Censorship in Malaysia

Censorship in Malaysia

Censorship is a growing concern for Malaysia as it attempts to adapt to a modern knowledge-based economy. [cite news | first=Johnathan | last=Kent | coauthors= | title=Malaysia's censorship strangles growth | date=2007-11-26 | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2947264.stm | publisher =BBC | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-01 | language = ] The press is tightly restricted and the level of public debate is considered low. Many critically acclaimed media works have been banned including "Daredevil", [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Malaysia bans Affleck's Daredevil | date=2003-02-14 | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2760429.stm | publisher =BBC | pages = | accessdate = 2008-01-01 | language = ] an episode of the American television show "Friends" [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Friends episode banned in Malaysia | date=2002-08-23 | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2212180.stm | publisher =BBC | pages = | accessdate = | language = ] and the series Family Guy.cite news | title=Titles banned in Malaysia | url =http://www.imdb.com/List?certificates=Malaysia:(Banned)&&heading=14;Malaysia:(Banned) | publisher =Internet Movie Database | accessdate = 2008-02-29 | language = English]

In 2007, Malaysia obtained 124th position in the Worlwide Press Freedom Index by "Reporters Without Borders". It was also given a "Partly Free" status on the Freedom in the World report by Freedom House in 2008. For the Freedom in the World index, on a scale of one to seven, with one being the most free and seven being the least, Malaysia obtained four points for both Political Rights and Civil Liberties. [ [http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2008 Map of Freedom in the World] . Freedom House. Retrieved on 2008-08-03]

Unlicensed use or possession of a printing press is illegal under the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984. Journalists are frequently given guidelines by the Prime Minister's Office when reporting 'sensitive' issues, and media self-censorship is encouraged. [cite news | first=Mindy | last=McAdams | coauthors= | title=How to report a wedding | date=2007-06-12 | url =http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article-southeastasia.asp?parentid=71783 | publisher =Asia Media | pages = | accessdate = | language = ]

The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia is the Government agency responsible for granting licenses to the films for viewing.


One of the source claimed that Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world, with television and film strictly vetted by the board, which is under the authority of the Home Ministry. Film censors in the country have little tolerance over nudity, sex, strong language, violence or sensitive religious themes in films. Films are rated to guide audiences on the nature of the content, or banned outright if the material is considered inappropriate. Scenes of kissing are often cut from films and TV shows.

In line with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's call for Malaysians to "hold on to good values and preserve the family institution", the board chairman Shaari Mohamad Noor said:

* "Ben Stiller" comedy Zoolander earned itself a ban because of a plotline in which an assassination attempt is made on the Malaysian prime minister.
* "Austin Powers" did not appear in the mainly Muslim country because the Censorship Board said "The Spy Who Shagged Me" contained too much sexual innuendo.
* "Saving Private Ryan" was permitted with many violent scenes cut.
* "Schindler's List" was banned for being sympathetic to Jews, though was later allowed with several violent and nude scenes cut.
* "The Prince of Egypt" was banned so as not to offend the country's majority Muslim population, the reason given by chairman of the Film Censorship Board was: "We found it insensitive for religious and moral reasons. Because of the many races in Malaysia, religion is a very sensitive issue."
* "The Vagina Monologues" has been banned, the authorities in Kuala Lumpur have ruled that the show cannot return because of "complaints from a number of people".
* Other titles to be blacklisted included the "Ally McBeal" episode "The Queen Bee", and two episodes of the hit sitcom "Friends", "The Video Tape" and "But I'm A Cheerleader". [ [http://www.thefileroom.org/documents/dyn/DisplayCase.cfm/id/430 TV and Film Censorship in Malaysia] Retrieved on 2008-08-02]

Banning of media works

In print in 2006 alone 56 publications were banned by the Internal Security Ministry, including the Indonesian translation of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. [" [http://www.mois.gov.my/opencms/export/KKDN/BhgPQ/senaraiharam2006.html 2006 List of banned publications] ". Malaysian Ministry of Internal Security.]

