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Asia Pacific News

2009: July-Sept

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29th September   

Update: Counter Cultural...

Bruno banned in Malaysia
Link Here
Full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Malaysia has banned Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy Bruno because it contains a lot of sex, a senior official said .

The movie has been banned in Malaysia because of the sexual content. It was decided by a three-man committee. (There is) a lot of sex in it, an official with the National Film Censorship Board told AFP.

He said the panel judges movies based on whether they feature violence, horror, sex or counter-cultural themes. In the case of Bruno , the ban is based on its sex and counter-culture content, he said on condition of anonymity.

Borat was also banned in Malaysia. Since last year alone, Malaysia has banned five movies, the most recent being US horror film Halloween II , written and directed by Rob Zombie.


25th September   

Censorship by Committee...

Singapore reviews its censorship policies
Link Here
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority

Singapore's government has appointed 17 people from various fields to sit on a committee that has been tasked with updating policies on censorship of the media and the arts.

Goh Yew Lin, chairman of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music is the chairman of the Censorship Review Committee (CRC).

Sixteen others representing a cross-section of the society have been appointed as members of the committee. They include people from the arts and media sector; the community and social sector; and various professions, said a statement from the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts.

The independent committee has been set up to conduct a mid-term review of content issues across the spectrum of broadcast, films, videos, publications, audio materials, the arts and new media.

It will look largely at issues that have been raised by the industry players during their regular dialogues with the Media Development Authority and from community feedback. These include the fine-tuning of current film and video classifications; sale and distribution of videos; and content issues related to entertainment and lifestyle publications.

The review will also examine how media convergence is testing traditional content regulation concepts and whether new content codes are necessary to guide the emergence of new technologies and new media platforms.

The terms of reference of the committee are:

  • To recommend refinements to existing content standards and guidelines to reflect societal and technological changes since the last CRC, while recognising the need to protect the young and respect racial, religious and social sensitivities.
  • To study whether there is a need to introduce additional content standards and guidelines that would be relevant to the emergence of new technologies and new media platforms.
  • To recommend ways to encourage industry players, community and artists to be involved in co-regulation of media content and classification.
  • To recommend avenues to improve community engagement and public education in content standards and guidelines.

The committee will target to complete the review and submit its report and recommendations to the Government by mid-2010.


25th September   

Updated: Cowing to Religious Intolerance...

Malaysian censor attempts to remove video of cow head protest from news website
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

A Malaysian state government searched for a new site for a Hindu temple, bowing to pressure from Muslim residents who staged a gruesome protest against its planned construction that triggered debate about religious intolerance.

Authorities in central Selangor state tried to reach a compromise in talks with residents of the Muslim-majority neighborhood in the state capital, Shah Alam, where the temple was to be built. The meeting descended into chaos when protesters shouted insults at Selangor Chief Minister Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and other lawmakers, according to a video of the meeting posted on Malaysiakini, an independent news Web site.

The protesters insist the temple would be too close to their homes and could generate excessive noise and traffic, which would disrupt their concentration during Muslim prayers they ludicrously claimed.

Cow Head Protest

Based on article from

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has criticised the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over its request to online news portal, Malaysiakini to take down videos related to a controversial protest against the relocation of a temple in Shah Alam, close to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

CIJ executive director Gayathry Venkiteswaran said the request was unwarranted as it is an attempt by the government body to silence the messenger, in this case the media, from reporting news.

She was referring to the letter sent to Malaysiakini by the MCMC requesting it to remove two videos from its website. One of the videos was a footage from the protest where a group of residents, mainly Malay Muslim dragged a severed cow head to the premise of the state government office to protest the relocation of a Hindu temple to their residential area on 28 August. Cows are generally regarded with respect by most Hindu devotees.

Despite the action, there was no immediate police investigation into the protest, which civil society groups condemned as legitimising violence and hatred. In the last week, the Home Minister has come out in defense of the protestors and even described them as victims in the issue. The Prime Minister has come out more strongly against the actions of the protestors and the authorities have promised to investigate the matter. The Home Minister's statement was made in an environment where activists, critics and opposition political parties have very little space for expression as the media is overwhelmingly controlled by the ruling government and where their public demonstrations have been met with heavy-handed tactics by the state.

Update: Cow Head Protestors charged with sedition

11th September 2009. Based on article from

Six Malaysian Muslims have been charged with sedition for parading the severed head of a cow through the streets of Shah Alam in Selangor state last month. The men were protesting against the building of a Hindu temple near a mosque in the area. Some of the demonstrators stamped and spat on the cow's head.

The case has stoked tensions between Malaysia's Muslim majority and the Indian, mainly Hindu, minority to whom cows are considered sacred.

Twelve of the protesters were charged with illegal assembly, which could see them fined and jailed for up to a year.

Six were also charged with sedition - for promoting hostility between different groups - and could face an additional three years in jail.

Defence lawyer Salehuddin Saidin said his clients were carrying the cow head to illustrate the state government's stupidity - and did not intend to offend local Hindus: For Malays, the cow symbolises stupidity, not an insult to any other religion, Salehuddin claimed.

The authorities in Selangor have now found an alternative site for the Hindu temple, further away from the mosque.

Update: Reporters without Borders supports

25th September 2009. From

Reporters Without Borders has pledged its backing to independent news website Malaysiakini which has decided to resist an order to remove two news videos judged to be offensive by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

The commission told the website in a letter on 3 September that it considered the two film clips offensive and intended to upset people, and particularly the Indians . The penalty for refusing to comply is a fine of 50,000 ringgit (14,325 dollars) and one year in prison.

The website had posted two video clips accessible only to subscribers to the site, the first on 28 August showing demonstrations by Malay Muslims against the building of a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood, in which they spat on and trampled the bloodied head of a cow, an animal sacred to Hindus. The second, on 2 September 2009, featured interior minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, speaking at a press conference at which he urged demonstrators not to use violence, while defending their right to protest.

But in a change of stance, on 3 September, the minister ordered proceedings against the demonstrators. The removal order was made under the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1988 banning all content that is indecent, obscene, false, threatening or offensive with the intention or harming, abusing, threatening or harassing a third party .

The Malaysiakini website is right to resist the censorship the government is trying to impose on it. The authorities should understand that it is footage that shows something that happened, which may indeed be embarrassing for some authorities but does not constitute an offence , the worldwide press freedom organisation said.


23rd September   

Update: More Trouble in Thailand...

Big Trouble in Thailand programme maker flees to the UK
Link Here

A British producer cameraman has had to flee Thailand after filming a sequence in which British Royal Marines were held at gunpoint by Thai mafia after hiring a Jet Ski on a Phuket beach.

The cameraman Gavin Hill was today back in London, after fleeing Bangkok, as his Thai crew faced up to a year in jail. They stand accused of assisting in the filming of a sequence which could damage the country's image .

A battle with the Thai authorities has raged for two weeks. Hill said : I've made a tactical withdrawal and am in London to discuss how we can help our Thai colleagues. But yes, I did not wish to argue my case from prison.

We filmed the mafia but suddenly we are the criminals apparently. The atmosphere is a little bit hysterical. The Marines are behind me thank god.


23rd September   

Portrait of a Censor...

Philippines censors demand removal of president's portrait
Link Here

A scene showing the picture of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the wall of a military office nearly earned a ban for an upcoming film about forced disappearances and human rights violations in the Philippines.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) approved the commercial run of Dukot, giving it an R-18 rating, after director Joel Lamangan agreed to cover Ms Arroyo's portrait, the Inquirer reported.

It was a struggle, Lamangan said in a phone interview: Both the MTRCB and the producers came up with a compromise that was acceptable to both parties. We only removed the close-up shot of President Macapagal-Arroyo's photo, but we retained her photos in the other shots.

Before it was covered using special effects, the President's picture could be seen mounted on the wall behind the desk of a military commander who was dealing with families looking for missing relatives.

The movie can still deliver its message even without the picture. The time frame is still clear that it's current, Dukot producer Dennis Evangelista said. There's also a [caption] showing that the story happened in 2005 (or during the Arroyo administration).

In a text message to the Inquirer, MTRCB Chair Consoliza Laguardia relayed what she said was a statement by one of the reviewers of the film: There was a compromise with the producer and the director because they agreed to cover the photo of President Arroyo in a close-up scene [where] parents of missing students were appealing to [an] Army colonel.


21st September   

Update: Unconditional Cinema...

