The Philippines Movie And Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has reprimanded two TV shows, one for mocking the disabled, the other for improper display of the Philippine flag.
In an incident report sent to MTRCB Chair Marissa Laguardia, special board agents said there was probable violation in the Feb. 14 episode of the comedy show Banana Split .
According to the report, the show's Pedro Pendukleng segment made a mockery of cross-eyed people .
In another report, MTRCB special agents said there was probable violation of the Flag Law in the March 18 episode of Tayong Dalawa . The report stated: The Philippine flag was displayed vertically, [instead of horizontally] .
Hot scenes which are banned in Vietnamese cinemas still appear on some TV channels, whinged the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They said that some Vietnamese television stations didn't cut such scenes in foreign movies screened
on foreign channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Movie Star.
The scenes asked to be cut by the Ministry's film censorship council when they were introduced at box offices were not cut when they were screened on TV. Some movies that were banned for cinemas were shown on TV.
The audience of HBO in Vietnam might get shocked with very sexy scenes in a movie entitled Tell Me You Love Me. This film is flooded with nude and sex scenes. Many critics said that this movie is like a gentle sex movie.
Why are hot scenes not cut from movies on TV? The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that it is responsible for censoring movies screened at box offices while the Ministry of Information and Communications covers movies on TV. The
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hoang Tuan Anh, said while waiting for the law being amended the two ministries will better combine themselves in movie censorship.
Video images of Chinese police beating Tibetans as they lie trussed-up on the ground may have prompted the country's censors to block access to YouTube, the popular video-sharing website.
The video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile at the weekend quickly made its way on to the site, which has been freely accessible in China since before the Beijing Olympics in August last year.
China has offered no official confirmation that it has blocked the California-based website, or any reason why it might want to bar its people from seeing images available on it.
The first of 3 videos shows paramilitary People's Armed Police storming the Jokhang temple in the heart of Lhasa during a riot in 1988. The police hit out at fleeing maroon-robed monks in Tibet's holiest site, beating one to the floor.
The exiles say that the second clip was shot in or near Lhasa soon after the riot on March 14 last year when Tibetans protesting against Chinese rule rampaged through the city's streets, setting fire to shops and offices and leaving 22 people
dead. Paramilitary security forces are seen dragging Tibetans, including several monks, on the ground after they have been arrested.
Their hands and wrists tied with rope, the Tibetans can be heard moaning as paramilitaries hit them with sticks. One man has his wrist tied over his shoulder to his other hand in an agonising position.
The final part, the most gruesome, shows a Tibetan man identified as Tendar being treated by hospital doctors after he was beaten and tortured for trying to stop a monk being attacked in the 2008 protests.
It may be no coincidence that the blocking of YouTube occurred around the anniversary of the Tibetan unrest. The site was blocked last year from March 15 to 23 — starting the day after the riot in Lhasa.
Acknowledging its embarrassment over worldwide outbreaks of violent, uncontrolled regurgitation, the Japanese government apologized Wednesday to the millions of viewers who have been sickened over the past three decades by the revolting depravity
of the nation's pornographic exports.
The response came after leaders of the world's 20 largest economies signed an accord threatening sanctions against Japan if international distribution of the nauseating materials did not immediately cease.
We honestly had no idea people did not enjoy this stuff, said Cultural Affairs Minister Kazuhiro Nakai, expressing regret for the thousands of hours of bondage porn, rape porn, utensil-rape porn, food-rape porn, frozen-food-rape porn,
vomit-enema porn, elder-care-coma-patient-rape porn, and the kind of a porn in which a nubile youth is kidnapped, stripped, tied down in a wading pool and raped: We are deeply ashamed for whatever it is about these films that has made people
around the world vomit so vigorously. Please know that the content was only intended to entertain and arouse.
The law that created the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) should be evaluated again—or junked altogether.
That was Armida Siguion-Reyna—a former board chair—commenting on the row between the MTRCB and the University of the Philippines over permits for film showings.
Armida said the law is clear: UP doesn't need permits from the board, because both the UP charter and the Constitution protect academic freedom.
Last month, current censors chief Marissa Laguardia sent a letter to UP president Emerlinda Roman, expressing concern over the public and commercial exhibition of films at the UP Film [Institute] that have no corresponding permits.
The fact that tickets are allegedly sold in UP doesn't make the screenings commercial or public, Armida insisted: What if [the organizers] need to raise funds?
Malaysia's government has imposed a ban on two main opposition newspapers, ahead of key political developments.
Harakah and Suara Keadilan have been told they cannot publish for the next three months, with immediate effect.
It comes a week before the expected designation of a new and controversial prime minister, Najib Razak, and two weeks before important by-elections.
Analysts say the government, which has faced strong opposition challenges, is increasingly intolerant of criticism.
This latest suppression underscores the insecurity and fear that Najib and his supporters feel about their political situation, Tian Chua, a spokesman for Suara Keadilan , is quoted by AFP news agency as saying: We fear that this
action by the government is a prelude to a general clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia .
The Malaysian government should stop persecuting six bloggers charged for comments criticizing a Malaysian Sultan, Amnesty International have said.
One of the bloggers has already pleaded guilty and been fined, while the five others face charges in Kuala Lumpur under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
The organization called on the Malaysian government to drop all charges against five of the blockers, and to reverse the conviction of one of the bloggers who pleaded guilty and paid a RM10,000 (US$2700) fine to avoid being imprisoned for five
This development is a serious blow to freedom of expression in Malaysia and has set a very dangerous precedent for people wishing to express their views on the internet, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.
The charges against the six come at a time of heightened tension in Perak State about the role of the monarchy and accusations that the government is trying to shut down discussion about this debate. Malaysia has a rotational monarchy, where the
heads of each of the nine hereditary states occupy the throne for five years.
The internet was one of the few venues available for Malaysians to express their views relatively freely, and now it looks like the government will extend its restrictions on free press to the web, Zarifi said: For a country that claims
to be on the cutting edge of communications technology, this is a very troubling step backward.
Amnesty International said that the use of the Act to convict and charge the six violates the Act's stated objective that it would not be used to censor the internet. Section 3(3) of the Act states that nothing in the Act shall be construed as
permitting the censorship of the Internet.
Update: Two bloggers more added to the charge list
Eight people have been charged with criticizing Malaysia's Sultan of Perak on the internet, as the authorities stepped up a crackdown on the country's bloggers this week.
Businessman Fuad Ariff Abdul Rashid and his lawyer wife, Fatimah Maisurah Abdullah, were charged on Monday with two counts of posting critical comments against the Sultan on the ruler's official website. This followed a nationwide swoop on
bloggers last Friday, which saw six people charged with similar offences.
Amnesty International has called on the Malaysian government to drop all charges against the bloggers.
This development is a serious blow to freedom of expression in Malaysia and has set a very dangerous precedent for people wishing to express their views on the internet, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.
The charges against the eight come at a time of heightened tension in Perak State about the role of the monarchy and accusations that the government is trying to shut down discussion about this debate. Malaysia has a rotational monarchy, where
the heads of each of the nine hereditary states occupy the throne for five years.
The internet was one of the few venues available for Malaysians to express their views relatively freely, and now it looks like the government will extend its restrictions on free press to the web, Sam Zarifi said. For a country that
claims to be on the cutting edge of communications technology, this is a very troubling step backward.
The West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan has warned dancers of the jaipong dance – performed at official ceremonies and cultural festivals – to tone down their erotic moves and hide their underarms to comply with the law.
Islamic parties are also targeting the dance ahead of the April general elections, after parliament passed a controversial anti-porn law in December.
The dance shouldn't be too erotic, Tifatul Sembiring, a senior leader of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party, said: The worry is that once the anti-porn bill is fully implemented, the dance may be banned because it's too erotic.
