Apple appears to be excluding some applications from its App Store in China. The missing applications include references to the Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer, and is likely a requirement imposed on Apple by the Chinese government, according to PC World.
The blocked apps all relate to exiled spiritual leaders.
Apple isn't the first technology company to censor online content to comply with China laws. Google -- the company with the do no evil business model -- already blocks
pornographic and many politically-related search results in China. According to the Internet search company, it must comply with China's laws and regulations to offer its services in the country.
Press organizations have denounced calls for the government to regulate or ban racy entertainment news programs, saying such a move smacked of censorship and harked back to the oppressive Suharto regime.
Their existence is legitimate, said
Leo Batubara, chairman of the Press Council, referring to popular infotainment shows broadcast on private television stations. There [instead] should be strong public control over the programs and sanctions imposed on the programs to reinforce better
He criticized calls last week by Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim organization, for the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to force TV stations to stop airing the shows.
Hasyim's stance was supported by Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali on Saturday.
The NU in 2006 issued a fatwa declaring infotainment haram, or forbidden under Islam. The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) has also criticized the shows.
The debate over infotainment reared its head again after actress Luna Maya blasted the shows on the micro-blogging site Twitter earlier this month.
Ezki Suyanto, a member of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), said the NU and the
Religious Affairs Ministry should consider the negative effects a ban would have, such as employees of infotainment shows possibly losing their jobs.
Imam Wahyudi, chairman of the Indonesian Television Journalists Association (IJTI), said calls
for a ban should be seen as a warning for infotainment programs to shape up. Wahyudi added that television programs about celebrities could still have news value as long as they remained in the public's interests.
A recent case that Ezki cited was
the launch of a book by singer Krisdayanti, where infotainment reporters chose to discuss her marital problems instead of the book.
The Malaysian government will endorse a new film censorship guideline which will take into account the inputs of industry players, academicians, youths and experienced administrators beginning next year.
Home Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri
Mahmood Adam told reporters after the appointment of the Film Censorship Board's members that he hoped this guideline would pave the way for self-censorship and a self-regulatory practice within the industry.
Artistes, script writers, directors
and everyone involved in the film industry will be invited to assist in the censorship of our films besides the academicians and experienced groups who had been selected previously. We want to ensure that before the film is made, its script would be read
first by members of the Film Censorship Board and if necessary, we will invite the script writer or film owner to discuss the script, he said.
Currently, the Film Censorship Board watched a completed film before censoring it which could lead
to losses on the film makers' part as some of the messages might not go through, he said. He added that the Board would consist of 65 members and the appointment was merely the first of many.
The World Trade Organization has rejected a Chinese appeal of an August decision striking down China's policy of restricting the number of foreign films and DVDs that can be distributed in that country and forcing film companies to use state-owned
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said, We expect China to respond promptly to these findings and bring its measures into compliance.
If it does not, the U.S. could take retaliatory measures against
Chinese goods. However, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Greg Frazier, an executive with the Motion Pictgure Association of America (MPAA), said, We've never been under the illusion of overnight, instantaneous effect [of the WTO ruling,]
... The whole point is to get leverage to open that market.
A cartoon was published showing Korea Communications Commission head Choi Si-jung holds a club in a threatening manner against the MBC situation comedy, High Kick!
Beside him stands officials from the Defense Ministry and the National
Intelligence Service (NIS) saying, You have only made the situation comedy program even more popular.
The officials are speaking from experience as books on the Defense Ministry's banned book list in 2008 have become increasingly more
popular, and the NIS's recent request to the Gwangju local government office to remove a sculpture critical of President Lee Myung-bak's environmental policies from an exhibition only resulted in making the work more famous.
Recently the KCC cited
the staff of High Kick! for violating the Broadcasting Law when it broadcast an obscenity by an elementary student who called a person that was making her feel uncomfortable Bbangku Ddongu (smelly fart/dung fart). The KCC's fine has resulted in
drawing more viewers to the show.
The latest runaway success on Chinese television has had to pay the ultimate price, however, for depicting grubby reality too closely.
Snail House , a show featuring shady communist officials, their mistresses and dodgy financial dealings,
has fallen foul of the censors.
For months tens of millions of viewers have been following the twists and turns in the lives of two sisters who take different paths to escape their plight as mortgage slaves . Snail House also called Dwelling Narrowness
is set in a fictional city that closely resembles Shanghai. The drama tells the tale of two sisters struggling to buy a home in a country where 85% of the population are currently priced out of the housing market. Related Links
takes the quick route to riches, becoming the mistress of a corrupt Communist Party official to get his help to buy a flat.
Unfortunately for the producers, the plot line cuts too close to the bone. Viewers believed that the corrupt official and
fictional city bore a remarkably close resemblance to a district boss in Shanghai who fell victim to a purge of corrupt cadres in the metropolis in 2006.
