PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here has allowed an appeal by novelist Faisal Tehrani and set aside the Home Ministry’s ban on his four books.
A judgment read by Justice Zaleha Yusof said the books – Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang (published by PTS Litera Utama Sdn Bhd); Karbala (published by Aberdeen Books World), Tiga Kali Seminggu and Ingin Jadi Nasrallah (both published by Al-Ameen Serve Holdings Sdn Bhd) – were not a threat to national security and public order.
“We had ourselves read the books. Briefly, we must say, we could not understand how the four books could create public disorder or be a threat to security.
“For example, in Tiga Kali Seminggu, the short story Rindu Ini Luar Biasa is about two people falling in love during their fight to elevate the use of Bahasa Malaysia and how position, status and power can change people’s viewpoint.
“The short story of Bulan Penuh di Saigon is about a woman who was determined to look for her biological mother upon the discovery that she was actually an adopted child after her adoptive mother passed away.
“The short story of Cinta Medeni to us is purely a love story,” she said.
The three-man panel was led by Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat. Justice Ahmadi Asnawi also sat on the panel.
The court was of the opinion that the prohibition of the books was “a very drastic act, irrational, unreasonable, disproportionate and tainted with procedural impropriety” and a restriction on the appellant’s constitutional and fundamental rights to freedom of speech.
“We find the order (the ban) is not made in accordance with Subsection 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301) and therefore illegal,” she said.
In May 2015, the Home Ministry banned the books as they were said to contain Syiah elements.
In June the same year, Faisal, whose real name is Mohd Faizal Musa, 44, named the Home Minister as the sole respondent in his application for judicial review proceedings to challenge the ban.
In August 2016, the High Court dismissed the judicial review. Faisal subsequently appealed against the dismissal.
Faisal was represented by lawyers Abdullah Abdul Rahman and Derrick Moh while senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan represented the Home Minister.