Taiwan to show The 10 Conditions of Love despite Chinese opposition
Link Here
Full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

A documentary about exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer is to be shown in Taiwan's second city, despite opposition from China.

A spokesman from Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office said it opposed the screening and urged the city not to stir up trouble in cross-strait ties, Xinhua news agency reported.

Businesses had urged the city to cancel the screening, fearing repercussions. Local tourism officials had spoken out against the move, Taiwanese media reported, fearing it would drive Chinese tourist numbers down.

But local officials said the film would be shown this week, not during a festival next month as originally planned. Officials in Kaohsiung said that they would show the documentary, The 10 Conditions of Love , four times in the coming week.

To draw the curtains over this controversy as soon as possible, the film will be screened ahead of schedule, the city said in a statement.


19th September   

Update: Bigger Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thai authorities to prosecute TV company for revealing Phuket scams
Link Here

The Thai television company responsible for producing the Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand series, which featured footage of an alleged jet-ski scam on Phuket, is to be prosecuted, the Bangkok Post has reported.

The managers of Black Sheep Productions, which produced the show, could face 12 months in jail and fines of up to a million baht (£18,000), the report said.

The first episode of the series showed a Patong jet-ski operator, Winai ‘JJ' Naiman, extracting 35,000 baht (£630) from a group of British Royal Navy Marines in compensation for ‘damage' to one of his vehicles. At one point, Winai was shown holding an air rifle as he argued aggressively with the men, who denied damaging the jet-ski.

As well as being broadcast on British TV, the show has been uploaded to YouTube, causing uproar among those who say jet-ski scamming is rife on Phuket's beaches.

In today's Bangkok Post report, Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office, is quoted as saying those responsible for the show had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by failing to submit the footage to the Tourism and Sports Ministry for approval before its broadcast abroad.

Director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, Seksan Nakawong, reportedly said the film-makers had violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film damaging to Thailand's reputation.

Gavin Hill, the British producer of the series, denies the allegations, saying the show was neither fake nor stage-managed.

Meetings at Patong Municipality offices are ongoing with the aim to hammer out details of a compulsory insurance scheme for the island's jet-ski industry. It is hoped such a scheme will put a stop to rip-offs and disputes on the island's beaches.


15th September   

Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thailand tries to stop Bravo TV series highlighting tourist scams in Thailand
Link Here

The  second episode in the controversial Big Trouble in Tourist Thailan d television series has just been broadcast in Britain on Bravo - but Thai authorities are now trying to prevent the rest of the eight-part series from being completed.

Producer-director Gavin Hill says the Thailand Film Office has sent a letter asking the British production company, Bravo, not to screen any more episodes.

Episode Three, being edited in Britain, is in rough-cut form. The show can only go on with permission from all the people shown on-screen. That includes Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, the now-notorious Phuket jet-ski operator, who signed a release form so that his actions could be displayed to viewers with his approval.

Hill said tonight's second episode does not reflect badly on Thailand. That was never the intention of Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand, he added.

I don't know what's going to happen now with the series, he said. The Thailand Film Office has 'pulled all the releases and permissions that are required to complete the series. He has been told there is the likelihood of a complaint being made to the British embassy. At least one volunteer expat tourist policeman in Pattaya had also expressed concern.

In some ways, it's very positive for Thailand, he said: The young lady who was in trouble on Koh Phangan in the first episode is fined 50 pounds, she gets her bail money back, and she is allowed to go, with the only real penalty being an extra three weeks in Thailand.

By coincidence, authorities on Koh Phangan have announced a plan to make the island, noted for expat full moon rave parties, drug-free as fast as possible.

Episode One of Big Trouble screened last week, revealing footage of what appeared to be an extortion bid by ''JJ'' with a gun in hand, and it came just before a planned summit on jet-ski scams on Phuket. The Jet Ski operators demand enormous compensation for unlikely damage to the jetski.

Nationwide, crackdowns are underway on crimes against tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as part of a push against corruption by the Prime Minister.

The jet-ski crackdown on Phuket came after the Deputy PM met with the Australian ambassador. Other ambassadors later echoed their increasing concerns about jet-ski scams to the Phuket Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob.


14th September   

Socio-cultural Censorial Values...

Malaysian government rewriting film censorship rules
Link Here

New guidelines by Malaysian film censors will supposedly allow movie producers more flexibility and freedom, without having to compromise on issues related to security, racial and religious harmony and socio-cultural values.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam said a draft has been prepared and was being studied by film producers and script writers for their views and suggestions on how the new guidelines should be shaped: What is special is that the guidelines are drawn with the participation of industry players, authorities and other interested parties. However, we expect them to abide by the rules, because they are the ones who had a hand in laying them down.

He said the guidelines revolved around security and public order, religion, and socio-cultural and ethics values. For example, Mahmood said, while it would not be an outright no-no for film producers to have a story-line based on religion, it should not portray one religion as better than the other.

Crime and criminals can be highlighted, but not in a way that will encourage the audience to consider committing a crime. Likewise, some harsh language may help enhance the dialogue of a film, but not extreme profanity and vulgarity.

Mahmood added that the film producers and script writers had about a month to study the draft guidelines, after which another meeting would be convened for their feedback and ideas.


13th September   

Update: Chinese Given a Lesson in Democracy...

Chinese attempt to bully Frankfurt Book Fair
Link Here
Full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Two Chinese dissidents caused a furore when they addressed a symposium ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair, causing much of the Chinese delegation to walk out. The Chinese delegates only returned after the book fair's director Juergen Boos apologized.

Bei Ling and Dai Qing travelled to Frankfurt although their invitations to the China Symposium as guests of the book fair had been revoked after pressure from Beijing.

China's former ambassador to Germany, Mei Zhaorong, said they felt unfairly treated: We didn't come for a lesson on democracy, these times are over, Mei said from the podium, adding that Dai Qing and Bei Ling were welcome to participate in the discussion but did not represent China's 1.3 billion citizens.

Beijing had objected to the pair being invited to the forum, being held in the run-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where China is guest of honour. The revocation of the dissidents' invitations triggered fierce criticism in Germany, where the organizers were accused of bowing to China's censorship.


12th September   

Hear No Evil...

Chinese internet censors turn their attention to foreign music
Link Here

China has announced that all songs posted on music websites must receive prior approval and foreign lyrics must be translated into Chinese, in a new push to control online content.

The culture ministry says the rules are designed to step up regulation of the Internet, curb rampant piracy and protect intellectual property rights.

The official Global Times said that music providers would have to submit songs for approval by December 31, at which date the new rules go into effect.

In a statement sent to AFP, the ministry said the rules were necessary to regulate the transmission of cultural information, guarantee the safety of the nation's culture, and regulate public ethics.

The rules are an extension of requirements already in place for the offline music industry, which has to submit foreign albums to the government for prior approval.

According to the ministry's guidelines, the rules also aim to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, and to increase the market share of legal businesses and legal music products.

Online music providers will be required to get a special licence from the culture ministry.

A culture ministry spokesman said content generated by Internet users -- including songs composed, recorded or uploaded by individuals -- would not have to go through the censorship process.


12th September   

Balibo Hullabaloo...

Indonesia not impressed by movie about reporters who were murdered to cover up invasion of East Timor
Link Here
Full story: Balibo...Indonesia bans movie about jounalist deaths

The Indonesian Government says it finds the new Australian film about the Balibo Five newsmen offensive but it's up to the country's censors to decide if it should be banned.

Indonesia's military has urged the country's censorship board, the LSF, to ban Balibo , which depicts Indonesian soldiers brutally murdering five Australia-based newsmen in the East Timor border town in 1975.

Foreign affairs ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah today said he believed the film, which is in the running to be shown at the next Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFF), was offensive: I don't think rational people would like to see such an offensive movie shown in our country, because it only opens the old wounds. And it won't be good for the interests of the Indonesian people.

Faizasyah said the film, which contradicts the official Indonesian explanation that the journalists were accidentally killed in crossfire, could spark confusion.

Indonesian debate about the film follows the Australian Federal Police's (AFP) announcement this week that it will conduct a formal war crimes investigation into the Balibo killings. The decision has reignited diplomatic tensions between Australia and Indonesia, which believes the case should remain closed. The AFP probe comes almost two years after a coronial inquest concluded Indonesian forces deliberately killed the journalists to cover up their invasion of East Timor.

Update: Special Censor Team

18th November 2009.  Based on article from

Indonesian censors have formed a special team to decide whether to allow the politically sensitive Australian movie about the Balibo Five to be shown in the country.

