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Traders say leftist book raids pointless, will only make people more curious

Tempo - January 24, 2019

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Book traders operating at Blok M Square in Jakarta say that raids on books containing banned ideas will be pointless because the works are a product of ideas. "So, people can just reprint and circulate them again, said Block M book trader Alil on Thursday January 24.

Alil says that it would be best if the government hunt down the people who are alleged to hold communist ideas or ban such ideas. "So carry out raids on the people and not their books".

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo recently proposed massive raids on books which contain communist ideas and other banned ideologies. The proposal was made because he alleged that books with banned ideas are being sold in bookshops all around the country.

Earlier the TNI (Indonesian military) sized a number of books alleged to contain communist ideas from bookshops in several cities. "Because the bookshop owners said that the books are not just being sold here, but they're available in other places, this needs to be studied", said Prasetyo.

Alil is confused about the proposal. "How can they do that, yeah, carry out raids, the books have publishing permits", he said. It would be a different matter if the books were not allowed to be circulated. "It would be better if the government explicitly differentiate between which books are banned and which ones aren't", he said.

On the other hand however, the government's plan will instead make books which are alleged to contain leftist ideas even more sought after by people. "People will instead become more curious and seek out the books", said Alil.

A similar view was conveyed by another book seller, Eko. According to Eko it would be better if the government issued a clear regulation on which books are banned and which are not. "We just sell them, if they're authorised yeah well we sell them", he said.

Eko admitted that as a trader he cannot oppose or support the Attorney General's plan. "We're just traders, we can't do anything. If they want to conduct raids well please go ahead", he said.

Meanwhile according to Nana, an employee at the Kwitang Book Exchange in Central Jakarta, it would be impossible for bookshops to sell books with banned ideas. "It's what's called manufacturing a problem", she said.

Nana gave the example of how not long ago raids were carried out looking for books in the Kwitang area, but no books smacking of communism or banned ideas were found. According to Nana not many people are interested in leftist books.

The recent book raids have been criticised with the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) saying that the go against the principles of protecting freedom of expression and obtaining information.

These actions, said Wagiman, are the same as arbitrarily taking over people's personal rights which is prohibited under Article 28H Paragraph (4) of the 1945 Constitution on protecting individual rights.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pedagang Bilang Razia Buku Besar-besaran akan Sia-sia".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1168426/pedagang-bilang-razia-buku-besar-besaran-akan-sia-sia