Malaysia

No ban on posters of deities with image of US music legend, says ministry

Penang Hindu Association deputy president P. Murugiah with the offensive posters. – The Malaysian Insider pic, June 5, 2014.Penang Hindu Association deputy president P. Murugiah with the offensive posters. – The Malaysian Insider pic, June 5, 2014.Contrary to online media reports, the Home Ministry has not banned American music legend Jimi Hendrix's 1967 album “Axis: Bold as Love” which comes with a cover art featuring the artist’s face superimposed on the body of a Hindu deity.

A spokesperson from the ministry's publication control and Quranic text division said no such ban has been imposed.

"Why should the album or CD be banned? The music is not heavy metal or black metal.

"Only the artwork for the album cover is the issue here," she told The Malaysian Insider today.

An online news portal had reported that the album and the CD cover had been banned by the ministry.

The spokesperson said there was also no ban on the artwork.

"A ban means a 'perintah larangan' has been issued. Is there one? The ministry's enforcement will only seize the artwork.

"The message here is please be careful when using designs for album cover arts. Why do they have to use the images of deities and replace the faces with those of the artists?

"They should not create any unhappiness among followers of any religion, be it Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam," she said.

The posters had angered the Penang Hindu Association (PHA) which demanded that the ministry take action against importers, distributors and those involved in producing and distributing such items.

Yesterday, the ministry spokesperson said that posters bearing the image had been confiscated by the ministry's enforcement officers during routine checks on agents importing printed materials into the country.

Following the PHA's complaint, the importer of the posters, Bookxcess Sdn Bhd, issued an apology.

"There was never any intention to hurt the Hindu community and for this, we are deeply sorry that the Hindu community was exposed to the offensive poster. Rest assured that we have taken every measured step to safeguard against this happening again,” Bookxcess managing director and founder Andrew Yap said in the apology.

"We have discarded the offensive posters since the first complaint was made,” he said.

The posters were sold at the Big Bad Wolf book sale organised by Bookxcess at the Penang Times Square last March.

However, PHA deputy president P. Murugiah said the apology was addressed only to the association and requested that the company make a public apology to Hindus.

Meanwhile, Penang deputy chief minister II and state Hindu Endowment Board chairman Dr P. Ramasamy said it was good the company had apologised.

He said the company would not be allowed to hold its book sale event again in Penang if something like this should recur. – June 5, 2014.

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