The Indonesian government has declared Robert Connolly's Balibo offensive and the Indonesian military has urged the country's censorship board, the LSF, to ban it.

The movie depicts Indonesian soldiers brutally murdering five Australia-based newsmen in the East Timor border town in 1975. It contradicts the official Indonesian explanation they were killed in crossfire.

The organisers of the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFF), which kicks off next month, want to show the movie despite the possible controversy it could generate. They have submitted the movie to the LSF, which has formed a special team to decide whether the thriller is too politically sensitive for Indonesian audiences.


11th September   

Update: New Censor on the Blog...

Vietnamese Administration Agency for Radio, Television and Electronics Information
Link Here
Full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

In response to the fast growing citizen journalist movement, the Vietnamese government launched a new entity (Administration Agency for Radio, Television and Electronics Information) and decree to restrict Internet freedom, censor private blogs, and compel information technology companies to cooperate with authorities.

Since the end of last year, authorities in Vietnam have taken further steps to restrict freedom of expression by unleashing a systematic campaign against bloggers and internet activists. At least 15 bloggers have been arrested and harassed since September 2008.


10th September   

Morally Conservative...

New censorial film bill passes Indonesia's House of Representatives
Link Here

Indonesia's House of Representatives passed a film bill on Sept. 8. This came as a surprise to many in the film industry, since the Film Law was drafted without any prior consultation with active producers, directors and other relevant parties.

The film bill will do the same for movies that the Pornography Law has done for culture in general: delegitimize diversity and liberalism and give legal ammunition to moral conservatives. Unspecified restrictions will be placed on the depiction of drug use, sexual content and other controversial topics.

The use of a media influence model, which treats the audience as cultural dupes in need of protection from unsavory images, remains the central paradigm of this new bill. It seeks to control film making so as to limit its scope of creative inquiry and representation. It is patronizing to both filmmakers and audiences and assumes they have no moral responsibility in what they make or watch.

This law gives greater legal authority to those who find content objectionable. It seeks to circumscribe the limits of what can and cannot be filmed in order to preempt potential protest and thus avoid situations in which the state would have to deliberate. Instead of protecting film and the dialogue it can open, it seeks to limit what a filmmaker can imagine on screen.

The draft contains some progressive articles on film censorship (that the Censorship Board will no longer cut films but provide recommendations to filmmakers to cut the film themselves and the implementation of a film classification system) but the regulations governing the film business read as they did under the New Order. A dangerous re-bureaucratization of film making is proposed, stipulating prior approval for films titles and scripts, permission for importing and exporting film, and the compulsory registration of all film making activities. Compulsory written contracts will formalize the relationship between the film industry and the Ministry.

Import quotas and minimum screen time allocation for local productions (50%; Article 32) seem good on paper, but the lesson of this flawed policy should have been learnt long ago. Local productions have achieved a 55% market share without the help of a screen time obligation. Any system of quotas, either on imports or screen time, will adversely affect audiences, who will have less choice at the cinema and will logically turn to other sources of entertainment.

The most glaring absence from this law is the lack of state support for the film industry. Provisions are provided for compulsory archiving of material, and the government would continue to promote Indonesian films overseas. But there is no concrete institutional support that would strengthen or even sustain the film industry, either in terms of reaching audiences who do not have access to Indonesian films, subsidizing film production, establishing facilities that would help the industry or promoting film literacy. The only institution that is strengthened is the censorship board.

The government cannot have it both ways. It cannot hope that film will become a vital and productive cultural domain while at the time treating it as a cultural threat and thus subjecting it to a disproportionate amount of control. If this law is pushed through it will be a victory for reactionary politics and a severe defeat to a film industry that has worked so hard to recover from financial and cultural restraints.


9th September   

Update: Bruno Gets Hard...

Bruno a wind up in Hong Kong
Link Here
Full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

A promotional poster for Bruno has been deemed too risque by an advertising agency that banned the ads from the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway system.

The comedy and all its promotional material had been approved by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, Hong Kong's ratings administrator, with the film rated Category III (restricted to people over 18) and the advertising material rated Category I, suitable for all ages.

The ad agency has taken offense at a term in the film's translated Chinese title, a pun that means both definitely deceive and make hard in Chinese.

It's standard practice for us to censor the advertising materials when we receive them, even after they've been approved by TELA. We're uncomfortable with the wordings, and are concerned that it might affect the passengers, so we decided to reject the ad, Amy Chan, deputy managing director of JCDecaux told The Hollywood Reporter. The admittedly conservative agency has asked the film's distributor, Panorama, to change the wording, a request the distributor refused to accept.


9th September   

Update: No Censorship, Only Measures Against Immorality...

Malaysian politicians continue to assert that they will not censor the internet
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

The Malaysian government claimed that it efforts to enhance legal provisions and policies to deal with illegal and immoral activities on the Internet will not lead to the removal of provisions under laws ensuring no censorship of the Web.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Internet had given rise to cyber-threats which were a real concern to the nation due to the illegal and immoral activities in cyberspace and the Government was forced to look at ways to curb such activities: Nevertheless, as we know freedom of speech is not absolute, it must come with responsibility, (because) what is illegal and immoral should be the same for both the online and offline environment, he told reporters.

He said the Bill of guarantees and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 provide for no censorship of the Internet and this would be maintained.


8th September   

Gambling with Freedom...

Thailand to punish ISPs who don't implement the extensive blocking list
Link Here

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Censorship Technology (MICT) is seeking more cooperation from relevant agencies and business groups to prevent supposedly inappropriate content on the internet.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) says the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) is authorized to withdraw or suspend the licenses of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who do not cooperate in blocking inappropriate web pages.

On 3 Sept, Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee, spoke at a seminar on blocking inappropriate and illegal websites, saying that the Ministry would work more closely with the NTC which has the authority to provide licenses to ISPs and providers of internet gateway service.

The MICT alone cannot handle the blocking of the websites, because there must be various agencies working together and inappropriate websites, including those which are subversive to national security or the Nation, Religion and King, quickly spread on the internet. the Minister said.

According to Ranongrak, the MICT has set up the Operations Centre to Monitor the Threat of IT Crimes. The MICT is also seeking cooperation from about 100 companies which provide internet-related services, the Thai Internet Association, the Thai Webmasters Association, the NTC, the police and the DSI to monitor and block supposedly inappropriate or illegal websites.

The seminar was attended by about 180 representatives of these companies and agencies.

Pol Col Suchart Wonganantachai, Deputy Director-General of the DSI and chair of the committee overseeing the blocking of websites, said that currently the most dangerous were gambling websites which were the most easily accessible. He called for cooperation from all parties, especially the NTC which he said is authorized to revoke or suspend the licenses of internet-related service providers.

Pol Col Suchart said that to deal with inappropriate websites a filtering system must be in place, which required a budget of about 100 million baht. The filtering system is already in place in the US and Israel. The DSI is now developing such a device, but the details cannot be revealed for now. He believed that the device would improve the effectiveness of the blocking by 90%.

So far the MICT has blocked 18,390 web pages of which 10,578 are considered as affecting national security, 7,690 contain pornographic content, 50 advertise drugs, and 72 offer gambling services.


7th September   

Update: Smoked Out...

Indonesia looks to stub out smoking in movies
Link Here

The National Commission for Child Protection said that politicians had to ban the advertising of cigarette in movies in Indonesia

We demand that the House of Representatives insert an article in the bill on films banning cigarette promotions in movies, said Muhammad Joni, the vice chairman of the Commission. The Commission said the bill must forbid cigarette companies from sponsoring the production of films, ban scenes where actors are shown smoking and prevent companies from marketing tobacco brands in the film.

Observers have speculated that the reason Indonesia has not devised a law banning cigarette ads or promotions could be that tobacco companies pay millions of rupiah in tax every year. The government has issued a regulation banning cigarette ads at sporting events and during certain hours in electronic media, like television.


3rd September   

Update: Peas Peace...

Malaysia unbans muslims from Black Eye Peas gig over Guinness sponsorship
Link Here
Full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

The Malaysian government has reversed a ban on Muslims attending a concert by the Black Eyed Peas in Kuala Lumpur.

Officials had imposed the ban because the show is being sponsored by Irish beer giant Guinness.

A culture ministry official said the ban was lifted late last week but did not give any further details as to why.

Government regulations forbid alcohol firms from organising public concerts, but the Black Eyed Peas gig had been allowed in order to boost tourism.

