Malaysian censorship laws take a hit after refugee films stifled

Source: Asian Correspondent 

FORTIFY RIGHTS has echoed calls from local rights groups for the Malaysian government to repeal the country’s Film Censorship Act, after several films about refugees were censored including one about Rohingya child brides in Malaysia.

Activists say the Film Censorship Board (LPF) officials came to the Refugee Festival in Kuala Lumpur late last week, subsequently demanding the partial censorship of Bou, a film about trafficked brides from Burma (Myanmar), and total ban on Kakuma Can Dance about refugee hip hop dancers in Kenya.

“This censorship is unconstitutional and violates the rights of the filmmakers,” Fortify Rights executive director Amy Smith said in a statement on Wednesday.

Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution guarantees Malaysian citizens freedom of speech, assembly and association.

Nevertheless, its Film Censorship Act of 2002 requires all local and foreign films to be approved by the LPF; those who show films that have not been approved can face charges leading to three years in jail and/or a fine of RM30,000 (US$6,980). Read more

Censorship keeping Malaysians in their ‘cocoon’, says activist

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Lena Hendry said screenings of human rights documentaries ― generally not shown on television channels ― are important to create greater awareness for a better society. ― Pictures by Choo Choy May for the MMO.

PETALING JAYA, April 30 ― Banning the screening of documentaries keeps Malaysians inside their “cocoons” instead of learning more about the world, a local activist has said.

Lena Hendry said screenings of human rights documentaries ― generally not shown on television channels ― are important to create greater awareness for a better society.

“So how do we actually show these films to society, to actually say there’s something happening in your backyard. The indigenous people are being persecuted; the plantation workers are evicted from their homes; there is an urban poor community. How is society going to know when these films are not going to be allowed to be screened?” she asked at a public forum on film censorship last week.

From her personal experience, Hendry said there were multiple obstacles that impeded the local screening of documentaries that presented an alternative to the accepted portrayal that made it seem as if such screenings posed a “threat to national security”. Read more