The book titled Islam & Pluralisme that I read last year was recently banned by the Ministry of Internal Security (KKDN). This includes ten other books; eight of them were published in English. The reason for this banning according to KKDN was due to the contents which have been found to be ‘deviating from the teaching of Islam’.

This book, being published by Middle-Eastern Graduates Centre (MEGC) was compiled by Al-Mustaqeem Mahmood Radhi and Khairul Anam Che Mentri. It talks about the subject of pluralism in religions and issues that concerns the Muslims regarding to this polemics. Essays published in this book were written by scholars such as Nurcholish Madjid, Hans Kung and Asghar Ali Engineer. What I can say is that, through out my reading, there was no such fact that deviates from the ‘true teaching of Islam’ as claimed by KKDN.

Justification by KKDN that the contents of the book ‘could stir confusions among Muslims’ to me, frankly, was not good enough. Such reasoning could only be spoken by a bunch of idiots whose intellectual’s positioned at his or her knees! If it was true that the book contains elements of confusion, so why not counter it back in an intellectual manners rather than abusing the authority by ‘killing’ others’ intellectual freedom?

Personally, I strongly disagree with this banning. It proof that the authority has now become a ‘molester’ of intellectual freedom. They (the authority) are now becoming so worry with the varieties of thinking that has been influencing the rakyat. Maybe they forgot or simply didn’t know that the first revelation to the Prophet (PBUH) 1400 years ago was the command to read (iqra’).

To me, KKDN’s arguement that the books which were being banned ‘could stir confusions among Muslims’ was baseless and immature. It seems that the rakyat especially Muslims through the eyes of the authority were stupid and dumb in dealing and engaging themselves with this polemics. The authority didn’t seems to honor and trust on the wisdom of the people.

It is much more appropriate for KKDN if it states that the banning of the books was being done due to its contents which have been found to be ‘raising people’s consciousness and awareness in searching and seeking for truth’. Or maybe the authority worries that the rakyat will start to read The Holy Qur’an and thus being a dedicated reader of it. And maybe after that an order will be issued by the authority to ban the publication of The Holy Qur’an since the contents of this holy book preaches mankind to fight cruelty and uphold justice.

Just ban the Qur’an if you (authority) worry that the rakyat will become smarter by reading it. Or maybe you guys can make some modification of the first revelation from Surah Al-‘Alaq by omitting God’s commandment to mankind: Read! (iqra’).

And behold! A new version of the Quran: The Islam Hadhari Quran. It might be suitable to be used in Malaysia since the process to stupefy the rakyat has been a long time agenda by the authority; before, now, and in the future!

Din Merican presented me two books on the South American revolutionary icon, Che Guevara recently. One of them that I have finished reading is Cuba: By Korda, an overview of Korda’s extraordinary camerawork, from his first work as a fashion photographer to “The Quixote of the Lamp Post”, a Cuban peasant sitting on a lamp post above a sea of people during a mass rally. It includes other somewhat quirky and less well-known photographs, such as Castro warily eyeing a tiger at the Bronx zoo and Guevara playing golf.

Another book on Guevara that Mr. Merican gave me is the Self Potrait: Che Guevara, edited by Victor Casaus. It is a remarkable photographic and literary memoir, drawing on the rich seam of diaries, letters, poems, journalism and short stories Che Guevara left behind him in Cuba. Unique among the many books about Guevara, this book has been compiled in close collaboration with Guevara’s family, using exclusive material from his family’s private archives. Revealed for the first time is Che Guevara’s personal world, unveiling his extraordinary candor, irony, dry humour and passion.

Mr. Merican, a veteran radical who recently have been trusted with the responsibility to lead and coordinate operations at Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur is a voracious reader. He remains youthful and rebellious although he is pushing to 69 this year. And today, he is a very updated blogger. How impressive!