Muslims account for nearly 60% of Malaysia's 27 million people and they are barred from consuming alcohol under threat of a jail, a fine and a caning. This applies also to muslim visitors from other countries.


28th August   

Update: Freedom Gets a Black Eye...

Malaysia bans muslims from Black Eye Peas gig over Guinness sponsorship
Link Here
Full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

Malaysian Muslims will not be allowed to attend a concert in Kuala Lumpur next month by US hip-hop stars the Black Eyed Peas , officials say.

The ban is over the show's sponsorship by Irish beer giant Guinness, as part of its 250th anniversary celebrations.

Guinness will not be allowed to sell its famous black stout at the event or use its logo in publicity material.

Malaysia's majority Malays are subject to Islamic laws, while the large Chinese and Indian minorities are not.

The website for the Black Eyed Peas' event asks: Are you a non-Muslim aged 18 years and above? , and bars access if the answer is no.

Previous pop concerts, including one by the Black Eyed Peas in 2007, have been open to Muslims.

Officials at the Culture Ministry said the show would not normally have been approved because of the connection with alcohol, but ministers let it go ahead in the hope that it would boost tourism, says the BBC's Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur.


28th August   

No Fun in Malaysia...

Malaysia seizes topical cartoon magazine
Link Here

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are concerned about the confiscation of hundreds of copies of a cartoon magazine on current issues edited by prominent cartoonist Zunar. The confiscation smacks of harassment and censorship of discussion of current issues.

On 25 August 2009, officials from the Control of Publication Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs seized copies of the inaugural issues of Gedung Kartun (Cartoon Store) from the publisher's office in Kuala Lumpur. According to the magazine's editor-in-chief, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, more than 400 copies were seized.

When contacted by CIJ, the department's assistant secretary, Abdul Razak Abdul Latif, said the magazine was confiscated primarily due to the lack of a publication permit as well as for content checking.

The confiscation is a form of harassment against those who publish alternative interpretations of current events. Zunar is a long time contributor to the online news site and is well-known for his political cartoons.

Update: Prosecution

10th October 2009. See article from

The government's decision to prosecute the company that published the new cartoon magazine Gedung Kartun for not having a permit is a setback for press freedom in Malaysia. The decision was announced by Jamilah Taib, the head of the interior ministry's communication unit. The company insists it did get a verbal go-ahead.

We urge the interior ministry to reverse its ban on Gedung Kartun, Reporters Without Borders said. It is regrettable that the authorities reacted to its appearance by confiscating copies and threatening the publishers with prosecution. The government should allow cartoonists to express themselves freely on social and political issues. This ban is a grave act of censorship.

Gedung Kartun's publisher and editor, known as Zunar, told Reporters Without Borders: I did not get a reply from the ministry about the licence. I want to continue publishing this cartoon magazine even if we have to change its name. I want to promote a cartoon culture, which is new in Malaysia. Zunar added: People continue to come to me to buy the magazine. We printed 15,000 copies? [The authorities] are afraid of cartoons because they are independent and reach out to all generations. As we are not an opposition publication, it scares them.

The interior ministry said Zunar's company, Sepakat Efektif, would be prosecuted under  the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 for publication without a licence. As its owner, Zunar faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 20 million rupees.


26th August   

Update: No Borderline Blocking...

New Zealand internet filtering commendably limited to child abuse images
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is inviting public input on its draft code of practice for blocking objectionable websites that host child sexual abuse images. The code is now available on the Department's website and will be open to public comment until 28 September 2009.

The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System will be available voluntarily to Internet service providers (ISPs) in the next two months. It will focus solely on websites offering clearly objectionable images of child sexual abuse, which is a serious offence for anyone in New Zealand to access.

Internal Affairs, Deputy Secretary, Keith Manch, said the filter will be operated by the Department in partnership with ISPs: The code of practice provides assurance that only website pages containing images of child sexual abuse will be filtered and the privacy of ISP customers is maintained. The filter will not cover e-mail, file sharing or borderline material.

The filtering list of over 7000 objectionable websites will be retained at the Department of Internal Affairs. The list will be reviewed manually monthly to ensure that it is up to date and that the possibility of false positives is removed.

The Department is committed to transparency and considers that continued public support for the filtering system requires the operation to be as open to scrutiny as possible. An independent reference group will also be established to ensure the system is operated with integrity and adheres to the principles set down in the code of practice.

Joining the filtering programme is voluntary and if any ISP subsequently is unhappy it will be able to withdraw.

Update: DIA Report on Internet Filter Test

6th October 2009.  See article from

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) have released to me their report [PDF] on the testing of the Internet Filtering system.

In summary, it's already nearing capacity in testing, and it's filtering 39.9 million requests per month that don't need blocking. This, on top of the fact that it doesn't stop any of the real traffic anyway. Smells like success to me :(


26th August   

Grave Insult...

Michael Learns to destroy the morals of Malaysia's idle people
Link Here

Malaysia's opposition Islamic party have protested against a pop band's upcoming concert, branding it a grave insult to Muslims who are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

The youth wing of the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) slammed the government for approving the concert by Danish band Michael Learns to Rock scheduled for Sept. 5.

This concert will certainly bring idle people out and destroy their morals, PAS Youth chief, Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, said in a statement.


14th August   

Update: Walling in US Hosted Sites...

Chinese internet censors close down US hosted adult service with 12 million members
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Jiangsu province authorities have shut down one of the largest online adult companies in the country in its ongoing obscenity crackdown.

The Dikamin “league” has 13 adult websites that service more than 12 million registered members, with an additional 10,000 “VIP” recurring memberships.

A league is known as a version of an affiliate program, relying on paid membership for bulletin boards that include content, as well as the ability to share it.

Police said Dikamin and two other Chinese-language online adult programs have servers located in the U.S.

Chinese Authorities also said that it is the first time that a government agency has managed to shut down overseas adult websites. They also arrested 12 employees on Wednesday, as well as the owner — known as Mr. Shen. At one point in time Shen had 300 marketers tending to the websites in China.


14th August   

Update: Damned Nuisance...

Chinese Green Dam internet filter limited to public PCs
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

The Chinese government is scaling back plans for compulsory net filtering for all citizens.

China's minister of industry, information and technology said Green Dam Filtering software would be compulsory for all computers in schools and public internet cafes, but not for individual PCs.

The government originally demanded that all machines should have the software either pre-loaded or at least included in the bundle of software discs included with new PCs. This was meant to start from July but was delayed.

Minister Li Yizhong said it was up to consumers whether or not they installed the software, but it would be required for PCs in public places.


13th August   

Update: Porn's Let Off the Hook...

Malaysia again backs off from internet filtering and seeks alternative law enforcement options
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Dismissing a news report that the government was designing software to block websites, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said that three ministries have been tasked to look into ways to curb the spread of lies and seditious materials on the Internet.

He said that the ministries involved would look at instances of sedition, fraud and child pornography on the Internet to provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary information.

The ministers involved are the Home Minister, Information Communication and Culture Minister and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.


10th August   

Update: Against Good Virtue...

Thailand censors ban 10 movies in the first year of 'classification'
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

A year after the new film-censor law came into effect, ten movies were banned from theatres, including Frontiere , Halloween , Funny Games , Zack and Miri Make a Porno and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane , as they were deemed violent and against good virtue, a senior official at the Culture Ministry revealed.

Director of the misleadingly named Film and Video Classification Office Pradit Prosil also urged movie theatres to apply for operation licences by September or face up to 1 million Baht in fines.

Pradit said that the new Film and Video Act 2008 has been in effect since June 2008 but its five subordinate laws were delayed and had just been all approved by the Cabinet, leading to many problems. However, since it came into effect, ten mostly foreign films were banned from being screened in Thailand because most of them had violent and amoral content, he said. He cited a film about a male house guest who later killed the homeowner as an example that went against the Thai value of gratitude.

Pradit also said the 2008-issued ministerial regulations on theatre licences came into effect from July 27 this year, so operators must apply for a license within 60 days. He warned that those who failed to meet the deadline might be subjected to a fine ranking from Bt200,000 to Bt1 million and a Bt10,000 daily fine until the theatre obtains a licence.


9th August   

Update: Too Much Filth and Violence...

Malaysia doesn't believe in censorship but they are going to impose it anyway
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

There is no need to censor political content on the Internet, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said during his tenure as prime minister, he did not censure information from the Internet and hoped the present Government would keep the status quo.

Dr Mahathir did acknowledge, however, that there is too much filth and violence on the Internet and that it should be vetted by the Government.

