SIBF faces controversy, Home Ministry probes allegation of ‘obscene’ novel sales

THE Selangor International Book Fair (SIBF 2023) currently underway at the MBSA Convention Centre in Shah Alam has found itself entangled in a web of controversy as the Home Ministry investigates allegations of “obscene” novels being openly sold at the event.

Event director Zafrullah Aris confirmed the probe in a statement issued today. The controversy surfaced when viral posts on social media alleged the unrestricted sale of explicit novels, specifically in Bahasa Malaysia, at the book fair. The Home Ministry has taken these claims seriously, prompting an immediate investigation into the matter.

“Complaints have been made against viral posts on social media that claimed obscene novels are being openly sold (at the event), and the Home Ministry is conducting an investigation.

“The SIBF2023 secretariat is ever willing to cooperate with the Home Ministry to monitor and check the contents (of books) that are being sold, from time to time,” said Zafrullah.

Moreover, the controversy escalated when a concerned netizen revealed that these explicit novels, clearly labeled for adult reading were being purchased by children and teenagers aged between 11 and 13.

The concerned Facebook user reported that these young readers were requesting their parents or guardians to acquire the books on their behalf.

The novels in question reportedly contain themes deemed unsuitable for minors including instances of rape, relationships with significant age differences and depictions of domestic violence.

According to Zafrullah, SIBF2023 aims to cater to readers of all age groups.

“SIBF2023 aims to cater to readers of all age groups. Visitors can get quality reading materials at the event, and the secretariat has taken various steps to ensure only suitable material is sold to customers.”

“Continuous briefing and reminders on this are issued to everyone involved in the event, before, and during the event,” Zafrullah defended the event, stating that parents should also take heed of what their children are buying at the fair and reading.

He also noted the ongoing efforts to brief and remind everyone involved in the event about the importance of adhering to content guidelines.

Furthermore, he urged parents to actively monitor and guide their children’s book selections at the fair.

SIBF2023 is being held at the MBSA Convention Centre in Shah Alam, Selangor, from Dec 1 to 10.– Dec 7, 2023

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