Filmmakers call for reform of Film Censorship Act

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: In line with the new government’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression, a group of filmmakers and human right activists are urging for the Government to reform the Film Censorship Act 2002.

The Freedom Film Network (FFN) has called on Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo to enable an environment where independent film makers can flourish.

“FFN would also like to see the de-politicisation of film regulating bodies such as Lembaga Penapisan Filem and FINAS, who should be made independent and transparent in all their dealings,” FFN said in a statement on Sunday (June 3).

“We urge the government to assure the Malaysian public that films dealing with human rights issues or matters of public interest will be free from politically motivated censorship,” it said.

FFN said it strongly believes that film making should not be seen as an industry solely for its entertainment or commercial value and should be celebrated for its role in nation building. Read more

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

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

Lena Hendry: Prosecutor files appeal to increase penalty

Source: FMT News

Lawyer says notice given by prosecution of appeal to enhance RM10,000 fine imposed by Magistrate's Court, as defence too appeals against conviction and fine. Pic from FMT News.

Lawyer says notice given by prosecution of appeal to enhance RM10,000 fine imposed by Magistrate’s Court, as defence too appeals against conviction and fine. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Not satisfied with the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court imposition of a RM10,000 fine on Lena Hendry, the public prosecutor is now filing an appeal for a more severe punishment, Malaysiakini reported today.

New Sin Yew told the news portal that his client had receive a letter informing her of the decision to appeal.

“Yes, the prosecutors are appealing the RM10,000 fine. Lena received the letter informing her of the matter,” he was quoted as saying, adding that he too, was appealing against the conviction and fine.

On March 22, Hendry, who is Pusat Komas programme manager, was fined RM10,000 for airing an uncensored documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war in 2013.

The previous month, on Feb 21, she was found guilty of the charge under Se

ction 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act for showing No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war that lasted for 26 years. Read more

Activist avoids jail, fined RM10,000 for showing unapproved movie

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Lena Hendry arrives at the Magistrate Court in Kuala Lumpur for the decision on the film censorship case, February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy Ma for the MMO.

Lena Hendry arrives at the Magistrate Court in Kuala Lumpur for the decision on the film censorship case, February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy Ma for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 ― Activist Lena Hendry was today penalised RM10,000 for screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war that was not approved by the Film Censorship Board.

The was handed down in the magistrate’s court here by Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris, who last month found the Pusat Komas programme manager guilty of the charge under the Film Censorship Act 2002.

Lena had been liable for up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002.

Her lawyer, New Sin Yew, said she will pay the fine today, before the 4pm deadline. Read more

You are not our appointed moral guardian, Nazri tells Censorship Board

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz censured the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) today after rumours surfaced that another movie might be banned here because of LGBT elements.

Nazri also asked the LPF to allow the screening of 'Power Rangers', but rate it PG 13 to allow parents to make their own judgement. ― Picture by Choo Choy May for the MMO.

Nazri also asked the LPF to allow the screening of ‘Power Rangers’, but rate it PG 13 to allow parents to make their own judgement. ― Picture by Choo Choy May for the MMO.

In a press conference at the media centre in the Dewan Rakyat here, Nazri called LPF’s actions “depressing” and reminded the board not to overstep its bounds.

“Who can be better than the parents to decide for their children? Who is the Censorship Board to say in a blanket rule that it’s not good for the children?

“PG 13 is clear — parents can bring their children. We have never appointed the Censorship Board to be our moral guardian in such matters,” he said, referring to the viewership rating system.

He was responding to a question at the press conference on the rumour LPF will ban Power Rangers, or censor a scene which reportedly portrays one of the protagonists as a lesbian.

“Now it’s Power Rangers. I’m depressed. I feel the Censorship Board is going overboard. I think we should rein in the Censorship Board, and their standards should not be used for all Malaysians. We must do something about this,” he added.

Nazri also asked the LPF to allow the screening of Power Rangers, but rate it PG 13 to allow parents to make their own judgement. Read more

Activist seeks review of Film Censorship Act

Source: FMT News

Activist Lena Hendry (second from right) hands over her complaints to Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai (middle) and Jerald Joseph (second from right), pic from FMT News.

Activist Lena Hendry (second from right) hands over her complaints to Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai (middle) and Jerald Joseph (second from left), pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activist Lena Hendry, who was recently found guilty of screening an uncensored film, is making a last-minute plea for a review of the law she was convicted under.

Facing a possible three-year jail sentence, she said the Film Censorship Act needed to be reviewed as the law was “quite outdated”.

She said it could be seen as a blanket ban on whoever had a video on their handphones that was not filtered by the authorities.

She said they could be found guilty because of that, she told Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioners Mah Weng Kwai and Jerald Joseph when filing a complaint against the law. Read more

Film censorship is being used to quell discourse in Malaysia — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

BY ZAN AZLEE

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

AS a documentary filmmaker, I regularly screen my films and also give talks and workshops, both locally and internationally. When I am out of the country, I always get asked the question of how local filmmakers deal with the strict censorship laws in Malaysia.

My first response is always to correct their question. The question shouldn’t be how we Malaysian filmmakers deal with strict censorship laws; it should be how we deal with vague, unclear and inconsistent censorship laws.

Take for example, Lena Hendry, who is a former employee of a Malaysian-based human rights non-governmental organisation called Pusat KOMAS. She was found guilty of screening the documentary ‘No Fire Zone: The killing fields of Sri Lanka’ without censorship approval in 2013.

Hendry was convicted under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002 on Feb 21, 2017 and could now face up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000 (US$6,750). Sentencing has been set for 22nd March. Read more

CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary

Source: FMT News

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is the latest to criticise the conviction of activist Lena Hendry for screening a documentary on the carnage that took place in the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war.

CIJ said in a statement that Hendry’s conviction was a serious violation of the fundamental human right to access information and of freedom of expression.

“This demonstrates the targeting of civil society by the Malaysian government for promoting discussions on human rights and expression of political viewpoints.

“Censorship laws – whether impacting journalism or creative content – are drawn up and implemented arbitrarily, and historically abused to silence critical content.”

The statement also criticised “the politically motivated pressure” that led to the crackdown on the screening and eventual persecution of Hendry.

‘Human Rights Watch stated in its statement in 2013 that prior to the screening by Pusat Komas, where Hendry was working as a programme coordinator, an official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with the venue management and tried to persuade them to stop the screening.

“The Sri Lanka embassy was said to have communicated with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Censorship Board to urge the film not be shown.”

On Feb 21, the Magistrates’ Court convicted Hendry for screening the documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, without the permission of the official film censors in July 2013. Read more

Rights groups rail against activist’s conviction for screening film

Source: FMT News

Suaram condemns attempt to punish Lena Hendry for simply screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war while Human Rights Watch alleges political motivation. Pic from FMT News.

Suaram condemns attempt to punish Lena Hendry for simply screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war while Human Rights Watch alleges political motivation. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights groups are crying foul over the conviction of activist Lena Hendry for her role in showing a documentary film on war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

The programme coordinator at rights group Pusat Komas was found guilty by the Magistrates’ Court yesterday of screening an uncensored documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, on July 3, 2013.

“No Fire Zone” tells the story of war crimes committed in the last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the conviction a violation of Lena’s freedom of expression, adding that it was not in line with international rights standards.

In a statement today, HRW said the move appeared to be motivated by Putrajaya’s desire to appease the Sri Lankan embassy officials whom the NGO said had publicly demanded that the film not be shown. They had also visited the venue on the day of the film’s screening to urge venue managers to cancel the event, HRW said. Read more