But if people are not instigating violence, then it should not be censored, he said, adding that political content, such as blogs and online news portal should not be restricted.

Yesterday, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed that there were plans to develop an Internet filtering system, although only for pornography.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye welcomed the Government's decision to filter pornography on the Internet, saying that pornography could lead to crime and social problems. Lee said if the Government had decided to filter the content on the Internet, it would have received a negative response from the public: Any form of censorship, in this ICT era, will be unpopular as it is contrary to the need for transparency, accountability and the free flow of information .


9th August   

A Censor of Billions...

New deputy at the world's biggest censor
Link Here

China's State Council has formally appointed the censor and producer Zhang Pimin as deputy director of the country's powerful State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). He replaces Lei Yuanliang as deputy director of SARFT, who is retiring.

Zhang moves from a deputy directorship at the Film Bureau where he was known for cutting plenty. He joins Zhao Shi and Tong Gang in senior positions at the censorial body, which is assuming increased importance in China.


8th August   

Update: Damage Control Filters Through...

Malaysian PM quick to deny plan for state internet filtering
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

The Malaysian government have stepped in quickly to deny a plan to impose sate internet filtering.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said there was too much going against filtering, making it ineffective. He said with the ease of information flowing globally, any move to filter Internet access here would only breed public discontent: In this borderless and IT age, information flows freely... the government has no desire to implement Internet filtering.

Najib was commenting on a statement by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who said they were looking at blocking access to pornographic websites.

It had been earlier reported that Rais' ministry was evaluating the possibility of an Internet filter similar to China's Green Dam Youth Escort software.


8th August   

Pontificating about Censorship...

Vietnam blocks international catholic news websites
Link Here

Catholic sites uncovering the persecution against Catholics in Vietnam have become the latest casualties of government censorship.

It has been known that VietCatholic News has long been on top of the list for being blocked from domestic viewers, but recently readers from Vietnam have reported that as of now, the leading sites of Catholics around the world including Asia-News, Catholic Online, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News and Independent Catholic News all have become the latest victims of Vietnam government's censorship.

Vietnam strictly regulates Internet access to its citizens, using both legal and technical means. The collaborative project OpenNet Initiative classifies Vietnam's level of online political censorship to be pervasive while Reporters without Borders considers Vietnam one of 15 internet enemies.

Initially, the majority of blocked websites are specific to Vietnam: those written in Vietnamese or dealing with issues related to Vietnam. Sites not specifically related to Vietnam or only written in English are rarely blocked. However, recently popular Catholic sites in English which with high rate of readership have also been added to the black list along with websites of human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Writers Without Borders, Amnesty International and other right groups to name a few.


7th August   

Update: Ageless Ratings...

Thailand publish film certificate designs
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

The Thai cabinet have approved further regulations concerning film ratings.

Culture Minister Teera Salakpetch said there were seven categories:

  • educational films people are encouraged to see
  • films suitable for the general audience
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 13
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 15
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 18
  • films restricted for persons under 20, age limits enforced by cinemas
  • films banned from being screened in the Kingdom.

Teera also said that the ministry has finished making the six rating symbols and would submit them to the National Committee on Film and Video in mid-August before they are implemented.

The symbols are:

  • Sor (from the Thai word song serm that means "promoted") for educational films people are encouraged to see
  • Thor (from thua pai meaning "general") for films suitable for the general audience
  • " Nor 13+ " (Nor is from naenam meaning "advisory") for films suitable for those over 13
  • Nor 15 +
  • Nor 18+
  • Chor 20+ (Chor is from chapor that means "specific") for films restricted for persons under 20.

The regulations should take effect in mid-August.


6th August   

Update: China gives Malaysia Ideas...

Malaysia considers state internet filtering
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Despite a guarantee of no censorship in Malaysia's 'Multimedia Super Corridor', Datuk Seri Rais Yatim's ministry is evaluating the feasibility of putting an Internet filter blocking undesirable websites — similar to China's aborted Green Dam software. [although that's not really described in the rest of the article]

The study is to be completed by this December and the results will be handed to a shadowy unit monitoring blogs and websites although the decision on implementation will lie with the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Critics say any move to filter the Internet is against the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees apart from being largely ineffective as most Internet surfers can circumvent filters through proxy servers.

The move comes on the back of proposals to register bloggers, most of whom are said to be anti-government, and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition parties to have a larger Internet presence.

According to tender documents seen by The Malaysian Insider, the study will

  • evaluate the readiness and feasibility for the implementation of Internet filter at Internet gateway level, through assessments on the existing infrastructure and existing products in the market.
  • evaluate and estimate costs for the implementation.
  • investigate the existing legal framework in addressing content filtering and no censorship issue, including the impacts that are caused by the implementation to Internet users and the Malaysian economy.


6th August   

Banner News...

New Zealand Deputy Chief Censor reappointed
Link Here

The New Zealand Deputy Chief Censor of Film and Literature Nicola McCully has been reappointed to the role, the Minister of Internal Affairs Nathan Guy has announced.

The reappointment of Ms McCully will retain her significant expertise in the area of censorship and will ensure the continued solid performance of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, said Guy.

McCully was originally appointed as Deputy Chief Censor in 2002. The Office of Film and Literature Classification is an independent Crown entity that examines and classifies publications, including films, videos, books, magazines, sound recordings and computer files.

The Deputy Chief Censor is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The term of appointment is three years commencing 1 August 2009.


5th August   

Bird Brained Censors...

Satirical animation of the Maldives' president censored
Link Here

Mounting political pressure has forced the creators of the satirical Maakana show to remove a caricature of the president, according to the show's producer.

Yamin Rasheed, also managing director of Cellmin animation studio, said only the removal of the president's caricature was requested by VTV, the private broadcaster, which airs the programme. Yamin said he was informed it was to protect the interests of the government.

But, Mohamed Zuhair, press secretary at the president's office, denied the allegation today, saying the president did not support the character's removal: In fact, he told me this morning that he does not have any problem with the show.

The 25-minute animation, which has been broadcast by VTV every Friday at 10pm since 2007, parodies the Maldivian political landscape, comparing the country to a land of birds. It includes caricatures of both incumbent President Mohamed Nasheed and the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as two birds named Ayya and Zaki respectively.


4th August   

Abandoned and Reclaimed...

Jia Pingwa's controversial novel Feidu unbanned in China
Link Here

Jia Pingwa's controversial novel Feidu (often translated as Abandoned Capital ), which caused a sensation upon its Chinese publication in 1993 and was banned the same year, has returned to print after sixteen years during which it was only available in pirated editions.

The official launch, which is technically for a trilogy that includes both Turbulence (1987) and Qin Qiang (2005), will take place in Xi'an on August 8, but the book slipped quietly into stores last week without any advance notice.

The restraint is understandable given the book's troubled history. Its initial publication in 1993 by the Beijing Publishing House was accompanied by a media frenzy that sensationalized the book as a modern Jin Ping Mei, the classic Ming Dynasty novel famed for its explicit sexual passages, and hype ranged from the author's rumored million-yuan advance to a million-copy print run, and from speculation about the nature of the book's deleted passages to the avalanche of bootleg versions that soon appeared in streetside book stalls. Feidu was banned before the year was out.


3rd August   

Update: Bad Habits...

Chinese groups campaign against smoking in Chinese films
Link Here

A group of 40 Chinese film and TV actors have endorsed a move to ban scenes featuring smoking and tobacco products from film and TV programs

The anti-smoking campaign, which would mean any scenes including tobacco consumption would have to be cleared, is being led by the non-governmental Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) and governmental Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Tobacco Control Office.

CATC's research shows that about one third to half of the smoking youth in China began smoking after seeing their idols smoking in films or on TV. The more smoking scenes showed in a program, young people feel more motivated and encouraged to smoke, the research said.

The campaign calls for the authority to strengthen the censorship of smoking scenes and asks actors and celebrities to reject smoking scenes on film or TV.

At present, China's Regulation on Film Management and Script Registration stipulates that scenes excessively showing bad habits such as alcoholism and smoking should be deleted or edited.


31st July   

Update: Whingeing Censors...

Philippines censors get wound up by university showing of banned films
Link Here

The move by the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to stop Thursday's scheduled screening of Kinatay at the UP Film Institute was "not a personal attack" on its director, Brillante Mendoza, said censor chair Marissa Laguardia.

She said it was meant to check the state-run institution's practice of holding public screenings of banned "X"-rated films.