Outraged and insulted, professional dance groups have called on Indonesians to teach the perpetrators a lesson at the ballot box come April.
What are they talking about? The dancers are all covered up in long-sleeved traditional kebayas, not sexy tubes, Mas Nanu Muda of the Jaipong Care Community, said.
Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, a candidate for presidential elections in July, said the anti-porn law was the most terrible thing in the process of building our nation. He said the law criminalises all works and bodily movements including
music and poetry that could be deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, and offers heavy penalties.
Starting from beginning of June, Burma's Press Scrutiny and Registration Board will digitize its press censorship.
Currently the editors and publishers of print media have to submit the draft copy of their publications in hard copies to the censor. Now this will be changed to digital format by presenting soft copy stored in either CD or memory stick.
In the first stage, the edited draft copies and layouts will be sent back to the journals concerned by printed copies. Later these draft copies will be sent back to the media concerned by email and vice versa, this assessor said.
An editor who usually deals with the censor board viewed this new system of editing and censoring on computers connected by network by the censor board staff will create more manipulations in censorship by rewriting the news and articles as they
Parents who give their underage children access to violent video games should be prosecuted to serve as shock value to other families, says chief censor Bill Hastings.
Laws around video games were an even stricter regime than alcohol , because if an adult gives a child aged under 18 access to a restricted video game even in their own home they are breaking the law, he said.
Hastings told The Dominion Post yesterday that if someone was caught knowingly allowing a child access to restricted video games such as the R-18 Grand Theft Auto series they could be punished by up to three months' imprisonment or a fine of up
to $10,000: They might think the offence is silly, but it ain't.
No-one had yet been prosecuted under the law, but Hastings said there could be merit in a parent being charged: That's what the law says, but . . . you're not going to have police officers in every bedroom ... There would certainly be some
shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game. It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business.
Hastings said parents were often hampered in educating themselves about video-game ratings because of out-of-date legislation, which meant many titles slipped onto New Zealand shelves without a rating.
Although all films and DVDs must be rated, electronic games such as those played on PlayStation or Xbox consoles do not need to go through the classification process unless they have objectionable material, he said.
Hastings said he intended to ask the Internal Affairs Ministry to repeal parts of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, drafted in 1993, so that all video games receive classification.
Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth said he provisionally supported the chief censor's view.
A leading Swiss TV reporter arrested nine days ago has described the defamation action bought against him by a local Aids charity over a documentary made six years ago as bizarre.
Christoph Muller the head of documentary programmes at the German-language SF (Swiss National) TV broadcaster, was arrested and handcuffed on Feb 27 at Suvarnabhumi airport and taken to Bang Lamung police station in Chon Buri.
Muller was held in custody for 24 hours and granted bail after appearing in a Pattaya court. His passport has been confiscated. At the time of his arrest, Muller said he had no clear idea what the charges against him were as the court documents
and arrest warrants were in Thai.
After consulting his lawyers, he learned that a defamation charge had been brought by the charity C.Care Asia International over a documentary aired in Switzerland in December 2002. The documentary, which investigated a Swiss man associated with
the charity, was never shown outside Switzerland, but the defamation complaint was lodged with Chon Buri police on Aug 28, 2005.
The documentary was released on the 6th of December 2002 and you get sued four or five years later? It's bizarre, said Muller.
The offence carries a maximum jail term of two years and a fine of 200,000 baht. Muller, who heads a team producing four-and-a-half hours of programming a week, could be forced to spend up to one year in Thailand while the case is processed.
SF TV described the measures as a 'judicial farce' and 'out of all proportion to his apparent offence' . The authorities have not told Muller exactly why he was arrested, but it appears to have been the result of a 2006 complaint
about a report by Muller in 2002 about a bogus Swiss doctor based in Thailand ... the station said in a statement.
The editor of current affairs, Ueli Haldimann, said: We don't understand the arrest of our head reporter and we demand instantaneous clarification from the Thai authorities. We protest against the method of the arrest. The film Muller made was
only shown in Switzerland. That's why we don't understand why a Thai court stood up the complaint.'
Reporters Without Borders have called on Thai authorities to immediately rescind the order banning him from leaving the country and to return his passport.
On the same day that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a meeting of news editors of his intention to restore Thailand's press freedom reputation, police officials raided the offices and arrested the executive director of a popular online
news site, Prachatai.
Prachatai's executive director Chiranuch Premchaiporn was arrested when a group of five or six Crime Suppression Division police officials entered the Web site's Bangkok offices. Officers also took copies of the hard drives of some of the
office's computers. Chiranuch was later released on bail.
The director was charged under national security-related articles 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for postings apparently critical of the Thai royal family made on one of the site's boards, according to Prachatai. It is unclear if
Chiranuch would also be charged under the country's lese majeste law, which criminalizes any criticism of the royal family. Guilty convictions are punishable with a maximum of 15 years in prison.
We call upon the relevant authorities to immediately cease and desist from harassing all online journalists and commentators like Chiranuch Premchaiporn, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia Program Director : Thailand has unleashed one of the
most aggressive crackdowns on Internet freedom seen anywhere in Asia and we strongly urge them to reverse course.
Prachatai has developed a reputation for independent reporting, particularly through its hard-hitting reports on the conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels in the country's three southernmost provinces. The site was threatened with
closure last year because of comments deemed harmful to the monarchy posted to one of the site's online public forums.
Thailand's first film-rating system will be up and running in May after the Cabinet approved four draft regulations.
Films that authorities deem to offend the monarchy, threaten national security, hamper national unity, insult faiths, disrespect honourable figures, challenge morals or contain explicit sex scenes will be banned from Thai screens.
The ratings are:
General Audiences This category is for films with no sex, abusive language or violence.
13 This category excludes violence, brutality, inhumanity, bad language and indecent gestures.
15 The '13' rules are relaxed slightly.
18 Films can explore the darker side of human nature but must not show scenes of exposed genitalia, crime or drugs.
20 Sex scenes are allowed here but only if viewers don't get a peek of genitalia.
There is an extra category for films that should be promoted on cultural or artistic merit
Thai Film Director Associa-tion chairman Yongyoot Thong-kongtoon said the regulations would give a framework for film directors. One positive side is that it might encourage less low-grade comedies and more movies with substance, he said.
Director and producer Prachya Pinkaew, who sits on the panel that prepared the draft regulations, said he was happy to see the system sail through the Cabinet. The regulations have been dogged by criticism since they were first unveiled.
Representatives of lecturers and students from six Thai universities have asked the print media to be socially more responsible and stop presenting pictures of grisly and violent scenes that can put the public off.
Yubol Benjarongkij, dean of Chulalongkorn's communication arts faculty, said that since the beginning of the year there have been many newspapers, including the market leaders, which have frequently published photographs whose subject matter
included badly burnt victims of the Santika pub fire, bloody crime scenes, dead bodies of accident victims, and the latest, the head of a foreigner dangling from the Rama VIII bridge.
In Thai culture, prior permission from the relatives of the dead is considered necessary, as it is another way of showing respect to the dead.
She said since newspapers were media for all ages, not only for adults, pictures could be worth a thousand words. Too much exposure to such pictures could induce children to imitate violent behaviour, thinking that those crimes and violent scenes
were just normal behaviour.
Udomsak Yoothanaraweesak, a professor at Huachiew Chalermprakiet University, said that more importantly such pictures also reflect the standard of newspapers. He said in the case of a girl who was raped, some newspapers did not publish her
picture but named her parents, school and home address, which made it obvious who the victim was without intention. This made the girl nearly die of embarrassment.
Newspapers as well as other media outlets need to lift their standards and put journalistic ethics before profits, he said.
The Indonesian Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by religious groups, students and a North Sulawesi Province youth organization to review the controversial antipornography law.
However, the rejection was made on trumped technical grounds and a future court hearing was not ruled out.