After the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) issued a notice to all
media banning further broadcasts of the series, it promptly disappeared from China's hundreds of local channels. Sarft objected to the erroneous guidance contained in the show, one source told The Times.
For all the censors' best efforts,
however, Snail House has not vanished entirely. Hundreds of websites have since sprung up, allowing audiences to download copies of the soap in provinces where it had yet to air before the ban.
The growing popularity of the iPhone in Korea may necessitate the rating of App Store game offerings by government censors.
The Korean Herald notes that currently all games in Korea must be approved by the country's Game Rating Board. In deference
to this, the Korean version of the App Store currently does not offer a game category at all, but concern remains over games that could be downloaded from the App Store's entertainment category or from the App Store of other countries.
Korea's Game Rating Board ratings consist of four categories: All (for everyone) 12-year +, 15-year+ and 18+
China has banned the registering of personal Internet domain names and people who have their own websites could lose t hem, the South China Morning Post said, citing a government regulation that came into effect recently.
Under the regulation,
Internet service providers can no longer host individually owned websites and only businesses or government-authorised organizations can have them, the English-language report said.
The step was taken because of supposed concern over pornographic
content on personal websites, the Morning Post said, citing the China Internet Network Information Center.
Website owners in Jiangsu, Shanghai, Henan, Zhejiang and Jiangxi can no longer access their sites, the report said.
The Beijing News quoted a recent meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), summarized and explained the policies into 5 measures
Set up a blacklist to prevent the owners of domain names found to be in violation from applying for additional domain names.
Tighten registration procedures to ensure that all application documents are accurate. Transfer of a domain name
3Unregistered domain names will not be resolved: Domestic websites are usually registered with MIIT, but because some of them were in existence before the establishment of the registration system, some websites have not registered. Many foreign
domain names have not registered with MIIT.
Suspension of DNS service to violating websites and to any other domain names in the possession of the same domain name holder.
Overhaul of registrars:
In the past, the website registration system targets at websites hosted in local servers, as for overseas websites, the politically sensitive ones were blocked by the Great Fire Wall (GFW - internet filter) under the blacklist system or keywords
filtering. However, netizens can still get around by using proxy or TOR. If the MIIT is to white-listing the whole Internet, it will turn the Chinese Internet into intranet and cripple most of the circumventing devices.
However, it is net yet
clear if the registration system will be extended to foreign websites. According to the MIIT official document on the campaign against the proliferation of pornography on mobile devices, the first stage (Nov-Dec 2009) of the white washing campaign has
started with a ban on individual registration for CN domain name. The second stage, which involves what has been described in the Beijing News (strengthening of the registration without specific reference to overseas websites), will take place between
Jan-Sep 2010. The final stage is between Oct - Dec 2010. Measures will involve a complete monitoring and analysis of online data flow and resources for identifying illegal and unsolicited activities.
A democracy activist could face the death penalty if convicted at a trial expected in Vietnam late this month, his father said.
Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested in July along with several others, including human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, and
accused of anti-state activities.
Trung was arrested for propaganda against the state , which carries a prison term on conviction. But he is now facing the more serious charge of subverting the people's administration , his father
said. The charge carries a maximum penalty of death.
French European Parliament member Nicole Kiil-Nielsen said in a letter to Vietnam's French embassy: He is a democrat and pacifist.
The Indonesia Film Censorship Agency's decision to ban the Australian movie Balibo early this month appears to have backfired, with stores all over the capital selling the pirated version of the film over the weekend.
Firman, a movie lover,
said that until recently he had never even heard of the movie, which tells of the deaths of five journalists, allegedly at the hands of Indonesian soldiers during the 1975 invasion of East Timor. I only found out about the movie after the National
Film Censorship Board [LSF] banned it. I don't even know what the movie is about. I must admit that I bought the pirated version because of the ban, he told the Jakarta Globe.
Ayu, a shopkeeper who sells pirated DVDs, said demand for the movie
was high. We just received the movie on [Sunday] morning and we've sold more than 40 copies, she said. We are already short on stock, so we quickly ordered a hundred more copies.
Prior to the ban, Balibo had a very small market,
primarily attracting curious expatriates, journalists and hard core movie buffs.
The pirated version of the movie is reportedly decent in quality with accurate subtitles.
group has threatened to fight a ban on the war movie Balibo with a constitutional court challenge if the Indonesian government enforces its countrywide prohibition.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists has been showing the banned movie
in venues around the country, and sales of pirated DVDs are flourishing without police interference in markets in the capital, Jakarta.
Police spokesman Col. Untung Ketut Yoga said the government ban cannot be enforced until police receive written
confirmation of its terms from the government.