During a press conference on Tuesday night, Laguardia referred to an ongoing case between the board and the UP Film Institute that stemmed from the latter's showing of previously disapproved films like Adolf Alix Jr.'s Aurora , Lav Diaz's Death in the Land of the Encantos and Alejandro Bong Ramos' Butas .

Are they really showing ' Kinatay ' just to professors and critics? How many persons are expected to attend? The UP Film Institute representative we spoke with on Monday failed to answer these questions, Laguardia told Inquirer Entertainment.

She stressed that a film screening attended by at least 50 people is already considered a public exhibition-which makes the movie to be shown subject to classification. Citing the board's rules and regulations, Laguardia added that a movie slapped with an "X" rating is banned from public and commercial exhibition.

As late as Tuesday night, the chief censor noted, Centerstage/Swift Productions, the producers of Kinatay , had not filed a request for review.

Mendoza's movie debuted at the last Cannes International Film Festival in France, where he won the Best Director trophy. The UP screening was to be its local premiere.

Update: Kinatay Passed Uncut

11th August 2009. From

Cannes Film Festival Best Director for 2009 Brillante “Dante” Mendoza received an unexpected bonanza — a regular permit to show his Cannes film Kinatay without cuts in all venues from the MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board). Ironically, the controversial film may just have served as catalyst for the board to rethink its policies.

During the open forum that followed the UP screening, director Dante revealed that during the meeting he requested with MTRCB, he made it clear that he would have his film reviewed but would not allow any cuts on his film and would simply cancel the premiere screening should that be the case. After the MTRCB review, interestingly, he was given the green light. Kinatay is a dark grim look at the underworld where a drug dealer-prostitute is butchered by corrupt cops.

Update: Graphically dismembered

13th August 2009. From

Kinatay . Filipino director Brilliante Mendoza delivered what could be read as a searing indictment of his country's attitude towards women – or you could also see it as an ultra-violent film in which a woman is kidnapped, beaten, tortured, graphically dismembered, her body parts put into plastic bags and shoved on rubbish heaps outside Manila.


30th July   

There's Something Wrong with Warners...

Philippines nutters wound by Orphans film
Link Here

An institution promoting the adoption of orphaned children has asked the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to stop the public showing of Warner Bros.' Orphan because of the film's detrimental message.

The movie Orphan delivers a detrimental message about 'waiting' children in need of a 'forever family'. The trailer was deemed so offensive to some communities in America that the line 'It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own' was removed, the group said in a statement.

Adoptions advocate Kim Michelle Richardson (USA) said the movie's tagline, There is Something Wrong With Esther, should be applied to the production company: There Is Something Wrong With Warner Bros.

Lawyer Gwen Pimentel-Gana, president of the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (Accap), said the group's member- agencies are terribly offended and appalled by the movie's negative story line featuring an orphan little girl character as the villain. Maybe the MTRCB, before allowing movies like these, should be more sensitive to issues that affect the plight of orphaned, abandoned, neglected and dependent children.


29th July   

Chinese Censorship Mafia...

China bans video games featuring mafia gangs
Link Here

China has banned websites featuring or publicizing online games which glamorize mafia gangs, saying violators will be severely punished, state media reported.

The Culture Ministry said such games "advocate obscenity, gambling, or violence," and undermine morality and Chinese traditional culture, the official Xinhua news agency said.

These games encourage people to deceive, loot and kill, and glorify gangsters' lives. It has a bad influence on youngsters, the report said, citing a ministry circular.

In games like Godfather people can play at being hitmen or gangsters, Xinhua said.

The ministry ordered its law enforcement bodies to step up oversight and harshly punish those sites that continue to run such games, it added, without elaborating.


29th July   

Update: Highlights...

Banned films get a film festival showing in the Philippines
Link Here

Controversial and X-rated (banned) films were given a public exhibition because of the Netpac competition of the Cinemalaya film festiva at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) is composed of film critics from all over the world. Among the films vying for the Netpac prize are Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos' Walang Hanggang Paalam and Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Aurora , both rated X by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Meanwhile, a third entry, Bayaw , created a buzz because of its full-frontal male nudity. A fourth Netpac film, Auraeus Solito's Boy , was banned in Singapore because of a long gay love scene as well.

Villaluna said that the film's journey from censorship to the CCP was long and arduous. It makes you realize that filmmaking has become a struggle in this country. It's frustrating ... but we are totally relieved to premiere at the CCP.

Update: Bayaw Banned

31st August 2009. See article from

The indie film Bayaw , was banned (Rated X) when the Movie and Television Review & Classification Board (MTRCB) reviewed it on August 27.

Bayaw will be submitted again to the MTRCB for a second review on September 1. The people behind this production are all hoping that it will be approved for exhibition, with minimal cuts or no cuts at all, in time for its showing. The film, produced by Climax Films and directed by Monti Parungao (Sagwan), is scheduled to open on September 2 in selected theaters nationwide.


27th July   

Updated: The 10 Conditions of Love...

China annoyed by Melbourne Film Festival entry about a Uighur activist
Link Here
Full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

The Chinese Government has stirred more controversy in Australia by demanding that a film about a Chinese Uighur Muslim activist be dropped from the country's largest film festival.

The Cultural Attache at China's Consulate in Melbourne contacted the organisers of the Melbourne Film Festival, and insisted that they drop the documentary about Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled businesswoman and activist whom the Chinese Government blame for last week's riots in restive Xinjiang province.

Richard Moore, the executive director of the film festival told The Times that the attache, Chunmei Chen, demanded he justify his decision to include the film, The 10 Conditions of Love , in the festival.

We had a strident conversation, Moore said: Ms Chen urged me to withdraw the film from the festival and told me I had to justify my actions in programming it. I told her that under no circumstances would I withdraw the film, that I had no reason to do so. I don't need to justify my actions, unless it's in relation to our own sense of morals.

The film tells the story of the relationship between Ms Kadeer, leader of the World Uigher Congress, and her activist husband Sidik Rouzi and explores the effect on her 11 children of her campaign for autonomy for China's Uigher population. Two of Ms Kadeer's sons have been jailed as a result of her actions.

Ms Kadeer is due to speak at the Melbourne Film Festival next month after being invited by the film's producer John Lewis.

Ms Chen said the Chinese were also very unhappy that Rebiya is coming here as a guest, said Moore: She proceeded to list Rebiya's crimes, everything from evading taxes to being a terrorist. It was a real character assassination. To be honest, after a couple of minutes listening to this very detailed list of accusations I phased out. In the end I hung up. I would never normally do that but when you have someone who isn't listening to you and won't stop talking I just said 'I have nothing else to say, goodbye.'

Update: China pulls 2 films in response to refusal to ban 10 Conditions of Love

23rd July 2009. Based on article from

China has withdrawn two films from an Ausrtralian film festival after the event's director refused to ban a documentary about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Two weeks before the Melbourne Film Festival was due to open, director Richard Moore received a phone call from Chen Chun Mei at the Chinese consulate, who asked him to withdraw the film. He refused and politely hung up . Then, on Tuesday, he was notified that two Chinese films were being pulled out of the festival.

Moore claimed the film-makers withdrew their movies after he ignored pressure from Beijing to drop the documentary about Ms Kadeer. He said he believed Beijing had ordered the withdrawal of films Perfect Life and Cry Me a River in an attempt at political intimidation ahead of the August 8 screening: It's hard to draw any other conclusion .

Chow Keung, the Hong Kong-based head of Xstream Pictures, which produced both films, said he had no problem with the screening of 10 Conditions of Love . However, the film-makers had an issue with Ms Kadeer appearing as a festival guest. The group had no links with the Chinese authorities, he told the Australian: We are independent filmmakers. This response is by consensus, and it is very personal. He said he did not blame the Melbourne festival organisers: We respect their programming freedom. But hundreds of ordinary people have just been killed in the conflict in Xinjiang. I know the families of two of the victims, and it offends my sense of morality to appear there alongside (Kadeer) as a guest. I would not be comfortable.

Tickets to 10 Conditions have since sold out and a second screening is being scheduled.

Update: Chinese Hackers Attack Film Festival Website

27th July 2009. Based on article from

Chinese hackers have attacked the website of Australia's biggest film festival over its decision to screen a documentary about the exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer.

Two days after the Melbourne international festival opened, hackers replaced programme information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans and sent spam emails in an attempt to crash the site, according to reports in the Australian press.

We like film but we hate Rebiya Kadeer, one message said, demanding an apology to the Chinese people.