The plaintiff's demand is unclear, as they are not citing the content of the antipornography law, but instead that of the antipornography bill, judge Akil Mochtar said.
Also the group would have to reconsider grouping themselves under the name of the Ethnic Law Union of North Sulawesi because, Akil said, the group did not meet the requirements to represent the province's ethnic groups.
To add to the group's headache, their legal standing also was questioned by the court: It is not clear whether the plaintiffs have proposed the judicial review as individuals or as representatives of ethnic law, said Abdul Mukthie Fadjar,
another judge. Mukhtie said that if the group claimed itself to be an ethnic law union, it needed to provide written proof from the organizations it named.
Philippines censors at the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board last week banned the indie film Walang Hanggang Paalam, directed by Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos.
Villaluna has described it as a simple love story. The board said it got banned because of a fellatio scene.
Upon learning the news, Villaluna's immediate concern, expressed in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was the expense for a second review. Every MTRCB screening costs P8,250 (€135)
At the recent Film Summit organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Villaluna said the rate should be lowered for the sake of independent filmmakers.
The MTRCB gave an R-18 rating to Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos' Walang Hanggang Paalam on its second screening.
Board chair Marissa Laguardia said the movie's producer submitted a new version of the film without the objectionable scenes. According to the committee report, the fellatio scene was altered and the ejaculation was not shown anymore.
Producer Leo Dominguez confirmed that he and the filmmakers made the cuts.
At the beginning of February, media in China was buzzing about the possibility of a film rating system being put into place sometime this year. Although the story turned out to be incorrect, it still sparked yet another round of debate over the
feasibility of implementing a rating system for mainland cinema.
In a blog post last week, film critic Wei Junzi discussed how Hong Kong's film rating system came about.
Men Behind the Sun , was a notable co-production that depicted the tragic biological experiments conducted by the Japanese invaders on Chinese people. According to Hong Kong media reports in 1988, the film censors
vomited from disgust when they viewed the film and in one swift action, Category III films were born in Hong Kong.
Why was it only in 1988 that Hong Kong started having Category III films? Going back to the beginning, in March 1987, the English-language Asian Wall Street Journal disclosed that there was no legal foundation for Hong Kong film censorship, a
revelation that caused instant controversy throughout the city. Creating a new film screening system, regardless of what it would eventually become, had to be put on the agenda immediately. Therefore the Hong Kong Executive and Legislative
Councils quickly established a task force to deliberate a new Film Censorship Bill that would incorporate a motion picture rating system. On November 10, 1988, the Film Censorship Ordinance went into effect, and from that day forward, Hong Kong
had a three-level film rating system:
Category I (All ages admitted)
Category II (All ages admitted, but the film had to carry the statement, Not suitable for children )
Category III (Persons aged 18 and above).
Subsequently, Hong Kong's film screening became substantially more permissive. Even though this led to the proliferation of films wallowing in sex and violence, at the same time, Hong Kong filmmakers obtained a good deal of
creative freedom, and produced a stream of excellent works that broke through thematic taboos.
In 1995, Hong Kong's film censors changed the "three-level system" into a "four-level system." The main changes were to indicate the degree of nudity, sex, violence, crude language, and frightening
content present, and divided the former Category II into:
Category IIA (Not suitable for children)
Category IIB (Not suitable for children or youth).
It is suggested that the proposed 2 level system for mainland China is
Starting this May, film-rating system will come into effect in Thailand for the first time.
The Cabinet has just approved four draft regulations on the system.
We should be able to enforce the regulations from May onward, Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch said.
Thailand's system will classify films into 5 age groups, plus a category for films that should be promoted on merits of cultures, arts or traditions. And of course there is the ever popular option to ban a film entirely.
Jackie Chan's new movie will not be released in China - because its director Derek Yee has deemed it too violent for the country's cinema-goers.
Chan appears in Shinjuku Incident , a Chinese-language film which stars Chan as a refugee who escapes to Japan and gets embroiled in the local gang culture.
The movie features several gruesome scenes, including one character getting his hand chopped off and being stabbed with knives.
Yee said: We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete. For us, the problem was just the violence.
Shinjuku Incident will be released in Hong Kong and southeast Asia in April, and in Japan in May.
The censoring of dramatic pictures showing the fire that engulfed part of China's state TV headquarters has sparked a furore.
As flames consumed the 44-storey block housing recording studios for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing, the state broadcaster did not cut away from a gala variety show celebrating the final day of the Chinese New Year holiday.
By midnight, with the fire still raging but under control, the station had issued a one-line news item on its website.
It is possible that the blackout was prompted by CCTV's embarrassment at the discovery that its own unauthorised show of fireworks outside the building sparked the blaze.
Citizen journalists have more than made up for the blackout, however, filling the void with pictures taken on camera phones, text messages and e-mails.
One blogger, Wang Xiaofeng, wrote: Even though the fire was up to their eyebrows, they were still trying to hide the truth... in this breaking news, the official media was defeated by the citizen media.
An official directive was sent to the media ordering no photos, video or in-depth reports and requesting they rely only on the version put out by the official Xinhua news agency. Even that notice of censorship was soon posted on the Internet.
The burnt building has always been popularly called the Thing underneath the Big Underpants and so inspired chatroom contributors to digitally edit photos to add giant robots and fire-breathing dragons attacking the broadcaster's landmark
new building. The more irreverent are to be found at chinasmack.com.
Chinese internet users angered by censorship in cyberspace have redressed images of famous nudes in a protest against Beijing's crackdown on vulgar online content.
Images posted include Michelangelo's statue of David - shown in a Mao suit - while black socks and a strategically- placed necktie were added to an image of the artist's depiction of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The protest began last week after a user of a social-networking site, Douban.com, complained that images of several paintings, including Titian's nude, Venus of Urbino , had been deleted from an online photo album. Douban administrators
told the user that posting pornography online would endanger the site's operations.
In response, the organisers of the protest asked Internet users to clothe images in artworks to save them from censors, who have shut down 1,635 websites and 200 blogs in a one-month campaign against content that harms public morality.
The protest had an almost immediate effect. Last Thursday, the Shanghai user whose Renaissance album started the controversy said Douban had allowed images of the deleted paintings to be shown in their original form.
A leading Bangkok-based professor who has joint British and Thai nationality fled Thailand at the weekend in the face of a lengthy sentence under the country's draconian lese-majesty laws, which forbid criticism of the king.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn arrived in England at the weekend after being charged under the laws. He had been due to present himself to the police in Bangkok today and could have faced 15 years in jail if found guilty.
I did not believe I would receive a fair trial, said Ungpakorn, an associate professor of political science at Chulalongkom University and a contributor to the New Statesman and Asian Sentinel.
Ungpakorn is the author of A Coup for the Rich , in which he criticises the 2006 military coup. He said that the charges arose out of eight paragraphs in the first chapter deemed insulting to King Bhumibol. He claimed that the director of
a university bookshop stocking his book had informed the special branch that it insulted the monarchy. The offending paragraphs deal with incidents around the coup.
The English chapter of PEN, the international writers' organisation, has written to Bill Rammell, the UK Foreign Office minister who is due to visit Thailand, urging him to make representations to the Thai government.
Carole Seymour-Jones of PEN said: We remain deeply concerned by the increased use of lese-majesty laws in Thailand. Giles is the second New Statesman contributor to have faced such charges in recent months, the first being the Australian
writer Harry Nicolaides, sentenced to three years in prison on 19 January.
Academics from the UK, India, South Africa, Turkey, France, Greece, Poland, Canada, Australia and other countries have also protested. A group, including Professor Alex Callinicos, Susan George and Dennis Brutus have signed a petition expressing
deep concern. In a letter to the Guardian recently, more than 30 academics urged that charges be dropped.
