Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Holy Fraud

Who's making a profit from tagging the Quran?
A hologram sticker costing only 7 sen each is being priced at RM1 and being made mandatory by the Home Ministry for each copy of the Quran to be sold, incurring the wrath of Quran publishers in the country.
A hologram sticker costing only 7 sen each is being priced at RM1 and being made mandatory by the Home Ministry for each copy of the Quran to be sold, incurring the wrath of Quran publishers in the country. 
 
With half a million of copies of the Quran being produced annually among the 80 publishers in the country, this means an instant half a million ringgit for the Home Ministry. 
 
Quran publishers in the country say the Home Ministry is intent on enforcing an outdated system, despite their protests.
 
Sabariah Abdullah of Saba' Media, speaking on behalf of Malaysian Quran Publishers' Association (PQM) said the very fact that the hologram sticker system was abandoned by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) in 2004 is argument enough for the Publication and Quranic Texts Division under the Home Ministry to not enforce the hologram stickers on copies of the Quran.
 
"Even then, KPDNKK charged us 20 sen per hologram sticker," said Sabariah.
 
Quran publishers also called on the government to move the division from the Home Ministry to park it under the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (Jakim) as they say that the Home Ministry does not understand the need for the Quran to be accessible to the public for propagation purposes.
 
"If they (Home Ministry people) had come to us (the publishers) and asked us about the hologram stickers, we could have told them that it does not help in combating piracy as KPDNKK tried it on DVDs and VCDs only to find that even the hologram stickers were pirated. It is an outdated system," said Sabariah, whose company also produces many religious based VCDs and DVDs. 
 
She questioned why the Home Ministry was asking RM1 for a hologram sticker which only costs five to seven sen to print locally, saying that she has quotations from local printers to prove it. 
 
At the moment, there is already a Quran verification stamp which is stamped onto each copy after it has been verified by the Home Ministry. 
 
PQM, which has 32 members now of the 80 Quran publishers in the country, states that between the local publishers alone, half a million copies of Qurans are circulated annually in the country. 
 
Furthermore, as the hologram stickers must be stuck on the copies before reaching the retailers, this results in thousands of ringgit in upfront additional cost, which in turn will increase the price of the Quran by at least RM3 each.
 
"This will then definitely be passed on to consumers. When all prices are going up, it is not a good time to raise the prices of holy books.
 
"The fact that the division is under the Home Ministry makes it worse as they do not understand our concerns of making Qurans more accessible to the public," said Sabariah.  
 
Having to pay upfront also disturbs the good credit trust system between publishers, printers and retailers, which allows for months to pass before they are paid their dues. 
 
Additionally, the Home Ministry raids on retailers and issuing warnings of possible three months' jail or RM10,000 is a bit too much, said Sabariah. 
 
"Why don't they go and find printers responsible for pirated copies and warn them instead?" said Sabariah, explaining for now only certified Muslim printers can print Qurans. 
 
Another Quran publisher, Shukri Abdullah of the company Shapers, said Qurans should be made cheaper and more accessible to the public, so that more people can read it. 
 
The hologram, he said, was unnecessary. 
 
His colleague in the industry, who preferred anonymity, said it is "funny" that the stamp which has been in use, is not checked on, but the holograms are checked for. 
 
"This puts us, retailers selling the Quran, always in fear of having our Qurans confiscated. They have conducted raids in Seremban and Kota Baru.
 
"Saudi Arabia and Syria do not use holograms as Quran is the copyright of God, why are we resorting to this?" said the publisher who has been publishing Qurans for more than a decade now.    
 
"This is the Quran, a holy book, it is not a Rolex watch where you are looking at quality and precision. We are looking at a sacred text. If it is pirated and copied word for word and there are no mistakes in the text, are you saying that that Quran is not authentic? It would still be an authentic Quran. 
 
"Piracy is not a major issue in Quran publication. We publishers are also in this for propagation purposes. There are so many other bigger issues in Quran publication which this division should look at and work on, somehow they have decided to pick on this one.
 
"We are not making much money out of this, most of us are small time publishers who do not even make RM1 million profit a year. The most may be RM5 million a year. Making Qurans expensive will make it inaccessible to the public. If Jakim was handling this issue, they would understand that one should not make Quran publication difficult," said Sabariah. 
 
"When they issued stickers for the Bibles to be used only in Sabah and Sarawak, they were not charged at all. Why are you so strict about the Quran?" said Sabariah. 
 
She cited the real problems of the Quran publishers is the long time taken to verify the Arabic script of the Quran as well as no grants being available for Quran publishers.
 
She also voiced the concern of publishers as the translations or commentaries of Qurans as well as Hadiths are not checked or verified by anyone from the authorities.  
 
"We are a Muslim majority country, with Islam as the official religion, and if Qurans are made easier to publish in Malaysia, it will help to make us the Saudi Arabia of the region as we are much respected as a Muslim country," said Sabariah. 
 
PQM recently handed a memorandum in a meeting with the Home Ministry on the matter, but minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is allowed by law to decide by himself on this, announced that he is taking the issue to the cabinet to be voted on.

FZ.com
 


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