The Malaysian government under the Pakatan Harapan has given de-facto freedom to all and sundry to criticise and to express their beliefs freely.
But some are taking this freedom to a different level and a comic book by a former member of the Democratic Action Party, which is a Pakatan Harapan coalition partner in power, is causing havoc in the party and among the ruling coalition.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad intervened, saying the comic book is promoting China’s ideology to Malaysian children.
The comic book is about the Belt and Road Initiative, a book that has triggered protests from the DAP itself and attacks from Pakatan coalition partners.
Comics have had their fair share of contribution in the downfall of Najib Razak, the ex-PM who is facing corruption and money laundering charges in Malaysian courts.
But last week, it was revealed a comic book titled Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism
and edited by the former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau had been distributed to secondary schools in Malaysia.
The book is produced by the Asia Comic Culture Museum, where Hew is a curator.
The comic parrots the Communist Party of China’s political views and attacks the Malays in Malaysia as extremists because they believe in the alleged mistreatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in China.
However, the Malaysian government apparently made a misstep with regards to the promotion of the book, with a picture that has emerged online showing Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad presenting the book to Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.
The Chinese President was on a visit to Malaysia and the picture shows Dr Mahathir and Xi smiling while the latter is browsing through the comic book.
After critics attacked Hew and Pakatan for the distribution of the book to schools, the Prime Minister’s office issued a statement in which Dr Mahathir attacks the comic and its contents.
The PMO said it had been made aware of the (comic book distribution) issue that has since gone viral on social media and denies that the PM had given his permission for his picture to be used in the book.
“In the said comic book, there is a picture of Mahathir Mohamad with notes stating that the comic book was a gift from him (Mahathir) to (President of China) Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Summit and Forum in Beijing in April this year.
“The Prime Minister’s Office would like to state that this book was not an official gift during the said meeting and it was brought without going through proper procedures and channels,” the statement read.
According to the statement, Dr Mahathir had never given permission for the comic book to be distributed in schools.
Leaders of DAP distanced themselves from former member Hew, 43 but some party members and lawmakers have spoken in his defence. -/TISG