Andreas Harsono, founder of the alliance, said the journalists will lodge a constitutional court challenge if the government takes the next step of enforcing the ban, which was instituted Dec. 1.
The constitutional court has previously lifted bans on five politically sensitive films about East Timor and Indonesia's restive Aceh province that prevented their screenings at the 2006 Jakarta film festival. A lawyer who helped win those challenges,
Christiana Chelsia Chan, said she believed the Balibo ban was similarly unconstitutional.
Film festival director Lalu Roisamri, who submitted Balibo to the censors, welcomed the prospect of the court appeal. He said freedom of speech was
going backward in Indonesia: I'm afraid so, because I think the government is paranoid, Roisamri said.
Connolly said he had given copyright permission to the alliance to screen his movie, but that the DVDs being sold in markets were
illegal. He said he had been naively optimistic that the government censors would allow the movie to be screened at commercial cinemas.
China has revoked permission for cable operators to distribute commercial network Sun TV due to its outspoken talk shows, sources said, as part of a government crackdown on content deemed sensitive and too bold.
The country's censors have become
increasingly intolerant of content that pushes the envelope on politically incorrect or sensitive topics.
Police have detained about 3,500 people in a crackdown on online pornography so far this year and closed thousands of websites. The official
Xinhua news agency, citing the Ministry of Public Security, said more than 1,25 million items of online lewd content and nearly 7,000 pornographic websites and columns had been removed from the internet this year.
From Dec 5, audiences
in mainland China cannot receive our signals, but the programing is still broadcast in Hong Kong and overseas, said an employee at Sun TV's parent company in Hong Kong.
The ministry responsible for this did not notify Sun TV beforehand. So
far their reasons are unclear, but we are trying to get an explanation.
A media industry source with knowledge of the move told Reuters: Sun's broadcast rights were revoked because guests called for political reform.
Taiwan's parliament has changed the law to ban supposedly gratuitous images of sex and violence in the island's racy media following a surge in parental complaints.
Passage of a bill that outlaws explicit photos, television scenes and online
graphics comes after officials issued two fines, totaling T$1 million ($30,900), against the publisher of mainstream newspaper Apple Daily over its online imagery.
Entire families see this. Children see it. Only in Taiwan do we have these
images. You go to Hong Kong and it's not there, said Ke Ming-hsiu, aide to legislator Hung Hsiu-chu who sponsored the bill with broad bi-partisan support.
Parental complaints to the Taiwan government had 'soared' before the city of Taipei
fined Apple Daily's publisher, a government official said. The paper had built a name on its real-life animation of grisly crimes and even a make-believe video of golf star Tiger Woods crashing a vehicle.
The parliament bill, which passed without
opposition, revises three acts that govern media broadcasts and the welfare of children and teenagers. Parliament must vote two more times to finalize it, but no opposition is expected.
The Japanese localization of Infinity Ward's controversial yet popular Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has been censored rather crudely.
The famous airport civilian massacre received a rather inaccurate translation. The original line
spoke by Makarov was, Remember, no Russian. The idea is that, in order to disguise the terrorist attack, it's paramount that the terrorists hide their own Russian nationality. But the Japanese audio dub for this line is, Korose, Roshia-jin da,
which means, Kill them, they are Russians. Needless to say, this ichanges the entire context of the game.
The mission itself is censored, but still playable. It's not a parental lock that removes blood, gore or foul language, but it
does something even more devious. If, at any point during the mission, you actually pull the trigger and kill any of the civilians spawned on the map, you will instantly get that terrible game-over screen and it's back to the last checkpoint.
Combined with wronged translation, this makes the airport scene a logical nightmare. If we look at the Japanese version of the game alone, without any other one to compare it with, the game first tells us to kill the Russians and, when we obey and actually do it, it kills us for it. To call it confusing would be quite the understatement.
I refer to the government's latest plan to curb video piracy where Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the government was considering a proposal to take action against the private owners of even
one pirated video.
Tell you what minister, if you agree that you will enforce the law across the board, consistently and without exception, then I will support your proposal and stop buying pirated DVDs. May I propose that you start enforcing this
new strategy by raiding the homes of all your ministry staff as after all I am sure you would like to set a good example by cleaning your own house and ministry first before going to the homes of private citizens.
Did I hear no ? You don't
plan to raid homes? Surely you are not suggesting that you plan to snoop and arrest only those devious individuals caught in the act of purchasing pirated DVDs? But wouldn't it be easier to just shut down the DVD shops instead of targeting the individual
buyers? Has it crossed your mind that perhaps the ineffective enforcement drive against the retailers has been largely due to corruption?
