End harassment against Lena Hendry, rights group urges

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A human rights group today voiced hope that the public prosecutor’s agreement to withdraw its appeal to the conviction of Lena Hendry would signal an end to the “harassment and intimidation” against the activist.

Insisting that Lena should never have been charged in the first place, Pusat Komas said she had been subjected to a long process of being arrested, detained, charged and convicted under Section 6 (1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act.

This was after the activist aired an uncensored documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall in 2013.

She was fined RM10,000 on March 22 after the Magistrate’s Court found her guilty of the offence.

She paid the fine and was initially freed from the film censorship charge at the end of the prosecution’s case last March.

However, the High Court overturned the acquittal and ordered Lena to enter defence for her charge. 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

In face of censorship, how should the Malaysian arts community act?

Source: The Malay Mail Online

A visitor views artwork at the ‘ESCAPE from the SEA’ exhibition, as organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, at National Visual Arts Gallery in Kuala Lumpur March 15, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

A visitor views artwork at the ‘ESCAPE from the SEA’ exhibition, as organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, at National Visual Arts Gallery in Kuala Lumpur March 15, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The recent removal of Sabah art collective Pangrok Sulap’s artwork from an international exhibition because of an alleged complaint from “high-up” has left the local arts community feeling quite bitter.

While the subsequent comments and criticism by members of the community about how the incident was handled by the different stakeholders was nothing short of admirable, the fact remains that censorship, or even self-censorship, is not new in Malaysia.

So how should curators and artists move on from the incident and tackle censorship in the future? Several practitioners and observers told Malay Mail Online that the arts community must stand by each other and hold institutions accountable. Read more

Malaysia allows Beauty and the Beast screening but censors ‘gay moment’

Source: Asian Correspondent

Director of the movie Bill Condon and composer Alan Menken pose with cast members Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the premiere of "Beauty and the Beast" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Director of the movie Bill Condon and composer Alan Menken pose with cast members Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the premiere of “Beauty and the Beast” in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

MALAYSIA will allow Beauty and the Beast to be shown in cinemas, after reports on Monday its release would be postponed indefinitely.

Disney Malaysia confirmed the premiere and the film’s release on Thursday would be delayed after objections from the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF).

Release of the film, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, was reportedly on hold for “internal review” by authorities.

SEE ALSO: Film censorship is being used to quell discourse in Malaysia

Later in the day, however, LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told The Star Online “the film has been approved with a P13 parental guidance classification, with a minor cut.”

The authorities had made a minor edit on the film after concerns about a “gay moment.”

Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon told gay lifestyle magazine Attitude this month the film would feature “a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Local cinema companies Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) and TGV Cinemas were offering refunds for Malaysian customers who had already bought tickets.

The GSC website still reads “movie not available” where the synopsis of Beauty and the Beast should be. Read more

Gay wujud sebelum ‘Beauty and the Beast’ lagi, kata Nazri

Sumber: The Malay Mail Online

Actors Dan Stevens (L) and Emma Watson pose for photographers at a media event for the film Beauty and the Beast in London, Britain February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Dan Stevens (kiri) bersama Emma Watson bergambar ketika promosi ‘Beauty and the Beast’ di London pada 23 Februari 2017. — Foto Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Mac — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz menyelar penangguhan tayangan filem Beauty and the Beast, menyifatkan ia tindakan tidak masuk akal.

Menteri pelancongan dan kebudayaan berkata penonton filem seharusnya diberi pilihan membuat keputusan untuk menonton filem yang digemari.

“Saya rasa ia mengarut. Maksud saya ia sebahagian daripada cerita dan kita tidak perlu menirunya.

“Kita tidak melarang sesebuah filem kerana watak gay.

“Sebelum ini tanpa watak gay dalam Beauty and the Beast, sudah ada golongan itu di dunia. Saya tidak fikir ia akan mempengaruhi sesiapa.

“Kita perlu berfikir. Kita mesti membenarkan penonton untuk membuat keputusan,” katanya.

Filem yang dijadual ditayangkan Khamis ini, di Malaysia ditangguhkan selepas kontroversi watak gay. Read more

Watak gay, Malaysia tangguh tayang ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Sumber: The Malay Mail Online

Actors Dan Stevens (L) and Emma Watson pose for photographers at a media event for the film Beauty and the Beast in London, Britain February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Dan Stevens (kiri) bersama Emma Watson bergambar ketika promosi ‘Beauty and the Beast’ di London pada 23 Februari 2017. — Foto Reuters

PETALING JAYA, 13 Mac — Filem Beauty and the Beast ditangguhkan tayangannya, yang dijadual Khamis ini, di Malaysia selepas kontroversi watak gay.

Pengedarnya Walt Disney Co (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd berkata penangguhan filem itu untuk “semakan dalaman”, lapor portal Star Online petang ini.

