Government ban of Dr. H.A.L. Fisher’s A History of Europe, Vol. 1, published in 1935

The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today (29.10.68) issued the following statement:

The Alliance government, in banning Dr. H.A.L. Fisher’s A History of Europe, Vol. 1, said parts of the book were ‘prejudicial to public order’ as they offend Islam.

The banning of this book must be opposed, as it is completely unjustifiable. If unchallenged, this action will set a dangerous precedent whereby the government can ban any book on the ground of ‘prejudicial to public order’, which can mean anything or nothing.

If there are passages which are offensive to Islam, the government can disallow the book to be used as an official history text book. But to state that Dr. Fisher’s book is a threat to public security and order is arrant nonsense!

Dr. Fisher’s book was not written one or two years ago, but 33 years ago in 1935. Moreover, it had been standard history text-book in Malaysia for at least 20 years.

If the book is ‘prejudicial to public order’, can the government give one example of this prejudice in the last 20 years, or since Merdeka, in 1957?

The Alliance has grown more and more frightened and intolerant of the world of ideas and the intellectual community.

A study of the present books banned by the Alliance government is proof of the reactionary policy of the government with regard to the control of books and publications.

In the English language, the following are some of the books which are banned, many of whom have become world classics:

‘Red Star Over China’ by Edgar Snow (written in 1937 reporting on the long march of the Chinese Communist Party), ‘The Other Side of the River’ by Edgar Snow and ‘The Wall has two Sides’ by Felix Greene (both accounts of modern China), Ping Chia Kuo’s ‘China – New Age and New Outlook’, ‘Lenin, a Biography’ by David Shubb, ‘Mao Tse Tung’ by Stuart Schram (all three Penguin publications), ‘Life of Lenin’ by Louis Fischer, who also wrote a biography of Gandhi, ‘The Meaning of Marxism’ by G. D. H. Cole, ‘Faith, Reason and Civilisation’ by Harold Laski, ‘War Crimes in Vietnam’ by Bertrand Russell and ‘Can Capitalism Last’ by Frederick Allen.

The Alliance government has banned the above books, but allowed in abundance in bookshops the cheap, trashy and yellow sex books, illustrated with lurid covers, to poison the minds of the young. It is clear that the Alliance government is trying to impose an intellectual censorship, to cut Malaysians off from the world community of ideas.

We urge the government to seriously review its policy with regard to the banning of books, and to liberalise its policy and refrain from trying to stunt the minds of Malaysians by a reactionary cultural policy, particularly in the matter of books.

Audited on 2021-03-05