning of any books under this Act in the meantime.

The Coalition for Freedom of Expression