Tiada penjelasan lanjut diberikan berhubung penangguhan itu dan tarikh baru tayangan filem klasik Walt Disney itu tidak dapat dipastikan.

Semakan terkini jadual tayangan mendapati filem itu ditarik balik daripada rangkaian panggung-panggung utama negara ini.

Filem itu, bikinan semula animasi Walt Disney pada 1991, dibintangi pelakon popular Emma Watson yang memegang watak Belle dan Luke Evans sebagai Gaston.

Kontroversi timbul apabila watak LeFou, yang dibawa Josh Gad, digambarkan oleh pengarahnya Bill Condon “yang mahu mencium Gaston.”

Orientasi seks watak tersebut hanya terdedah sekelip mata dalam tarian akhir Beauty and the Beast, dan penonton mungkin tidak perasan, lapor The Guardian. Read more

Zunar on why he’s willing to risk prison

Source: FMT News

Cartoonist Zunar tells the New York Times that the biggest enemy for anyone in the world is self-censorship. Pic from FMT News.

Cartoonist Zunar tells the New York Times that the biggest enemy for anyone in the world is self-censorship. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: With several laws and the police zooming in on critics of the government, people are turning to social media to vent their feelings, says cartoonist Zunar.

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, told the New York Times in an interview that more and more people were not happy with the government.

However, there were many laws “stopping them from being in the front row and being very, very vocal”, so they would use any type of form, of tool, to express their views or to protest, he added.

“So now, social media is something that is a very effective tool. People are starting to be creative in social media by using drawings, cartoons, posters or video clips.”

Saying the government felt threatened by this, he noted that it was either introducing new laws or increasingly using existing laws such as the Sedition Act to stifle dissent.

Zunar told the NYT that when protesters disrupted his art exhibition at the George Town Literary Festival on Saturday, he had assumed that the police would want his help identifying those responsible.

Instead, Zunar said, he was questioned by the police, detained for a day and informed that he was under investigation for producing cartoons that purportedly defamed Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Read more

Malaysia Will Likely Force ‘Political Blogs’ and News Websites to Register With the Government – Mong Palatino

Source: Global Voices

BY MONG PALATINO

Bloggers in Malaysia brace themselves for state-mandated registration. Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry has formally proposed legal amendments to the Attorney General that would require the country’s political blogs and online news portals to register with the government. Minister Salleh Said Keruak denies that the legislation amounts to censorship, arguing that the proposal is designed to preserve the Internet as a tool for promoting Malaysia’s economic growth, and meant to protect the country against internal divisions brought about by misleading information published online, he says.

Human rights groups and media freedom advocates denounced the proposal as a curtailment of free speech, saying the move reverses the government’s earlier stated commitment to promoting Internet freedom.

Critics of Malaysia’s ruling political party say the push to force political blogs to register with the state is a desperate tactic meant to silence dissent. Since last year, the government has struggled against a corruption scandal that’s sparked mass protests across the country. Internet users, including bloggers, are some of the prime minister’s most vocal detractors, accusing him of ill-gotten gains in several dubious transactions. State censors have already blocked a handful of news websites for reporting allegedly ”unverified” information about the corruption issue. Read more

Excessive film censorship will make Malaysians narrow-minded, deputy minister says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

dewan_rakyat_signpost_2015_-_parliament_reportKUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — Too much censorship of movies involving sensitivities on religion, violence and sex would make Malaysians a narrow-minded lot, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said today.

Nur Jazlan said censorship is only required for scenes that violate certain guidelines set by the Film Censorship Board (LPF) and the religious authorities here.

“The presence of the LPF was meant to educate viewers so that they can make the best choice (in watching film).

“If we want to restrict all content made by film producers, it will not be good education or culture for viewers in our country. We wanted to provide more space to the viewers to open up their minds,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today. Read more

Democracy fades in Malaysia and Turkey as leaders crack down

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are very few successful, secular democracies among Muslim-majority nations. Sadly, two of this rare breed are now in the process of failing.

If Malaysia and Turkey continue sliding towards authoritarianism, it will put democracies in the Islamic world on the list of endangered species. And they are sliding. In the past 10 days, the governments in both countries shut down media outlets that dared report unflattering facts about their leaders.

And when peaceful protesters marched on the weekend to object to the shutdown of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper, Zaman, the police turned water cannon and tear gas on them.

<i>Illustration: John Shakespeare.</i>

Illustration: John Shakespeare.

In Malaysia it was the country’s most popular news website, The Malaysian Insider or TMI, that was blocked by the government. The next day Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to justify the blatant censorship by writing that it was “unhealthy journalism” to have news portals that were “constructing their own version of ‘reality'”.

It’s a sure sign of the dictator’s mindset – only one version of reality may be allowed to exist, and that’s the version officially sanctioned by the ruler. Read more