In any event, the thrust of this article is not to belittle your latest strategy but to point out that when
it comes to video piracy in Malaysia, the situation may not be as simple as say curbing video piracy in the UK or other similarly developed states. There is basically less demand for pirated DVDs in these states, simply because they can afford to buy the
originals due to their higher purchasing power based on the prices and earnings. For example, a primary school teacher in London earning US$31,300 (RM106,000) net per annum will be able to afford a newly released DVD at £20 (RM116) while a similar
teacher in Kuala Lumpur earning US$8,400 net per annum will unlikely pay RM70 for the same DVD. Therefore, lowering the prices of DVDs to match earnings would be a good first step.
That is not to say that I support wholesale piracy as long as the
prices of the DVDs remain beyond the reach of average Malaysians. I would grudgingly agree if cornered, that exceptions may be made for legitimate local business concerns where the pirated materials affect local movies or movies that are currently
being shown in cinemas.
But what about circumstances where there are no legitimate local business concerns i.e. movies that are not being shown or available locally on DVD? I think we should thank our very enterprising video pirates for bringing
otherwise unavailable and unaffordable DVDs to our shores as if not, where are we going to watch such wide-ranging movies? And here I am not referring to the sleazy stuff but all sorts of movies from all film eras, genres and sub-genres, high or low
brow, critically acclaimed or panned, from all over the world that are not shown or available in the country and do not hurt any local business interests.
Why do you care if we watch say, for example, DVDs of Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre
Melville, Jean-Pierre (and Luc) Dardenne, Jean Cocteau, Jean Renoir or even Jean-Claude Van Damme? With the exception of JCVD (which incidentally is also the title of his 2008 film which was surprisingly inventive and funny who would have thought!),
none of the films by these great directors will see the light of day in Malaysia as they are certainly unlikely to pass the twin evils of censorship and the business bottom line.
Speaking of films that never see the light of day, if we can just
look at the Cannes Film Festival listing over the last couple of years, how many of them actually made it here whether in the cinema or on video? Hunger , Che , Three Monkeys , Better Things , Il Divo , Lorna's
Silence , Thirst , The Class , Gomorra , Synecdoche , New York , Of Time and the City , A Christmas Tale , Looking for Eric , and Waltz with Bashir all critically acclaimed or award
winning but yet none of them made it here. But guess what, I have seen them all and they were great.
Okay, occasionally films like Inglourious Basterds do make it here but when I do watch them at the cinema, I am invariably disappointed as
obviously there will be cuts what's the point of having ratings 18PL, SG, PL, SX, PA then? I will be further annoyed by the subtitling usually bad and lost in translation that ruins the frame. So I guess in order to appreciate fully the genius of
Quentin Tarantino's latest offering, I will then have to wait patiently for a good DVD copy.
And let us not start with the Film Censorship Board. Really, who are these old men (probably repressed) who decide what the rest of the country can or
cannot watch? How are they chosen and who are they accountable to? How can the board, which saw fit to censor the kissing scene at the end of Slumdog Millionaire (when the star-crossed lovers were reunited), in this day and age be taken seriously?
Do they mean to say that Malaysians do not kiss or do not have access to kissing scenes? Or do they mean to state that Malaysians will start kissing at railway stations and then start dancing Bollywood-style and therefore incompatible with Malaysian
culture? Isn't it absurd that that as an adult, one can vote, get married, start a family, purchase a property, drive a car, work and travel anywhere but is still being told what to watch?
I can bet that if you conduct a survey among Malaysian
filmmakers, all of them will have a decent collection of pirated DVDs. So, far from harming the local movie industry, I would even venture to state that the recent successes and recognition accorded to several local productions at international film
circuits were to an extent due to the wide availability of films that otherwise would not be accessible to them.
So pardon me if I don't feel like going to the cinemas tonight; now showing: The Twilight Saga: New Moon , 2012 , Ninja Assassin
, Love Happens , Couples Retreat , Phobia 2 and Scenario the Movie Episode 2: Beach Boys .
Hmm, how tempting; or I could just stay home and put on a DVD.
Chinese officials have launched their latest antiporn initiative this time offering surfers cash payments for reporting adult websites.
According to Chinese state media, the new program offers up to 10,000 yuan (around $1465 U.S.) to Internet
users that locate and report pornographic websites. The move, seemingly designed to build a more comprehensive database of adult websites, has the consequence of encouraging more visits to suspected porn sites.
The Xinhua news agency claims that
within the first 24 hours of the new program, its hotline at the Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre received more than 500 phone calls and 13,000 online tips.
The rewards for identifying adult web and mobile sites range from 1,000 yuan
to 10,000 yuan, will reportedly be paid to the first person to report a specific URL, with a review committee determining the appropriate payout.