Previously it was reported that Indonesia's new regressive pornography law was targeting cultural heritage, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan was said to have used it as a legal basis to forbid Jaipong dancers from wearing sexy costumes
and executing provocative dance moves.
The West Java administration's ban has prompted severe criticism from artists and legislators who blast it as a move to curb the traditional arts and culture of local people.
Bandung-born singer and dancer Dewi Gita said she did not see the need for the administration to delve into the matter when there were so many other problems affecting the province, including floods, poverty and expensive education: You see,
Jaipong has nearly vanished. It is our unique heritage and we should do our best to keep it alive. But instead of supporting the internationally recognized dance, the authorities encourage its extinction.
Jaipong has nothing to do with pornography, it's merely a cultural expression. The dance is actually derived from the traditional ketuk tilu dance, which is a way that girls attract boys in Sundanese traditional customs. No wonder, the girl
must be provocative and sexy, she said.
Opposing parties of Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography law vowed to annul the law at a public debate against the ruling party on Friday.
The law, ratified last October by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was met with fierce opposition by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the Prosperous Peace Party and a number of civil rights groups on the grounds that it is a
betrayal to the Balinese, said Nyoman Dhamantra of the Party of Struggle at the debate: With or without a majority, we will overturn the law.
The New Zealand chief censor is calling for online games to be subject to the same regulations as video games and films.
At present the law states only video games with restricted content must be submitted to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.
In a briefing to Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth, chief censor Bill Hastings said the law has to change.
The law hasn't managed to keep up with technology, so it's a loophole that has been created by the law not being able to keep up, he said. Online games should be submitted for classification in New Zealand, he said.
I don't want to downplay the difficulties of the online digital environment because it does create its own challenges and it will get more difficult and more of a challenge as more content goes digital
The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is setting up a filter system that will allow internet service providers to stop people accessing child pornography.
But there are concerns that the power to censor browsing could be abused. The filter system has already been trialled in hundreds of thousands of New Zealand households. Internal Affairs deputy secretary Keith Manch says the voluntary system
blocks access to 7000 websites carrying images of child sexual abuse.
Internet Safety group NetSafe welcomes the move, but says there could be concerns if the department later uses the filter to block a wider variety of websites. Manch says there are no such plans and the filter is only for targeting the sexual
abuse of children. He says the department is finalising its analysis from the trial and will be discussing with internet providers how to implement the system.
At the end of this month, New Zealand's ISPs are required to start disconnecting users accused of infringing copyright multiple times. ISPs are also being asked to start censoring 7,000 Web sites under a government plan to make it harder for
Kiwis to access child pornography over the Internet.
Child pornography restrictions will be extended to the Internet under a program initiated by the Department of Internal Affairs, though it will remain voluntary, according to Radio New Zealand News. The system relies on a blacklist of specific
Web sites, and it has about 7,000 entries at the moment.
The program has already been tested in trials across the country, and ISPs are now looking into implementation details.
New Zealand says it has no current plans to extend the system behind child porn, which sets it apart from neighbouring Australia, where an ambitious (and required) censorship program has the right to block any sort of illegal content.
Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Official Censor of the Military Coup, has blocked at least 17,775 websites which, along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites
blocked in Thailand. Public webboard discussions, circumvention tools, voices from Thailand's Muslim South and critical commentary of Thailand's monarchy were particularly targetted for censorship.
Thailand's military government also passed a Computer-Related Crimes Act with draconian penalties and onerous data retention provisions abnegating privacy and anonymity and chilling public discussion of vital issues among Thais. The result of
this cybercrime law was to criminalise circumvention with one notable exception, the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) relied on by business to create a secure, private, encrypted channel.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has now
provided links to easy tools for private citizens to legally ignore Thailand's Internet censorship. Virtual Private Networks have been complicated to set up and difficult to maintain. However, with these two free, public tools, VPN is
available to everyone.
Thailand's Internet--once open and free--is fast morphing into one of Asia's more censored cyberspaces. But a new group of concerned Thai citizens, known as the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), is bidding to turn back the tide of government censorship
through advocacy and monitoring.
Web sites that have posted materials deemed potentially offensive to the Thai royal family have been blocked by successive military-appointed and democratically elected Thai governments. And the campaign of censorship is accelerating under new
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Beginning last year, a group of academics, activists, journalists and webmasters held informal meetings to discuss the emerging threat to Internet freedom in the wake of the passage of the 2007 Cyber Crime Act and the intensified use of lese
majeste charges against journalists, commentators, and everyday Internet users. Both laws give Thai officials the authority to censor news and opinions that could be deemed a threat to national security or the monarchy.
TNN coalesced into a formal organization soon after several local Web sites, including news and commentary outlets Prachathai and Fah Diew Kan, were threatened with closure last year by officials for posting materials offensive to the monarchy.
Fah Diew Kan's site was eventually blocked in January after officials threatened the site's ISP administrator.
TNN coordinator Supinya Klangnarong told CPJ that the new group's main missions are to keep Thailand's Internet open and free, to monitor government surveillance and censorship, and to provide moral and legal support to Internet users and writers
who encounter harassment for their postings.
Currently, TNN is publicizing the case and arranging legal representation for Suwicha Thakor, an oil-rig engineer who was arrested and held without bail on January 14 for posting materials onto the Internet considered offensive to the monarchy.
They have also taken up the case of BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who faces three different lese majeste complaints filed by a senior Thai police official.
The government in Thailand has set up a special website urging people to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy.
It has also established a war room to co-ordinate the blocking of websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. On its first day of operation the centre banned nearly 5,000 websites. The Ministry of Information had already blocked many thousands of
sites, but that work is now being accelerated by the new centre.
Internet users are being urged to show their loyalty to the king by informing via a new website called protecttheking.net (Thai language), which has been set up by a parliamentary committee. It calls on all citizens to inform on anyone suspected
of insulting or criticising the monarchy.
The new website appears to be part of a concerted effort by the government and its conservative supporters to stifle any debate on the future of the monarchy, before it can gather momentum, our correspondent says.
The committee formalized the Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC), formerly known as the ‘War Room', to monitor inappropriate content on the internet, with officials from the ICT Ministry and other relevant agencies keeping watch 24 hours a
day. A special call centre is being set up for the public to give information on inappropriate websites.
In the ISOC room, staff will be divided into three sections to monitor three categories of inappropriate websites: (1) those which offend the nation, religion, and monarchy, (2) those which affect tradition and culture, such as Hi5, or
advertise abortion pills, and (3) those which provide gambling and dangerous online games such as the GTA game, said the ICT Minister.
According to the minister, the MICT has requested court orders to close or block 4,818 URLs which include 4,683 web pages offensive to the monarchy, 98 pages offering pornography, and 37 pages containing false advertisements.
The MICT and the Ministry of Culture have also been monitoring the postings of pictures of female students with phone numbers for the purpose of prostitution, and have found an increase in online advertisements for abortion pills and sex gear.
Chinese censors at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) have shut down 131 unlicensed video Web sites and penalized a further nine for carrying supposedly pornographic videos as part of its continuing crackdown on
SARFT said that the crackdown, which began on Jan. 5 and will last until the end of February, has also resulted in the country's 307 licensed video Web sites deleting content from their platforms. Among these are Tencent, which has deleted 12,841
videos; Tudou, which has deleted 3,214 videos; PPLive, which has taken down 440 videos; PPStream, which has removed 85 videos; Joy.cn, which has deleted approximately 10,000 videos and posts; 6.cn, which has deleted over 2,300 videos and 2,500
comments; and Funshion, which closed its forum and picture-posting areas.
The increasing censorial Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said that he had instructed the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to crack down on websites, which allow students to post messages soliciting sex clients.
Abhisit said the ministry was taking actions against the sites. He said the prostitution by students was influenced by wrong values so there should be campaigns to have students change their values. He said the government is
launching the campaigns through education as well.
