Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Other Hero(ine)

A certain former prime minister spoke at some "festival of ideas" at Publika one weekend.

But I could barely keep it in when I saw this other person on the first day of the festival. Think I almost squealed.

Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz told me she's been manning the Borders stall since the first festival and I couldn't believe it. And I'd been following the case since it broke.

I find her more relatable. Both of us work with books and, I think, feel confident that the right to legally earn our livelihoods is protected by the state.

At least, I think we used to.

To put it simply, Nik Raina was persecuted for selling a book that JAWI, the Federal Territories religious affairs department, has deemed "bad". However, it has had its case against her thrown out several times, due largely to how it was handled.

In spite of this, JAWI is going to appeal this case to the Federal Court, and there's a possibility it might be reopened.

Many are baffled by the dogged pursuit of the Borders bookstore manager by the religious affairs department. Didn't the Syariah High Court already drop her case?

Her plight casts a pall over every Malaysian; no longer can we view the authorities as protective parental figures. We are frightened to speak up or do something - anything. We are cowed into meekness, forced to blindly obey. To follow our hearts or believe what our gut says is right can be considered treasonous.

This is no way to live.

Which is why Nik Raina and Borders Malaysia's decision to take on JAWI over the former's case gives us hope.

26/08/2015   So it seems Nik Raina's legal nightmare is finally over as the Federal Court dismissed JAWI's latest prosecution bid against her. Kudos to Borders Malaysia for sticking with her to the end of this case.


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