Malaysia once banned the release of the Bible in an Iban language translation over the translation for the word "God", i.e. "Allah Tala" which was widely thought to be specifically for Muslim use, but had since lifted it. [Bible Networks. [http://www.biblenetworknews.com/asiapacific/042703_malaysia.html Malaysia's ban on Iban Bible lifted] . Retrieved on 2008-04-15]


Malaysia has a history of banning musicians. In 2003 US rock band Linkin Park were banned from wearing shorts while performingBBC News Online. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4778993.stm Indecency fine for Pussycat Dolls] . Retrieved on 2008-01-19.] and in 2004, singer Mariah Carey was asked to cover up. [BBC News Online. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3402201.stm Mariah upsets Malaysian Muslims] . Retrieved on 2008-01-19.] Madonna has been banned from Malaysian television [Freemuse. [http://www.freemuse.org/sw12305.asp American music performance banned from tv] . Retrieved on 2008-01-19] and a scheduled concert by Norwegian metal band, Mayhem, was banned earlier in 2006. [Metal Underground. [http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=17029 Mayhem Banned From Malaysia] . Retrieved on 2008-01-19] Malaysian organizers of a Pussycat Dolls concert have been fined for flouting decency laws. The country's opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, had urged its government to force a cancellation of a concert on August 29, 2008 by Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne, since her onstage moves were considered too provocative for Malaysia's teenage population. [cite web|url=http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/480427|title=Malaysian group wants Lavigne concert cancelled|last=Zappei|first=Julia|date=2008-08-18|publisher=The Star|accessdate=2008-08-19] However, the concert went on as scheduled. It sold over 10,000 tickets and was a brilliant success despite a light drizzle. [cite news|title=Lavigne still plans to rock Malaysia|date=2008-08-22|work=The Star|publisher=Torstar|pages=E2|accessdate=2008-08-22]

Censorship of nudity

Books, magazines and prints containing nudity (including aborigine peoples) are to be censored manually by shading the segments in black ink while some of the censorships especially in books were made by ripping off the entire page. [http://macvaysia.com/?p=234]

Silverfish Books in Kuala Lumpur has been reporting on its discovery of a new wave of censorship of foreign books in Malaysia (list of banned books [http://www.silverfishbooks.com/RestrictedBooks1.htm] ). They’ve discovered the censorship of Milan Kundera, the banning of works by Khalil Gibran, Chinua Achebe, and Iris Chang, and the restriction of books by Rushdie and many others. They also managed to get a list of some of the restricted books from one of their distributors, the list includes literary fiction (e.g. work from Salman Rushdie, Irvine Welsh, Anthony Burgess, Rebecca Wells), a fantasy novel by Robert Jordan, children’s books (e.g. SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer titles), comics (It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, The Best of “Drawn and Quarterly”), miscellaneous nonfiction (Mao: A Life, Making Globalization Work, etc.), as well as a host of books dealing with human bodies and/or sexuality (e.g. the Vagina Monologues, Breastfeeding Your Baby: Revised Edition, How to Talk to Your Child About Sex, The Best Sex Positions Ever). [http://journal.bookfinder.com/archives/entry/000278.html]

Nudity, sex offenders and crimes

[http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Wednesday/National/2233397/Article] Malaysia Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the current guidelines, which were drawn up in 1993, would be restudied because some of the rules "were no longer applicable", and the main objective was to build a better "Bangsa Malaysia". On the current censorship guidelines relating to nudity, he said that if a nude scene was "too explicit", then the scene would be axed. "It's up to the Board. They watch the scene and if it's too glaring then they will cut it. If it's not pornographic in nature, then they will allow it. It is very subjective,". He also said "Today's standard of morality and spirituality must be strong because people are exposed to all sorts of challenges" and "There is a correlation between criminal offenders and sex and violence shown on screen."

Public complaints

The movie Rambo 4 received complaints from the public. [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/2/25/focus/20433975&sec=focus] "I recently saw the movie, Rambo 4 in a local cineplex and was astounded when I distinctly heard the words, “f**k off” twice, and the words “pain in the a**e” and “b*****d.” " [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/2/22/focus/20307246&sec=focus]

audi Arabia forcing on Malaysia

On November 12, 2003, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad, the former editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times wrote an article criticizing Saudi Arabian policies that aided the United States invasion of Iraq and also among other things. As a result, the Saudi government reduced Malaysian quota for haj and in the same year he "was fired without warning by the daily’s management at the request of the ruling UMNO party following a complaint by the Saudi ambassador in Malaysia." UMNO, which is part of the ruling government and holding equity in the papers later stated that he had jeopardized Malaysia's close relationship with Saudi Arabia. He had a contract that was supposed to expire in October 2004. [http://pgoh13.free.fr/editor_sacked.html New Straits Times chief editor sacked] [http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8598 New Straits Times editor in chief fired as a result of Saudi pressure]