Previously the issue had been identified by colleges and universities who sought action against students found to have engaged in direct-sale prostitution via social-network websites like Hi5.
Assoc Prof Sukhum Chaloeysap of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University said all institutes of higher learning should admit the problem existed and join forces to combat it.
Some students are said to have touted sexual services on Hi5, which has links to more than 1,000 other websites that openly post students' pictures, many in uniform, and suggestive messages. He urged the principals of colleges and universities to
Many students' part-time jobs are affected by the economic slowdown, driving some to prostitution to earn extra money, he said.
He blamed the online student sex trade on youth's faulty values and overspending on luxurious and unnecessary items that drove young people to such lengths to get quick cash. He called for strong families and proactive educational and religious
institutions to counter the trend.
Japanese telco NTT Docomo has banned customers under 18 from accessing mobile internet dating sites.
The sites being banned are not the more dodgy wife-swapping sites either, but conventional blogging and social networking sites. While Mobage-town, Myspace Mobile and Gree have been deemed safe, others have been blocked by NTT Docomo.
It is expected that the move will be followed by outer Japanese telcos. Softbank Mobile has announced that it will start blocking the sites in the first week of February.
Docomo said that customers under 18 must submit an application and proof of age to view sites which are blacklisted.
To avoid blacklisting, site owners have to pay a content monitoring watchdog $5,574.86, have a 24-hour watch system in place and a system to notify police or fire officials in emergencies.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about mounting government threats to media and Internet freedom in Thailand, including legal action against community radio stations and censoring thousands of Web sites.
Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga recently told a parliamentary session that his ministry intends to censor 3,000 to 4,000 Web sites for posting materials considered offensive to the Thai monarchy. The Information Communication and
Technology (ICT) Ministry announced on January 5 that it had shut down 2,300 Web sites for violating the country's strict lese majeste laws.
Piraphan said that he had established 10 different panels to implement the Internet crackdown and that his ministry was working closely with the ICT and Defense ministries. He mentioned in particular that three Thai nationals had been identified
for posting anti-monarchy materials on the Web site Manussaya and that one of the writers has been arrested on lese majeste charges.
Satit Wongnongtaey, a minister in the prime minister's office, proposed taking legal action against five community radio stations he contended were causing unrest through their news reporting. He mentioned specifically the Taxi Lovers Club radio
station situated in Bangkok and four others located in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Udon Thani provinces.
The areas are known to be strongholds of former and now exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, political rival to the now incumbent Democrat Party-led coalition. Satit sent a proposal to investigate the stations for instigating unrest to the
government's Public Relations Department's subcommittee on broadcasting and told reporters that the subcommittee must take quick action against them. He did not specify what form that action might take.
Thailand is headed in the same direction as its historically more authoritarian neighbors--including Myanmar, Vietnam and China--in regards to Internet censorship, said Robert Mahoney, CPJ's deputy director: We call on the country's new
democratic government to quickly reverse this worrying trend and instead work toward re-establishing the country as a regional standard-bearer for free expression.
CPJ recently reviewed a copy of draft legislation signed by Piraphan that intends to expand the censorship powers vested in the controversial 2007 Computer Crime Act. According to the draft amendments, ICT ministry officials would no longer be
required to receive court approval before blocking and censoring Web sites. Thai courts approved the ICT Ministry's earlier blockage of 2,300 Web sites on grounds of lese majeste, but officials have since said that the legal process has slowed
their work in censoring the recent proliferation of anti-monarchy materials posted to the Internet.
On January 27, CPJ sent a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressing its concerns about Thailand's fast deteriorating media climate.
The latest issue of The Economist will be withheld from distribution in Thailand for the third time in two months because of its coverage of the country's monarchy, the magazine said.
The British magazine's Thai distributor, Asia Books, refused to deliver copies of its Jan. 31 issue because the article might break the country's strict law against insulting the royal family, the magazine said in an email to subscribers.
The Jan. 31 issue contains an article, entitled A sad slide backwards, that criticizes Thailand for alleged abuse of Muslim migrants from Myanmar known as the Rohingya.
Their plight gained international attention after several boats carrying around 1,000 migrants were intercepted in December by the Thai navy. Human rights groups allege that Thai officers detained and beat them before forcing them back to sea in
vessels with no engines and little food or water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned. Thai authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.
The article's criticism was largely directed at the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Thai military in its handling of the migrants. It made only passing mention of the taboo subject of royal involvement in Thai politics.
Amir Muhammad's latest documentary film, Malaysian Gods , has been barred from wide release by the censors.
The Malaysia National Film Censorship Board has decided that the 60-minute movie cannot be shown on TV or in cinemas. The board gave no reasons for its decision despite an appeal by Da Huang Pictures which produced the film.
This is not the first time Amir has run into trouble with the authorities for his films about Malaysian history or historical events. Notably, two of his films The Last Communist (2006) and Village People Radio Show (2007) were
banned. Both works deal with the Malayan Communist Party. Because they were banned, both received a fair share of publicity.
The Film Censorship Act 2002 states that the reasons for censorship could include obscenity or material that may be contrary to public interest.
Malaysian Gods is an experimental video, documentary and fiction that backdrops the 1998 Reformasi movement. It conducts interviews in Tamil, with English sub-titles, with Tamil-speaking Malaysians who work or patronise areas in Kuala
Lumpur which were the site of anti-government Reformasi demonstrations.
Describing the censors' decision as quite strange, Amir said he would instead arrange for screenings in other venues. We plan to screen it in many local campuses, he added. And it will be released on DVD later.
Graphic television footage of violent and cruel acts should be banned, a group of angry Thai parents says. Members of the Network of Family Watch and Creative Media are demanding that television stations put a stop to repeated images of horror
that they claim could harm children and instil violent tendencies.
Twenty members of the group submitted an open letter to Thai Broadcast Journalists Association president Korkhet Chanthalertlak urging his association to investigate what the group calls violence-condoning footage.
Campaigner Anya-orn Panichpuengrat said parents were concerned children watching the news would be disturbed by horrific scenes being played and re-played. She said footage aired in recent weeks showing people being beaten and even shot dead
should not have been broadcast. Most of the offending footage was obtained from surveillance cameras. She said ugly scenes were broadcast repeatedly during news segments and it felt as though the violence was never ending.
The campaigners plan to visit television stations to inquire into their reasons for running such footage. Anya-orn said one case involved the shooting to death of a security guard and then a woman by her jealous boyfriend in Prachin Buri. Another
showed a vocational student being gunned down during a fracas connected to inter-school rivalry near Kasetsart University. This week footage of a teenage boy being brutally beaten by a gang of teenagers in Ayutthaya was aired on television
Korkhet said the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association was aware of the potential for problems and would write to television stations to ask for their cooperation in being mindful of the content they broadcast. The association is drafting a code
of ethics for broadcast journalists, he said.
Thailand has been adding more web pages to its extensive blocked list.
On December 4 2008’s official blocklist of 37 are online pharmacies selling morning after pills directed at Thai consumers in Thai.
It looks as if the fundamentalists at the IT ministry, MICT, are making themselves Thailand’s morality police.
January 14, 2009’s MICT blocklist comes as a result of the ministry’s application for court orders to block 408 separate web pages. All blocked pages are videos on video sharing sites.
Most notable is a new video hosted in the Czech Republic, Harry Nicolaides Is a Political Prisoner.
Content previously on YouTube as part of the StopLeseMajeste channel has been diversified to 65 public video-sharing websites, most hosting multiple blocked videos. The sites are located in at least 12 identifiable countries. 25 further YouTube
videos have been blocked as well as 31 YouTube pages in 23 countries. A single page at Google Video is also blocked.