According to some adult industry analysts, the reward money may very well exceed the revenues of
operating these sites, thus encouraging a spike in Chinese adult website creation, simply for the profit potential of then reporting the new site to authorities.
Prolonging the debate over the Film Censor Institute's (LSF) ban on Balibo - the Australian film about the killings of five Western journalists in then East Timor in 1975 - the House of Representatives Commission X on arts and cultural affairs is
planning to summon Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik and LSF officials for questioning.
Eko Hendro Purnomo, a member of the commission from the National Mandate Party (PAN), said the government had overreacted with its decision to ban the
movie: It's paranoia. There has never been a movie in the history of the world that led to the disintegration of a nation .
Kemal Stamboel, chairman of House Commission I on defense and foreign affairs, praised the LSF's ban, saying it had
its own standard to review a movie that bothers our people .
Indonesia's journalists have vowed to defy a ban on the screening of Australian movie Balibo , saying the film depicting alleged war crimes by Indonesian forces in East Timor is educational.
The film directed by Robert Connolly and starring
Anthony LaPaglia was banned without explanation on Tuesday hours before it was due to premier in Indonesia at a private showing for the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club.
It depicts the alleged murder of five Australian-based journalists by
invading Indonesian forces in the East Timorese border town of Balibo in 1975.
Indonesia claims the reporters -- two Australians, two Britons and a New Zealander -- were killed in crossfire and has refused to cooperate with an Australian war
crimes investigation launched this year.
Alliance of Independent Journalists head Nezar Patria said its members had been invited to a screening Thursday night at Utan Kayu Theatre in Jakarta, regardless of the ban.
The film, which opened in
Australia in July, was also scratched at the last minute from the programme for the Jakarta International Film Festival starting next week.
Censors have yet to comment publicly on their decision to ban the film, but Foreign Minister Marty
Natalegawa told parliament on Wednesday it was meant to protect the country's global image.
Military spokesman Sagom Tamboen told AFP: This is very hurtful to us. We believe the journalists died in crossfire. We thank the censorship board for
its decision to ban Balibo in Indonesia.
The Indonesian Communications and Information Minister, Tiffatul Sembiring, said his ministry intended to produce the draft of a government regulation against pornography in six months.
He made the statement replying a reporter's question on
control of distribution of made-in Indonesia pornographic video compact discs.
He said the draft of the regulation on the matter was now still being prepared following the passage of the law on pornography. So, he said, after the regulation was
issued all pornographic sites in the country would be closed.
Regarding internet services to villages, the minister said that a software had been distributed to blacklist or close pornographic sites. A software had also been distributed to block
blasphemy, he added.
The minister said that a total of 500 pieces of made-in Indonesia pornographic VCDs had been found being sold in markets recently. 70% of the actors and actresses in the films were Indonesian junior- and senior-high school
students. This proves that there has been moral degradation, he said.
Tiffatul Sembiring also drew sharp criticism from earthquake victims and alienated some of his Twitter followers by blaming natural disasters in Indonesia on
He linked disasters to declining public morals when he addressed a prayer meeting in the city of Padang: Television broadcasts that destroy morals are plentiful in this country and therefore disasters will continue to occur.
News of what Sembiring, a former leader of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party, said provoked criticism from disaster victims.
Kikie Marzuki, a Muslim Aceh resident who lost 10 relatives in the tsunami, said victims were not to blame:
I prefer to believe that natural disasters occur because of the destructive force of nature that cannot be avoided by humans .
Sembiring's remarks also brought swift rebuke from some of his followers on the social interaction network Twitter.
One tweeter, who identified himself as Ari Margiono, told Sembiring his words inferred that residents of Aceh and Padang were more decadent than other Indonesians.
Not everyone disagreed with him, and his speech in Padang won the backing of an
influential board of Muslim clerics, the Indonesian Ullema Council: Based on the religious view, a disaster could be seen as a punishment for people's sins, and could also as a reminder to us of our mistakes, prominent council member Ma'ruf Amin
Huang Qi, founder of Tianwang Center for Missing Persons (later renamed as Tianwang Human Rights Center), was sentenced to three year imprisonment on November 23 in Chengdu Wuhou district court for illegal possession of state secrets in connection
with material published on his website.
According to BBC's report, Huang's wife Zeng Li, said the verdict was revenge for his involvement in the earthquake cases as the information he possessed is available to the public. And Amnesty
International said Huang was a victim of China's vague state secrets laws and urged for his immediate release.
The Tianwang website was initially set up to help counter human trafficking problem in China in 1998, but later it was expanded
to include campaign against human rights abuse. After the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Huang helped the parents who lost their children because of the bean dreg construction problem and gave advice to the families of five dead children who wanted to bring
a legal case against the local authorities following the earthquake. Huang was taken by the police in Chengdu in June 2008 and has been held in custody ever since.