IS surprised by ban on 2005 book

On August 2008, Sisters in Islam (SIS) is surprised that a book published in 2005 featuring a compilation of research papers has been banned by the Home Ministry of Malaysia. SIS research and publications programme manager, Masjaliza Hamzah, said activists and academics from South-East Asia and the Middle East contributed to the book in 2003 and it mainly focused on challenges Muslim women faced in their countries and also said: "It discussed strategies that were used to curb extremism and promote women’s rights" [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/15/nation/22089770&sec=nation]

Censorship of Internet

News blogs

Deputy Science and Technology Minister Kong Cho Ha has announced that all Malaysian news blogs may have to be registered with the Ministry of Information saying the laws were necessary to dissuade bloggers from promoting disorder in Malaysia’s multi-ethnic society.Fact|date=January 2008

Blocking of Malaysia Today

On August 27 2008, Malaysiakini reported that Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has ordered all internet service providers (ISPs) to block controversial online portal Malaysia Today. [ [http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/88683 Malaysia Today blocked! Order from MCMC] , Andrew Ong, Malaysiakini] . That was despite earlier promises and Point 7 under the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees that there would be no internet censorship. [ [http://www.mscmalaysia.my/topic/MSC+Malaysia+Bill+of+Guarantees MSC Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees] , Multimedia Super Corridor, August 29 2008]

Blogger arrested

On September 12, 2008, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been arrested under internal security laws (Internal Security Act (Malaysia). He has already been charged with sedition and defamation after linking the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman. The blogger's wife Marina Lee Abdullah said he was arrested by police at his home under legislation that allows for detention without trial, saying: "They came here and arrested him under the Internal Security Act for inciting hate in his articles on Islam," [http://www.theage.com.au/national/blogger-arrested-for-inciting-hate-about-islam-20080912-4fbo.html]

= Partial list of films banned in Malaysia =

* "The Exorcist" (1973) - passed for VCD release by Movie Master
* "Saturday Night Fever" (1977) - passed for DVD release
* "Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)
* "Scarface" (1983)
* "Pet Sematary" (1989)
* "Schindler's List" (1993) - passed in 2004 for DVD release by Berjaya HVN
* "Babe" (1995) - passed for VHS release by Berjaya HVN in 1996
* "Showgirls" (1995) - passed for DVD release
* "" (1995)
* "Last Man Standing" (1996)
* "Boogie Nights" (1997) - passed for DVD release
* "Orgazmo " (1997) - strong sex related themes
* "" (1998)- passed for VCD release by Berjaya HVN
* "Blade" (1998)
* "The Prince of Egypt" (1998) - passed for VCD and DVD release by Berjaya HVN
* "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) - passed for VCD and DVD release by Berjaya HVN
* "" (1999)
* "American Pie" (1999) - passed for DVD release
* "" (1999)
* "Fiza" (2001)
* "Zoolander" (2001)
* "Auto Focus" (2002) - passed for VCD release from MediaMax.com Sdn Bhd.
* "Queen of the Damned" (2002)
* "Pinocchio" (2002)
* "Bruce Almighty" (2003) - passed for VCD and DVD release by Berjaya HVN
* "Daredevil" (2003) - passed for VCD and DVD release
* "Homerun" (2003)
* "Freddy vs. Jason" (2003)
* "Underworld" (2003)
* "" (2003) - passed for DVD release by Berjaya HVN
* "The Girl Next Door" (2004)
* "The Passion of the Christ" (2004) - prohibited from non-Christian viewers
* "Sideways" (2004)
* "" (2004)
* "Saw (2004)
* "Sin City" (2005)
* "Hustle & Flow" (2005)
* "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005)
* "Saw II" (2005)
* "Inside Deep Throat" (2005)
* "Hard Candy" (2005)
* "Hostel" (2005)
* "Rent" (2005)
* "Brokeback Mountain" (2006)
* "See No Evil" (2006)
* "United 93" (2006)
* "How to Eat Fried Worms" (2006)
* "Saw III" (2006)
* "" (2006)
* "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters" (2007)
* "" (2007)
* "Halloween" (2007)
* "Saw IV" (2007)


External links

* [http://www.pulpmovies.com/gagwatch/category/asia-pacific/malaysia/ Pulpmovie's Gagwatch]
* [http://www.mois.gov.my/opencms/export/KKDN/BhgPQ/senaraiharam2006.html List of banned books in Malaysia]

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