Australia asked Thailand to pardon a writer from Melbourne who received three years in prison for insulting the royal family in three sentences of a novel that sold seven copies.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith made the request in a letter to his Thai counterpart after Harry Nicolaides pleaded guilty this week to defaming the head of state, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his son.
Now that the legal processes before Thailand’s courts have concluded, Australian officials have advised Thai officials that the Australian government strongly supports Mr. Nicolaides’s pardon application, Smith said in a
The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which took power last month after backing a royalist protest group, is cracking down on Web sites that insult the king, a crime punishable by as many as 15 years in prison.
Thailand has received the pardon request from Australia’s government and will process it in a timely manner, Tharit Charungvat, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.
Thailand's Senate has resolved to set up an extraordinary committee to strictly enforce laws in the name of protection of the monarchy following an increasing number of websites found to be offensive to the royal institution.
The Senate voted 90 to 17 to set up an extraordinary panel to follow up on the enforcement of laws and articles relating to the protection of the monarchy is to be headed by national police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan.
Currently, there are over 10,000 websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. The Information and Communication (ICT) Ministry has been able to block only 2,000 sites.
The Justice Ministry will coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to launch a campaign among foreigners to educate them about lese majeste laws.
Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said he would coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to instruct all Thai embassies abroad to launch public relations campaigns about lese majeste laws which impose harsh punishments on those who insult the
China censored parts of the new US president's inauguration speech that have appeared on a number of websites.
Live footage of the event on state television also cut away from Barack Obama when communism was mentioned.
China's leaders appear to have been upset by references to facing down communism and silencing dissent.
English-language versions of the speech have been allowed on the internet, but many of the Chinese translations have omitted sensitive sections.
In his inauguration address, President Obama said: Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
That entire passage was retained for an English-language version of the speech that appeared on the website of state-run Xinhua news agency. But in the Chinese-language version, the words "and communism" was taken out.
President Obama's comments addressed to world leaders who blame their society's ills on the West, also fell foul of the censor's red pen. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that
you are on the wrong side of history, the president said.
Once again, Xinhua included the passage in full in its English version, but the sentence was taken out of the Chinese translation.
Similar changes were made to versions of the speech that appeared on other websites based in China.
The taboo surrounding sexual content in films is to be lifted as the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court recently ruled that the restricted screening rating -- a powerful tool for film censorship -- unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the import and distribution of US film Shortbus , ruling to annul the restricted screening rating imposed on the movie by the Korea Media Rating Board, last week.
Restricted screening virtually means a film cannot be screened in regular movie theaters. Thanks to the court's ruling, Shortbus can be screened in cinemas. The movie graphically portrays non-simulated sex scenes, such as group sex and
masturbation. It has played at numerous domestic and international film festivals, and has been recognized for its artistic merits by critics.
Korean films are likely to feature more vivid depictions of sex from after the ruling. Sex scenes in Korean movies have gradually become more liberated, despite a constant struggle with the censorship system.
The film industry and the government censorship board have always clashed over the issue. With the abolition of restricted screening, it will be up to prosecutors and the court to judge whether a film is too lewd.
The film industry welcomes the court's decision. Film Bom CEO Jo Kwang-hee said, Unlike TV, film audiences play an active role in choosing what to watch. It is inappropriate to censor films when there is so many pornography easily available
However, the censor is not impressed. Ji Myung-hyok, professor at Kookmin University and the head of the Korea Media Rating Board, said, I am concerned that if films like Shortbus are screened in theaters, it will cause moral chaos.
A South Korean blogger is being prosecuted after using his website to warn of financial doom for his country. He is currently in jail and has been refused bail.
Supporters of Park Dae-sung say he is the victim of censorship by a government upset of his gloomy forecasts.
Park, using the online pseudonym Minerva, has become a household name in the country for his predictions of sharp stock market falls.
Prosecutors accuse him of damaging the local currency by posting incorrect information online. In particular they reckoned he’d gone too far when he said the government, had banned major financial institutions and trade businesses from
purchasing U.S. dollars in an apparent move to shore up the local currency, calling it inaccurate information that disrupted the foreign exchange market, says the Associated Press.
An official at the prosecutors' office said: The suspect in this case was indicted on charges of false information on two occasions.
As South Korean markets tumbled late last year amid the global downturn, the main financial regulator warned it would crack down on what it considered malicious rumours.
Some economic analysts say they have come under pressure from authorities not to voice negative views on the economy.
Park, an unemployed 30-year-old man who faces up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of breaking communications laws.
A South Korean blogger in custody since January 7, charged with spreading false information online, should be set free, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said.
The use of communication laws to imprison Park Dae-sung is a troubling step backward for democracy in South Korea. He should be released immediately, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney: Expressing opinions about the economy online
is not a crime.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is demanding that authorities ban R&B star Rihanna’s concert to be held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 February.
PAS alleges that her revealing outfits and suggestive dance moves are an insult to Asian values and outrage local cultural mores.
According to Kamaruzaman Mohammad, a leader of the youth wing of PAS claimed that attending the concert is a form of support for Israel: Whether Rihanna realises it or not, we know that the taxes she paid also contributed to the war in Gaza
Hong Kong government is completing its first round of consultation on the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) at the end of January, 2009.
The most debatable section is on the control over online new media as the existing practice of indecent and obscene censorship is very arbitrary and the extension of the ordinance to the internet may violate freedom of speech and expression.
Moreover, the anti-porn campaign in China has become a pretext for political censorship, internet users in Hong Kong also worries that ISP level filtering will give an infrastructure for political censorship in the future.
At present, the Hong Kong government adopts a complaint-driven approach to deal with obscene or indecent Internet content. The administrative body, Television and entertainment License Authority (TELA), would issue warning to local ISPs for
adding warning message or taking down indecent materials, while for obscene articles, it would hand over the case to the police.
In the government’s consultation paper, suggestions include:
Making it a legislative requirement for ISPs to provide filtering software
Tightening statutory controls, for example, web users are required to input their credit card data before getting access to webpage containing indecent materials to ensure that they have attained the age of 18
Regulating P2P communication.
The consultation has stirred up strong reactions from ISPs and internet users. ISPs pointed out that mandatory filtering service would increase the cost of ISPs service and suggested client’s end filtering software instead. Moreover, the
enforcement of the COIAO may open the path for application of more regulations on the Internet, such as Association Ordinance and Public Order Ordinance and the future National Security related set of law.
The P2P monitor will also violate internet users’ privacy, as there is no way for the the users to check how their data would be used (similar to the case of the private data detention of the TOM skype in mainland China).
The moral debate within the society is very tense. Conservative Christians consider any form of nudity and sexual intimacy be classified as indecent (require warning messages and for 18 or above only) as it would induce sinful thought to
youth and insist the exposure of sexual organ, explicit sex and non-heterosexual sexual behavior are obscene and have to be banned for distribution to all.
They have launched campaign to push the government for imposing mandatory filtering service at ISPs level and banning the distribution of indecent articles to youth (under 18) and obscene article (to all, including adult). They mobilize responses
via weekly sermon, Christian schools, social service organizations, etc.
On the other hand, the liberal sector of the population call for a more open-minded attitude towards sex-related content and tolerance towards sexual minorities. Moreover, human rights, media and progressive civic sector suggest to add human
rights and free expression principle to the classification system, giving exemption to arts, literature, religion, science and public concern matter in the classification guideline.
After this round of consultation, the government will come up with a concrete proposal for reforming the COIAO and regulating the new media later this year.
Thai police have charged an outspoken academic with insulting the royal family in a book, the accused professor said.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor, said he was formally charged under the kingdom's harsh lese majeste laws protecting the monarchy from defamation.
The academic told AFP he was was charged over the content of my anti-military coup book, A Coup for the Rich. The charges seem to have arisen out of a complaint made by the Chulalongkorn University book shop to the police, said Giles, a Thai national who teaches there.