Web browser Opera has closed a service which allowed Chinese users to access sites banned by the government.
At the weekend mobile users of the Opera Mini browser were asked to upgrade to a Chinese version.
According to the BBC's Beijing
Bureau, this version no longer allows access to sites such as Facebook.
Previously traffic ran over Opera servers bypassing the so-called Great Firewall of China, making the browser popular with Chinese users.
Opera confirmed that it had
started directing users of the international version of the mobile browser to the Chinese version on 20 November. It was not prepared to discuss the background for this decision . But there was plenty of speculation on the blogosphere.
Let me guess what has happened here. The Chinese government has put pressure on Opera to close down that free access. And like most companies, they complied,
wrote blogger Carsten Ullrich.
Hollywood's latest doomsday offering 2012 has caused a storm in Indonesia, with conservative clerics condemning it as a provocation against Islam .
Screenings have been sold out across the capital Jakarta following the film's
success in North America.
But while most viewers said they had enjoyed the film's apocalyptic vision of life after December 21, 2012, when the fulfilment of a Mayan prophecy sees the Earth engulfed by catastrophe, senior clerics were deeply
The country's top Islamic body, the National Council of Ulema (MUI), is divided over whether or not to issue a fatwa or religious edict against the film. One local branch has already done so, to little apparent effect.
controversial things about the film are, first, in Islam doomsday should not be visualised or predicted, it's the secret of God, council chairman Amidhan told AFP: For the common people, the portrayal of doomsday in this film could distort their
faith -- that's what I'm worried about.
He also complained that the film showed mosques being destroyed but not churches, despite sequences depicting the Vatican collapsing and Rio de Janeiro's monumental Christ the Redeemer statue crumbling
The film shows that everything including Kaaba (Islam holiest shrine) and mosques were devastated except for churches. The film is a provocation against Islam, Amidhan said: The Indonesian film censorship body should have cut
part of the scene on the devastation of mosques or the Kaaba because it hurts the Muslim people.
Chinese censors did their thing with Obama's call for freedom of speech on the internet
President Obama made his first visit to China this week and in a talk with Chinese students, Obama issued a call for internet freedom. Obama spoke about
internet freedom and free speech. Ironically, the comments made by Obama regarding free speech and internet freedom became targets of the Chinese internet sensors and fell prey to The Great Firewall of China.
The Boston Globe quotes Obama
saying, I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free internet - or unrestricted internet access - is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger
the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.
The irony of the statements by
Obama is that full transcripts of the speech posted on the Netease portal reportedly lasted online for only about 27 minutes before the censors pulled them and redacted the statements about internet freedom.
No more bars and no more mistresses, say Chinese government officials, in a morality campaign to control corruption in their ranks, says a new AP report.
Apparently, a huge majority of officials recently investigated for corruption have one
or more mistresses, and because of that, might be tempted to do whatever it takes to get or keep them, leading apparently desperate men to do desperate things - such as abuse their power to get money.
Other attempts by the communist party to whet
their population's collective appetites include morality enforcers who want bars, lewd or pornographic material, and other freedoms ended or curtailed.
This is certainly in keeping with party control of the Chinese people in a number of
other invasive ways, such as forced abortions (even for married couples), internet shut-downs, and the lack of freedom suffered by most as the toil in factory jobs and other struggling industries.
News reports are talking about the movement of
many modern Chinese to quit the Chinese communist party. It seems almost certain that the new ethics drive will accelerate this movement!
Rising censorship has triggered an implosion of China's most independent news publication, Caijing magazine.
Caijing editor Hu Shuli and most of her editorial team have resigned after its founder and chief backer, Wang Boming, reportedly did not
take her side in a series of editorial battles with the Chinese Government.
The New York Times said the Politics and Law Committee, led by security tsar Zhou Yongkang, ordered in July that Caijing be rectified after it failed to follow
directions on reporting the riots that month in Xinjiang.
Hu is now trying to gain clearance to start a new publication called Caixin. The vast majority of Caijing's reporters and editors are hoping to join the new project, according to an editor
who resigned as a result of the censorship.
We hope to start the new magazine before the end of the year, he said. It will be a challenge. But we had no choice. To stay we would have had to have traded our independence.
Caijing's publisher plans to continue and has begun hiring a replacement editorial team.
A group of Thai politicians and generals have accused a Times journalist of insulting the country's monarchy by reporting comments by Thaksin Shinawatra an offence that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The complaint against Richard
Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor of The Times, derives from an interview with Thaksin that was published in Monday's newspaper and on Times Online the day before.
According to the Bangkok Post, members of a group of Thai monarchists called Siam
Samakkhi (United Siam) have made an allegation of lèse-majesté against Thaksin and Lloyd Parry. The Government blocked parts of Times Online from being accessed within the country.