The festival director, Richard Moore, said staff had been bombarded with abusive emails after he rebuffed demands from the Chinese government to drop the film about Kadeer, The 10 Conditions of Love , and cancel her invitation to the festival.

The language has been vile, Moore told the Melbourne Age: It is obviously a concerted campaign to get us because we've refused to comply with the Chinese government's demands.

He said the festival had reported the attacks, which appear to be coming from a Chinese internet protocol address, and was discussing security concerns with Victoria's state police. Private security guards are being hired to protect Kadeer and other patrons at the film's screening on August 8.

Update: Chinese Prove Their Repressive Nature

1st August 2009. From

The artistic director of Brisbane's International Film Festival (BIFF) says she is horrified by the behaviour of the Chinese consulate and the ensuing cyber attacks on the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

I think it is appalling. It is a really strange, inappropriate kind of tactic in a society that has freedom of speech, Anne Demy-Geroe told The Epoch Times.

Ms Demy-Geroe said she is receiving calls from friends in Europe equally horrified at the bullying and stands firmly in the belief that international film festivals have a duty to screen controversial films.


27th July   

Update: Political De-Censorship...

Bill to strip Philippines censors of political censorship powers progresses
Link Here

Philippines House committees on public information and government reorganization has approved a bill stripping the censorship powers of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and limit its function to simple film classification.

The unnumbered substitute measure to House Bills (HB) 2294 and 3854 also seeks to replace MTRCB with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Commission. The proposal was approved on June 3.

Rufus B. Rodriguez, who is with the political opposition, said MTRCB's functions should be revised to veer away the agency from censorship and policing: The new agency must be restricted to classification functions. That is why the use of a proper classification system must be employed .

Under the bill, the new body, which remains under the supervision of the Office of the President, will only review and classify materials.


17th July   

Update: Economising on Free Speech...

Thailand misses another issue of the Economist
Link Here

Distributors blocked the July 4-10 edition of The Economist from entering Thailand for an article that covered the mounting threat of lese majeste complaints to the country's Internet freedom and freedom of expression, according to a local distributor and international news reports. 

This is the third time since December that distributors have opted not to distribute the British weekly newsmagazine because of concerns over its coverage of the monarchy, according to a distributor who spoke on condition of anonymity with CPJ. The Economist has more than 2,500 paid subscribers in Thailand and is also distributed by various newsstands and book stores.

The one-page article, Treason in cyberspace, noted that the scope of investigations under the law has recently widened and that Thai authorities have used the law as justification for blocking more than 8,300 Web pages since March 2008. It also referenced the lese majeste case pending against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, editor of online news site Prachatai, who is charged for allowing a comment critical of Queen Sirikit to be posted by a reader to her site's message board. Because she faces multiple criminal counts for perceived anti-monarchy postings, The Economist reported, she could face as long as 50 years in prison. The article also discussed the lese majeste complaint, filed by a private citizen, against the entire board of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.

Authorities have not formally banned The Economist's distribution in Thailand and the following week's edition of the magazine was available on local newsstands, according to CPJ research.

The growing use of lese majeste charges has had an unmistakable chilling effect on freedom of expression in Thailand, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney: We call on the authorities to amend these laws so that journalists and those who distribute their work are not cowed into self-censorship.


17th July   

Me No Fun...

Hong Kong government unsurprisingly finds that people 'want' internet censorship
Link Here

A Hong Kong survey commissioned by censors claims that citizens in Hong Kong 'want' the government to rein in internet porn.

According to The Standard, the survey was conducted through Hong Kong University for a consultants' report commissioned by the government on the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance.

Of 1,500 people questioned, three-quarters said they want the internet monitored and greater restrictions imposed as well as penalties for violations.

Less than 10% of respondents said the Obscene Articles Tribunal wasn't doing its job properly, while 40% want to see the agency shut down, instead establishing classification parameters.

Some 60 percent said they support the creation of a new independent system, replacing adjudicators with jurors.

One Hong Kong politician, inappropriately named Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, told The Standard she doesn't understand why anyone would protest regulation: Online activities should be supervised like the real-world activities .


17th July   

Update: Political De-Censorship...

Bill to strip Philippines censors of political censorship powers
Link Here

Stressing that it should not be censoring films and TV programs solely because of their critical political or social content, some party-list congressmen are pushing for the abolition of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

In filing House Bill 6425, the lawmakers, led by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, want the MTRCB to be replaced with the Movie and Television Classification Board (MTCB).

Casiño, the bill's principal author, said the measure seeks to protect and promote freedom of expression in motion pictures and television programs in the country – which he said the MTRCB often fail to do. 

The bill will ensure that the right to freedom of expression would not be abridged by replacing the existing Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB), he said in a press statement: The present MTRCB, in the fulfillment of its duties, often violates or curtails this constitutionally guaranteed freedom.

The lawmaker cited the case of some films and television programs, which were censored and rated "X" by the MTRCB due to its critical political or social content.

Casino said the proposed Movie and Television Classification Board Act of 2009" aims to sanction the eventual self-regulation of motion pictures and television programs to lessen, if not prevent, any abuse or discretion on the part of MTCB in the classification of any material.


16th July   

Updated: Internal Affairs to Block External Websites...

New Zealand state internet filtering
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking

I am a member of the InternetNZ and I have just been reading its internal mailing list about the frightening possibility of Internet filtering coming to New Zealand, courtesy of our Department of Internal Affairs.

New Zealand's censorship laws forbid viewing or owning certain types of material (e.g. depictions of bestiality or sex with children) and this applies to material accessed over the internet too.

At this moment New Zealand does not have Internet filtering. However, the Department of Internal Affairs ran a trial internet filtering scheme in conjunction with Ihug, Watchdog, Maxnet and TelstraClear in 2007/2008 and is planning to fully implement it in 2009/2010.

There is now a "Internet Filtering Law". It is being done under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This gives the responsibility for enforcement to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The scheme is currently voluntary for the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as there is no law to force them to use it.

The filter is applied at the level of the IP address but it is common for a web server to host multiple websites on a single IP address. All requests to a website on one of the filtered IP addresses will be diverted to the DIA's server.

ISPs can choose whether to subscribe to it or not. The only way for a person to opt-out of the filtering is by switching to an ISP that doesn't implement it. ISPs that have implemented it so far have not provided a way to opt out of it.

The list of sites is manually compiled by DIA officers. They will update the list monthly and only after the review and agreement of a few officers. Initially they plan to filter any website carrying child abuse related material.

Update: censorship enforcement activity

16th July 2009. Based on article from
See also New Zealand set to join internet blocking club from by John Ozimek

The New Zealand government is spending $150,000 on website filtering software, outraging some bloggers who say the move amounts to censorship of the internet.

Since 2007 the Department of Internal Affairs' Censorship Compliance Unit has worked with a small group of internet service providers on a trial project to block access to websites distributing child pornography.

The project, using hardware and software supplied by a Swedish technology company, thwarts access to more than 7000 websites known to offer child sexual abuse material.

If computer users subscribed to the ISPs involved in the trial - which now include TelstraClear, ihug, Watchdog and Maxnet - attempt to access sites on the DIA's blacklist they are re-directed to a message explaining the site has been blocked.

Until now the DIA's filtering project has been run on a shoestring Budget of $2000 or $3000 a year, but the department won $150,000 in this year's Budget to buy software to expand the system beyond a trial. The money was part of a $661,000 Budget increase for censorship enforcement activity.


16th July   

Update: Virtual Not Private Enough Networks...

Chinese police arrest website operators using foreign hosting
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

In its latest move to crush porn, China has arrested or detained operators of adult sites that use foreign servers.

According to PC World, this latest crackdown follows the arrests of mobile porn website owners in China as well as the government's plan to have all machines sold in the country pre-installed with the controversial Green Dam Youth Escort software.

Police claimed two Chinese porn sites, May Babe and May Erotica , ran on U.S. servers and were updated through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) to avoid detection, according to the state-run Xinhua news service.

Officials said most owners of Chinese porn sites now employ server space abroad to avoid China's web police. It was not stated how the site owners were tracked down.

Police also arrested staff members of a Chinese company that created more than 40 pornographic WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) sites for mobile users, Xinhua said.

Chinese police have also warned third-party payment businesses against providing services for those providing pornographic and lewd material online. The ministry statement referred to one case in which people were arrested for selling porn site memberships to Love City through third-party payments via companies such as AliPay, PayPal and YeePay.


