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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A dirty mind never sleeps, especially in Kuala Lumpur

A dirty mind never sleeps, especially in Kuala Lumpur

If a future Sex and the City movie is ever shot in Southeast Asia, it is likely that Bangkok, Manila or Singapore would be the chosen venue.

They are viewed as the region’s centres of public and private sexual excess and libertine waywardness.

But a far better site would be Kuala Lumpur, where the amorous intrigues of ministers, businessmen and even the man next door are favourite topics for gossip – and gossip that is usually credible.

The capital of Muslim-majority Malaysia is curiously permissive when it comes to sexual indulgence, and those seeking hormonal relief can find it readily in the city centre’s Jalan P Ramlee bar district around the clock.

Of course, the same is true elsewhere across the region, but what makes KL different is the way it occurs so openly and yet is so rabidly demonised by political and religious leaders.

The effects of this chasm between wanton sexual adventurism and official shock-horror condemnation is a tragi-comedy that even Sophocles would be hard pressed to convey.

Last week, for instance, Malaysia’s cretinous smut-detectors belatedly realised that Where Did I Come From?, a 1973 school textbook by British author Peter Mayle, answers the question its title raises.

It explains procreation in such a calm, sensible way that it has been endorsed internationally for children between 4 and 8 years old, and in its four-decade existence it has never previously provoked criticism.

But as the American writer SJ Perelman once said: “A dirty mind never sleeps.”

And once alerted by two-faced prudes in the United Malays National Organisation, the bureaucrats banned Mayle’s book for including “elements that undermine societal morals and public interests”.

Those elements – some bland cartoons narrating the reproductive process – motivated the Home Ministry to warn that anyone distributing the text could be jailed for three years.

In this regard, it pays to recall that when a philandering UMNO chief minister raped a 14-year old schoolgirl some years ago, he was obliged to step down, but he was not jailed for three years.

He was not jailed for three days. He was not jailed at all.

The girl suffered, but hey, her morals must have lapsed due to reading Mayle’s book and so, in UMNO’s view, she deserved what she got.

It pays also to note that studies routinely indicate that the east coast Malay heartland states have the world’s highest rates of incest.

Few perpetrators of this most despicable crime get three years in jail; but then again, their daughters probably checked out the pictures in Mayle’s book and invited the illicit activity.

To further illustrate the sheer illogical nastiness of this textbook ban, it should also be remembered that Malaysian bookstores prominently display one of the most vile tomes ever written.

It has no sex in it, but it is chockful of anti-semitic hatred.

Called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it is a fraudulent tract that propagates an alleged Jewish plot to take over the world and it was used by Adolf Hitler to justify the Holocaust.

That it is openly sold, while a commonsense explication of the natural process of reproduction is banned, bespeaks volumes about the depths that UMNO has sunk in order to woo the Malay vote.

Even further depths are likely to be plumbed shortly as Prime Minister Najib Razak fires up his UMNO-led National Front for a general election.

He could wait till March next year, but party men in KL confirm that he will almost certainly go in late May or early June, while economic growth remains relatively strong.

Najib must not only win, but also recoup some of the startling losses that the Front suffered in 2008, especially in the Malay heartland states where UMNO faltered badly.

Hence the robustly conservative moves, like the book-banning, to show rural Malay-Muslims that UMNO has not become degenerate and slipped into a Sex and the City mode.



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