Kasit Piromya, the Foreign Minister, said: Thaksin's interview is a violation of the monarchy, which is the country's core pillar and a highly respected institution. It is unacceptable and should have never taken place.
It is not clear which parts of the interview led to the complaint by four members of Siam Samakkhi. They include Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, a critic of Thaksin, and General Somchet Boonthanom, the former head of the Thai Council for National
Chinese players of World of Warcraft , one of the world's most popular online games, may be out of luck after a government regulator rejected an application from the game's new licensed operator.
The General Administration of Press and
Publication (GAPP) has terminated Chinese Internet portal NetEase's application seeking approval for the game, the agency said in a statement.
NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a
trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to revise harmful content in the game, it said.
World of Warcraft , developed by California-based company Activision Blizzard Entertainment, was previously licensed to
another Chinese firm, The9, which ran the game in China for four years from 2005, earlier media reports said.
NetEase announced in April that it had won a three-year licence for the game from Blizzard after The9's licence had expired.
Analysts said it was uncertain if GAPP's rejection would lead to a permanent ban in China as NetEase in April received approval from the culture ministry, which is also tasked with regulating computer games.
The chaos is mainly due to the vague demarcation of responsibilities between GAPP and the Ministry of Culture, said Liu Ning, a Beijing-based analyst with research firm BDA China.
Thai police have arrested two people for allegedly spreading rumours about the health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
One of them was charged with spreading false information through a computer that undermined national security.
81, was admitted to hospital in September with fever and fatigue. His health is a highly sensitive topic in Thailand. Rumours about the king's health triggered a slump in Thai stock prices in October.
Thai officials said Teeranun Wipuchanin, a
former stock trader, was detained at Bangkok airport on Sunday. She was later charged with feeding false information through a computer system, which undermined Thailand's national security. She faces up to five years in prison and a $3,000
Ms Wipuchanin said she had translated an article by a foreign news agency and posted it online to share information with stock traders and internet users. Everybody on that day wanted to know what caused the market to fall.
The stock market had already dropped and we did the translation in the evening, she was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
The other suspect, Katha Pajariyapong, was arrested in Bangkok. He reportedly posted a message on the same topic
on a website.
On 25 Dec 2012, the Criminal Court found Katha Pachariyaphong guilty on two counts under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and sentenced him to 6 years in prison, but
reduced the prison term to 4 years due to his guilty plea.
Katha was found guilty of posting two comments in April and October 2009 on sameskybooks.org webboard.
According to the court verdict, the defendant's first comment posted on 22
April 2009 led the general public to understand that HM the King favoured the yellow shirts and Princess Sirindhorn also did the same, and the other post on 14 October 2010, which concerned rumours about the King's health, led the general public to
understand that HM was seriously ill. The comments were false, damaging national security and causing panic among the public, the court said.
Bangladeshi authorities called in police over the weekend to prevent the opening of a photographic exhibition about Tibetans in exile that Chinese diplomats wanted banned.
The photojournalism event had been organised by Students for a Free
Tibet with support from the Drik network. Dhaka Special Branch police officers moved in to bar visitors after the head of Drik, Shahidul Alam, refused to cancel the event.
Entitled Tibet 1949 2009, the photo exhibition intended, to
portray, in whatever small fraction, the journey of Tibetans from their homeland to exile. The exhibition was expected to run from 1-7 November.
According to reports from www.mediahelpingmedia.org Alam had earlier been contacted by Qian Kaifu,
Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Bangladesh, who asked him to cancel the exhibition, suggesting that the Bangladesh-China relationship would be affected if the show went ahead.
Alam says he was offered
partner opportunities in China in return, but reminded Mr Kaifu that Drik was an independent gallery, unconnected with the government of Bangladesh. Alam says he was called the next day by the Bangladesh ministry of culture saying China is a friend,
you mustn't show pictures of the Dalai Lama. When he declined again, the Special Branch were called in.
You've taken a trip to Hong Kong and are returning with a stack of reading material that you can't normally find on the mainland. To your dismay, the customs agent seizes your books, but won't tell you why. What do you do? Sue!
reported last week on a professor who is suing a customs office in Guangzhou over the confiscation of seven books he brought back from Hong Kong.
Most of the books that Feng Chongyi had confiscated by the Tianhe Terminal Customs Office were
written by mainland authors and did not violate national laws or regulations. But the heart of his complaint is more general: there is no publicly-available index of banned books, and no clear public standard of what constitutes illicit printed material.
Feng argues that this violates Chinese law.
The ban on a book published by Sisters in Islam (SIS) is illegal, irrational, and inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, the Malaysian High Court heard.