He has 20 days to make a statement to the police, who will then decide whether to forward the case to the courts for trial.
A court in Thailand has sentenced an Australian author to three years in jail after finding him guilty of insulting the country's royal family.
Appearing in a Bangkok court, Harry Nicolaides, had pleaded guilty to the charges, related to a 2005 novel he authored which reportedly sold just seven copies.
He was convicted under Thailand's lese majeste laws, designed to protect the royal family but which activists say are outdated and stifle free speech.
Passing the court's verdict, the judge initially sentenced Nicolaides to six years in jail, but reduced the sentence to three years because of his guilty plea.
Speaking in court earlier, Nicolaides, who was shackled at the ankles and wore a prison uniform, said he had endured unspeakable suffering since his arrest five months ago and that the case had taken a toll on his health and family.
The case comes as Thai authorities step up prosecutions under the country's controversial laws on lese majeste or insulting the monarchy, which mandates a severe sentence for whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir
to the throne or the regent.
Nicolaides, who lived in Thailand from 2003-2005 and taught in the northern city of Chiang Rai, was arrested in August at Bangkok's international airport as he was about to board a flight home to Melbourne. The author was unaware of a warrant
issued in March for his arrest in connection with his novel, Verisimilitude , rights group Reporters Without Borders said.
On the day of his conviction he said, from behind bars : This is an Alice in Wonderland experience. I really believe that I am going to wake up and all of you will be gone, This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream, he went on, choking back tears. I respect the king of Thailand. I was aware there were obscure laws but I didn’t think they would apply to me.” During his time in jail he
had endured “unspeakable suffering, he said, but would not elaborate.
Thai police said that they have found another 1,500 web sites that allegedly insult the country's monarchy and have ordered them to be blocked amid an intensifying crackdown.
The announcement comes just days after the government said it had already prevented access to around 2,300 websites under repressive lese majeste laws which protect King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family.
The laws have been criticised by rights groups and media organisations in recent months, while critics have accused the government of using them to suppress dissenting voices on the Internet.
Police have found up to 1,500 websites containing content that is insulting to the royal family, Lieutenant General Suchart Mueankaoe, commander of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, told reporters.
Lt Gen Suchart said his force was responsible for prosecuting cases of defaming the monarchy no matter where the case originated. Currently there are 17 cases active, out of these eight are still being investigated.
According to a report in People's Daily Online, China's notoriously Internet-repressive government will begin requiring online gamers to register using their real names.
A government official, Zhang Yijun, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication's Technology and Digital Publication Department. also indicated that the operations of four online game companies have been suspended after
Chinese government inspectors discovered that their software did not contain the required anti-addiction system.
The real name registration system does not mean that gamers cannot use screen-names, but rather that their online gaming accounts must be linked to their real world identification number, which is issued by the government.
A Chinese gamer went on to explain that linking a gamer's online account to their ID number means the government can keep track of how long underage gamers are playing. Minors are limited to playing for three hours per day...
Reporters Without Borders deplores today's arrest of Internet user Suwicha Thakhor on a charge of insulting the monarchy (lese majeste), just one day after Thai Netizen Network, a group that defends online freedom of expression, met with
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and suggested ways to reach a compromise on Internet regulation, including the issue of lese majeste.
This arrest gives the government the opportunity to demonstrate its readiness to maintain a real dialogue by keeping a close watch on the conduct of the investigation, Reporters Without Borders said. We urge the government to do
everything possible to ensure that Thakhor is released as soon as the authorities establish that he has not done anything that violates democratic norms.
The Department of Special Investigations said Thakhor was arrested because his computer's Internet address matched the address from which comments about the king and his aides had been sent. He was picked up by the police while visiting friends
in the provinces. The authorities say they suspect he knew the police were after him and that he left the capital for this reason.
Thakhor, who is being held at Department of Special Investigations headquarters in Bangkok, has denied the charges.
Cambodian journalists have accused the government of trying to censor the internet with new legislation they say aims at silencing public criticism. The new laws are due to be passed later this year.
Sam Rithy Doung Hak, a monitor for the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), said proposed laws to regulate audiovisual content on the internet could jeopardize Cambodia's relatively liberal media environment: These
audiovisual laws will cover sound and pictures published on the internet, which I am convinced is driven by the government's intention to censor the internet .
Sam Rithy Doung Hak said popular anti-government websites and political cartoons criticizing could be easily censored if the laws were introduced: We cannot say clearly how this is going to affect journalists' work since we have not seen the
details of this law, but it is our intention to show the international community that it could be used as some sort of government tool to permanently scare online journalists so they don't go too far in criticizing the government .
China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has submitted the final version of its Film Promotion Law to the State Council and a film rating system may be implemented, according to sources from the ongoing 10th Seminar for
Film Directors from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The system, which will have a comparatively simple "two ratings", may offer some films that fail to meet mainland censorship requirements access to the Chinese mainland audience.
The current system has a single rating and that has to be suitable for children of all ages
A total of 150 directors took part in the seminar.
A film rating system is very essential in China, Tong Gang, director of Motion Picture Bureau with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) was quoted as saying by a report on website of the Ministry of Culture.
A movie rating system in China has been discussed for years since the people have begun to enjoy an increasing number imported films and a booming domestic film market.
The director said the draft of the law had recently been finished and was submitted by the SARFT to the State Council, China's cabinet. He did not reveal that whether the NPC's annual session this year would review or approve the draft law.
Tong said he had supported a movie rating system in China when he was interviewed by a TV program in Singapore and he expressed a will to take Hong Kong's rating system as a reference during a visit to the SAR: However, my utterance has been
overexplained and even distorted by some media reports. A rating system in China will not mean that we will allow depictions of porn or violence in the movies for sales and screen.
The Myanmar Thit monthly magazine's latest issue has been delayed as it was forced to submit another cover design after the Burmese censor board rejected the earlier design featuring the portrait of former UN Secretary General U Thant.
The said magazine's issue was planned to commemorate the birth centenary of U Thant. However, despite the publisher's compliance
with the Press Scrutiny Board's demand that the late Burmese statesman's portrait be replaced, the new cover design is yet to be approved even though it had been submitted a week ago.
In the new cover design, the magazine replaced U Thant's portrait with his quotation, Regardless of how much differences exist among the uncivilized citizens, a civilized Asian has no differences and inequalities with any civilized European
and American, and the UN logo.
The censor board also rejected two articles written by U Thant and a speech delivered by Mahatma Gandhi on the late Burmese statesman. Only six out of a total of 15 poems submitted for this issue were approved for publication.
A Thai academic who is facing charges of insulting the monarchy called for a campaign to abolish the law under which he could be jailed for 15 years.
Ji Ungpakorn, a prominent activist and political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said police have asked to question him over a book he wrote about Thailand's 2006 military coup.
His case is the latest sign of ideological struggle over the role of the monarchy, a subject that was once taboo. There has been a recent spate of complaints and prosecutions for lese majeste — as the charge is called — and increased
censorship of Web sites allegedly critical of the institution.
Ji said at a news conference that the lese majeste law, which mandates a jail term of three to 15 years for defaming the king, the queen or the heir to the throne, restricts freedom of speech and expression and does not allow for public
accountability and transparency of the institution of the monarchy.
He charged that it is used as a tool by the military, and other authoritarian elites, in order to protect their own interests. He claimed he was being targeted for political reasons because he criticized the military and its coup.
Newly elected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised to take all measures to prevent people from defaming the monarchy.
China confiscated about 83.84 million pornographic, pirated and unauthorized publications in 2008, the national anti-pornography and anti-piracy office said in a press release.
