The International Union of Left Publishers issued a statement of condemnation after a left book store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was raided by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs who seized several books related to Marxism, and one written by the owner of the establishment. The International Union of Left Publishers is a network of 40 publishing houses from Indonesia to Chile.
On Friday, August 18th, 2023, a raid happened at Toko Buku Rakyat (People Bookstore) in Wisma Central, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Four enforcement officers from Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs wearing vests stating “Penguatkuasa KDN”, came unannounced to look for the book “The Communist Manifesto” and then seized a book about Marx and education, and also a book of poetry written by Benz Ali, owner of the bookstore.
The International Union of Left Publishers condemns this raid as authoritarian and anti-democratic, not only because it perpetuates a long-standing campaign against any Marxist discourse/thinking, but also because it violates the basic right of Malaysian people to read and speak freely.
This act betrays the hope of Malaysian people that the new government under Anwar Ibrahim will be more democratic, fair, intellectually and culturally open than all the previous eras. How can a public intellectual like Ibrahim—who is known to like to quote Shakespeare, Raniri, and other names—let a seizure of books happen under his reign?
We demand that the Malaysian government guarantee the basic right of Malaysian people to read freely, and the safety of booksellers and publishers across Malaysia.