16th July

 Offsite: Copies Better than the Originals...

Link Here
The more Malaysia censors, the more DVD pirates thrive

See article from


13th July   

Censorship Hotspot...

China refuses to allow Wi-Fi capability for iPhones
Link Here

After drawn out negotiations with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple has conceded and filed an application to officially sell its best-selling iPhone without wi-fi connectivity in the mainland.

The Network Access License will allow the company's iPhone to enter the Chinese market and run only on Chinese cellular networks in Beijing's bid to maintain government censorship.

One of the iPhone's selling features was its wi-fi connectivity that allowed users to access the internet and other special iPhone applications from any place with a hotspot connection.

Apple was hell bent on having the iPhone be wifi-enabled, says Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison told Businessweek: The Chinese government has been just as adamant that it not be.”


11th July   

Denial of Censorial Service...

Korean launches internet attack on censor's website
Link Here

A man has been arrested for attacking the Web site of the Korean video game rating board.

Choi the chief executive of an agency that helps computer game software developers get ratings from the Game Rating Board, is accused of buying a hacking program from an accomplice, Yoo, 33, an ethnic Korean in China, for 450,000 won ($351).

Choi based the server in Shanghai and used it to paralyze the homepage of the ratings board, according to the police.

Choi is alleged to have received 10 million won in advance from one game developer for a review rating from the government game rating body. When the process took longer than expected, the developer pressed for a faster settlement. That's when Choi decided to attack the site to make an excuse to his client, according to the police.

Choi procured so-called zombies computers that were then used for a distributed denial-ofservice attack. A DDoS attack generates a large volume of traffic that paralyzes a specific Web site. Choi managed to freeze the Game Rating Board 10 times between March 4 and 22, mobilizing some 7,400 hijacked computers.


10th July   

Dishing up a Ban...

Maldives ban satellite TV receivers
Link Here

The import of Airtel digital satellite receivers to Maldives has been banned, the Islamic Affairs Ministry has said.

Speaking a news conference held by the Ministry, the Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Baaree said that they had been receiving many complaints about the receivers from the public: We've even received a CD of a program that was aired on the channel, he said, adding that the program promoted Christianity.

When asked why the Airtel receivers were being banned while pornography websites and sites that promoted Christianity were still available, the Minister said that dish antennas were different from the internet.

Dish antennas are imported through the Customs, he said: The law prohibits the import of material that can be used to promote and spread illegal religions in the country. We discussed with the authorities whether there was any way we could switch off certain channels or not but they told us that it was not possible. Then we discussed it with the Attorney General and came to this decision. Internet is not made available through the Customs.


4th July   

Update: Hidden Games...

Japanese timetable for an end to Rapelay like game
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

As you're probably all aware, the mess that slowly started spinning with Rapelay is slowly going out of control recently.

A new fax from the Japanese trade association censors, EOCS, has been sent out and as with previous faxes companies are still not allowed to release any of the information for some reason.

  • #New guidelines will start from October, all sales of older rape games will also have to stop, no matter if they're downloadable games or physical package games.
  • The period from 5th June to 31st September will be the changeover period where rape games will still be allowed to a certain extent, and the new restrictions will go full force starting from October. Games released sometime by the end of the year will most likely still be okay as games go through the judging process earlier before the actual release.
  • Shoujo (girl) and school council keywords managed to escape from the list of NG words.
  • Normally big decisions like this would need to be done through official meetings where companies can show their disapproval, but the EOCS is really forcing it in this time, and the person leaking the info suspects the EOCS is under huge pressure for them to be doing something like that. However he does not know if there are any other entities pressuring the EOCS other than the politicians.
  • CSA's regulations will be released next week apparently so some are waiting to see how that goes.
  • 5 companies were talking about quitting the industry.

More of the translated information can be found on:

Online DL shop announces new restrictions
Summary of 26th June conference
Visualarts blocks foreigners too


3rd July   

Update: Green Protest...

Chinese protest against Green Dam internet filter
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

In a rare event for the Chinese capital a group of about a thousand people met for a public but convivial protest against government plans to install the controversial Green Dam filtering software on computers. They were responding to an invitation by Beijing artist Ai Weiwei who called for a day of boycott of the internet.

Recently Chinese authorities decided that all new computers made and sold in the country must contain this filter, ostensibly to fight pornographic or other dirty websites.

But many in China and abroad believe the real motive behind the move is to establish total control over mainland internet users. For this reason there have been many protests.

However, on the eve of its official starting date, Chinese authorities put the web filtering software on hold

For those who came out to protest this was but a short term victory, conscious that the battle against internet censorship must continue.

China's Green Dam internet filtering system will go ahead

Based on article from

China's controversial plan to install Green Dam internet filtering software on all computers will go ahead despite being postponement, a government official told state media today. The official said it was only a matter of time until the software was installed.

An official, speaking anonymously, told China Daily: The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam. It's just a matter of time.

What will happen is that some PC manufacturers will have it included with their PC packages sooner than the others. But there is no definite deadline at the moment.

The official said the delay was necessary because some computer manufacturers needed more time to prepare.


2nd July   

Update: Lost Credibility...

New Zealand Whinges at Australian film certificate
Link Here

Complaints from the public have prompted the chief censor to lift the rating for the film Land of the Lost from PG to M.

Chief censor Bill Hastings said New Zealand automatically adopted G, PG and M ratings from Australia, but the system was not always perfect.

But there is an inbuilt safety valve - if members of the public are concerned about a film's rating they can ask me to review it.

The M label applies to films containing offensive language and sexual references.


2nd July   

Son of a Bitch...

South Korean cartoonist sued over hidden dig at president
Link Here

The South Korean Wonju city government filed a 123-million-won ($100,000) compensation suit against a cartoonist who inserted abusive words about President Lee Myung-bak in its promotional gazette.

The cartoonist, identified only as Choi caused a stir after he drew a cartoon containing the offensive remarks in the June edition of the publication.

In the cartoon, which is supposed to be in honor of Korean Vietnam War veterans, a couple of people bow in front of a monument, but behind them stand two statues with Lee Myung-bak should die , and Lee Myung-bak son of a bitch written on their torsos. The words had been subtly hidden in the form of patterns.

The cartoon somehow passed censorship checks and the magazine was released to the public. The city government later recalled and discarded all copies of the edition.

The cartoon was drawn in such a manipulative way that not many people could notice what was written in the first place. However, the content was so humiliating for not only the head of the state, but all public servants. We will fight for the dignity of the city, the office said.


1st July   

Update: Green Dam Damned...

China declares a delay to the mandatory pre-installation of internet filter
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China has backed down from a plan to install censorship software on all computers sold on the mainland.

A law requiring computer manufacturers to include a program called Green Dam on every PC was delayed just hours before it was due to come into effect.

Green Dam filters the internet and blocks access both to pornography and to politically sensitive content. Researchers also discovered that it is capable of sending reports about an individual's web use back to the authorities.

China retreated in the face of angry and sustained criticism not only from internet users but also from computer manufacturers and trade bodies. In addition, a US company called Solid Oak has filed a lawsuit against the makers of Green Dam, charging them with having stolen the software that makes up the program.

China will delay the mandatory installation of the software on new computers, said Xinhua, the government newswire. The pre-installation was delayed as some computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time, it added.

Damning Report

Based on article from

A trial of the Green Dam program suggested its filters may be of limited use to worried parents.

When the software is installed, and an image scanner activated, it blocks even harmless images of a film poster for cartoon cat Garfield, dishes of flesh-color cooked pork and on one search engine a close-up of film star Johnny Depp's face.

With the image filter off, even though searches with words like nude are blocked, a hunt for adult websites throws up links to soft and hardcore sites.

Green Dam has not detailed how it scans images for obscene content, but computer experts have said it likely uses color and form recognition to zoom in on potential expanses of naked flesh. When too much skin is detected, Green Dam closes all Internet browsers with no warning, sometimes flashing up a notice that the viewer is looking at harmful content.

But the interpretation of obscene is apparently generous enough to include the orange hue of Garfield's fur and, on the highest security settings, prevent viewers clicking through to any illustrated story on one English language news website.

The software also allows users to choose what they want to filter for, and besides adult websites and violence, categories include gay and illegal activities. ay and health activists fear the blanket ban on gay content, in a country where homosexuality is not criminalized, could damage projects including sexual health and Aids education.

Another setting allows Green Dam to take regular snapshots of a user's screen and store them for up to two weeks - ostensibly so parents can monitor computer use by minors.

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