Law enforcement departments investigated 25,384 cases involving the production, sale and distribution of illegal publications last year, including 328 criminal cases, according to the National Office for Cleaning Up Pornography and Fighting
It said eight illegal disc production lines were closed and 46,000 shops and 1,420 printing and copying enterprises were shut down.
Also, 14,000 illegal websites were closed and more than 490,000items of "harmful" content were deleted, the release said.
Hong Kong Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang wants a jury system to replace the use of adjudicators on the Obscene Articles Tribunal.
Li said it is inappropriate and unsatisfactory for the tribunal to perform both administrative classification and judicial functions.
The chief justice said the tribunal is in effect operating as two different bodies with different powers and subject to different procedures and rules of evidence.
Li said the Judiciary has proposed that the present system of using tribunal adjudicators be replaced by a jury system.
The first round of public consultation on the reform proposals will be completed at the end of this month. In its proposal in October, the government recommended that an independent classification board be set up to improve the regulation of
obscene and indecent articles.
The proposed reform came after the sex photos scandal involving teenage icon Edison Chen Koon- hei and his celebrity partners early last year. The proposals include revamping the tribunal. Among the options being considered is a two- tier system
under which an independent classification board would make interim classifications of material.
The existing Obscene Articles Tribunal would remain a judicial body responsible for considering appeals against the board's decisions and dealing with articles referred by courts.
Amnesty International have said that their Internet website had once again been blocked in China and urged Beijing to re-establish the site immediately.
In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the London-based human rights group's website was unblocked by the Chinese authorities,
China had rolled back a few high-profile planks of its web censorship in an apparent effort to defuse an embarrassing dispute over media freedom ahead of the August Games.
We fear the re-blocking of Amnesty International's website indicates a widening crackdown, particularly as 2009 will see a number of important commemorations, said Roseann Rife, deputy director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program.
This year sees the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
At the dawn of 2009, many sighed with relief that, for whatever reason, a big political hurdle has been overcome. The new Administration led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, has pledged to prioritize suppression of any offence related to defamation
of the monarch.
Many political dissidents have been entangled in l่se majest้ litigation in the past year. Some have been granted bail, including Sondhi Limthongkul, Sulak Sivaraksa, and Veera Musikpong, while others ran away, including Chucheep
Cheevasuth, and Suchart Nagabangsai. This dubious charge was also laid against persons such as Jitra Kotchadet, a union leader, and Chotisak On-soong, a student. A charge against Jonathan Head, BBC correspondent, also raised many eyebrows,
whereas others were arrested and quietly held in custody including Phraya Pichai and Thonchan , the two infamous web bloggers.
But some have already spent part of their lives behind bars including Ms. Daranee Chancherngsilpakul, aka Dar Torpedo, serving 6 years in jail, and Ms. Boonyuen Prasertying, two stars at the Sanam Luang political rallies.
This does not yet include Harry Nicolaides, an Aussie writer. Pending trial, these three alleged offenders have been languishing in jail for months. None of the Thai media has paid the slightest attention to their plight. Unlike many others, they
have been denied bail. It could be said that their cases have already been decided by society.
China expanded an Internet cleanup campaign, shutting down a blog hosting site www.bullog.cn for apparently carrying harmful comments on current affairs.
The founder of bullog.cn, Luo Yonghao, told The Associated Press: I got an e-mail from the Beijing Communications Administration this afternoon, saying the Web site contained harmful comments on current affairs and therefore will be closed
It was not known whether the shutdown of bullog.cn was permanent. The site, home to some outspoken social and political commentary, was closed temporarily last year during a key Communist Party congress after criticism of the meeting was posted.
12th January 2008
91 websites have now been added to China's block list in the last few days
16th January 2008
277 websites have now been added to China's block list in the last few days
Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web sites and is establishing a war room for future crackdowns, which critics say threaten free speech.
Authorities are seeking a court order to shut 400 more sites and will spend 45 million baht ($1.3 million) to create a 24-hour center to police Internet material, Information and Communications Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee said in a
statement posted on the ICT’s Web site.
The ministry is investing a lot of money to buy expensive software to block Web sites, but actually it’s very contrary to international standards, said lawyer Paiboon Amonpinyokeat: The government has to understand the nature of
the Internet and the concept of freedom of speech.
Under the 2007 law passed after the military seized power in a coup, authorities can’t block Web sites without a court order. The law was designed to prevent abuse of power by giving judges the final say on whether to shut down an Internet
site, Paiboon said.
The ministry plans to introduce heavier fines and prison terms for anyone who supposedly insults the king via the Internet, Ranongrak said in the statement. She also plans to target inappropriate online games and casinos. And of course
there are plenty of porn sites on the censored list.
The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) says the year 2008 was the most challenging year for mass media professionals as they faced various forms of intimidation from different interest groups.
The TJA panel on rights, liberties and media reform idntified the 10 most serious media intimidation cases that occurred during 2008:
The murder of two Matichon reporters. Athiwat Chainuwat was gunned down on Aug 1, while Jaruk Rangcharoen was shot dead on Sept 27
Unkind words against political reporters from Samak Sundaravej were a daily dose for those hounding him for news when he was the prime minister
A call from Samak urging journalists to side with the then PPP-led government after anti-government protesters, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Aug 26 laid siege to the state-run NBT television station and later stormed and
occupied the Government House.
Intimidation and physical assaults against journalists covering protest rallies of rival political groups.
Renaming of the state-owned Channel 11 to NBT by the Samak government in a bid to make the station look more independent, but in fact serving as a propaganda tool for the government.
Street protesters' browbeating of television stations on various occasions. Threats to the NBT, a station that was briefly seized by PAD, the surrounding of the TPBS by the pro-PPP Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, and the ASTV station that was attacked
by war weapons.
Lawsuits demanding 100 million baht compensation from two columnists of Krungthepturakij newspaper filed by Ek-Chai Distribution System, operator of Tesco Lotus in Thailand.
Thai Rath newspaper's tragic loss of six staff members in Narathiwat. Chalee Bunsawat, a Narathiwat-based reporter for the newspaper was killed in an insurgent bomb attack. Then, a van carrying 10 members of its newspaper's deep South bureau
and heading for Chalee's funeral in Sungai Kolok district crashed and caught fire, killing five of them at the crash scene and seriously injuring five others.
Banning of several TV broadcast programmes.
The banning of the TJA shirts by Government House media officers. Journalists entering the compound were requested not to wear shirts bearing the message Intimidating Media, Intimidating the People distributed by the TJA on World Press
A Chinese organization has listed a group of big name websites, including Google, Baidu, Sina.com and Sohu.com, which have been found to supposedly spread pornography and threaten youth's morals, and could tighten regulations on these websites.
China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) said it has found 19 websites that provide content that includes pictures, text, video clips and web links inappropriate for Chinese people.
Major websites such as MSN, Google, Baidu, Sina, Sohu, Tecent and NetEase are on the list. Google's photo search was singled out for particular criticism.
The announcement is part of a nationwide campaign launched jointly by seven Chinese ministries to clean up the online environment. The list identifies a number of websites that violate the government view of public morality and supposedly harm
the physical and mental health of Chinese people.
CIIRC said the listed websites did not take effective measures to take out the inappropriate content after they were noted.
41 porn sites were also said to be closed by the Chinese censors.
Burma's Information Ministry has announced that makers of films and documentaries will need to seek prior permission from the Censor Board to be able to contest in international film festivals, sources in the Burmese film industry said.
The film censorship board has issued a new order. All films and documentary makers must seek permission before contesting at international film festivals, a film director in Rangoon said on condition of anonymity.
According to sources in Rangoon's film industry, the new regulation came into being after director Kyi Phyu Shin won the 2008 Best Short Film Award of the National Geographic Society with her 15 minute-long documentary film in 2008.
Director, Kyi Phyu Shin, won the award for her documentary film, Scathes of Wathoneon, the life of a Burmese painter called Wathone.