SIS also contended that then Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who ordered
the ban, had no authority to do so.
In their submissions, counsel for SIS Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and K. Shanmuga told Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof that under the constitutional framework, Islam was a state matter and as such, fell exclusively
within the purview of the state governments.
The minister does not have the requisite legal competence and/or authority to arrive at conclusions on matters pertaining to Islam. It would be necessary for the state religious authorities to have
firstly concluded on the matter (where it pertains to Islam) before the minister could exercise his discretion, Malik Imtiaz said at the first day of hearing yesterday, adding that these pre-conditions were not met.
On Dec 15 last year, SIS
Forum (Malaysia) had applied for leave for a judicial review of an order banning the 215-page book entitled Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism. It is a compilation of essays based on research by renowned international scholars and
activists, and the book was edited by sociologist Prof Noraini Othman of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Institute of Malaysia and International Studies.
The ministry had banned the book under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications
Act 1984 on grounds that it was 'prejudicial to public order' .
Filipino director Lav Diaz may have been paying homage to the late actor Marlon Brando when he was invited to the 8th Italian film fest. Asked to speak about his experience in winning awards at the recent Venice film fest, he instead sent actress Angeli
Bayani to read his speech:
In 2007, my film Death in the Land of Encantos competed and won Special Mention at the Orizzonti section of the festival. The following year, in 2008, my film Melancholia competed in
the same section and won the Orizzonti Prize.
The Board of Censors here in the Philippines banned my films. There's nudity and sex, they said. Without proper critical viewing of my films by the honorable members of the
Board of censors, they deemed the films not appropriate for viewing here in their country of origin. They banned other works, too.
And lately, they have been encroaching on the freedom of venues like the Adarna Theatre
of the University of the Philippines. I'll say it again: Censorship is poison to cinema. Censorship is poison to the arts. Censorship is poison to culture.
The Thai operator of a waxworks museum in Pattaya has covered up a giant billboard of Adolf Hitler giving a Nazi salute after complaints from the Israeli and German ambassadors that it was offensive and utterly tasteless .
billboard - along with three others featuring famous dead people - is prominently located on the main highway into Pattaya, as part of an advertising campaign to promote Louis Tussaud's Waxworks which is due to open early next month. The Thai slogan on
the billboard reads: Hitler is not dead.
The managing director of the museum, Somporn Naksuetrong, apologised for the billboard and said the creative agency behind the campaign had not intended to cause offence: In the museum we don't
show him with other world leaders, we show him in the scary section. Somporn said since the billboard was erected more than two weeks ago they had received about 100 complaints and a protest letter from the Israeli Embassy. He said they would keep
the promotional concept, but come up with another famous deceased person to replace the German dictator.
German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher noticed the billboard when he attended the opening of the Child Protection and Development Centre in
Pattaya last weekend. He told representatives of the Pattaya City Council and the local business community that this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people . It could also create negative consequences to
Pattaya as a popular tourist destination, the embassy said in a statement, adding it had contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the matter.
Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Shoham said the embassy had received many complaints over the
billboard and had asked authorities involved to urgently remove this hateful street sign . Shoham said many Israeli tourists holidaying in Pattaya have been horrified to see such a sign on the main highway. It is totally unacceptable to have
such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display, he said. How this could happen is beyond my understanding and comprehension. He also urged the operators to remove the Hitler waxwork from the museum.
Li Pengyi, vice president of China Publishing Group Corporation (CPGC) was pleased with business at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But was not so impressed at the criticism of China's censorship.
We don't feel we've been hospitably treated, he
said. China sent more than 2,000 people to Frankfurt. And now this barrage of criticism.
The German media, intellectuals and politicians have been pummelling China all week, attacking it for jailing writers, for refusing to include
dissident authors in the official party and for trying to paint a false image of Chinese harmony.
The delegation from China, which arrived so proudly in Frankfurt, is clearly hurt by the hostile public reaction in Germany.
We were not
expecting to be treated like this, said Zhao Haiyun, spokesman for the state-run General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). He said China had put on an impressive exhibition and arrived with a well-thought-out cultural programme. But
instead of dwelling on Chinese literature, the German media had focussed on human rights policy.
GAPP is China's principal censorship body, since it decides what may be published in China and what not. Zhao's colleagues supervised the Chinese
programme at the fair.
There should be no taboos in the debate, and I am sure there won't be any, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech at the opening of the fair.
It was a clear riposte to listening Vice-President Xi
Jinping, who had just uttered an appeal to the same audience for understanding and respect from the German hosts. Li, of publishing house CPGC, fumed about the remark. If Germany or Merkel had been playing the guest role in China, we would
never dream of addressing them in such a way, he said.
In the past few days, Chinese twitterers reported that the Chinese censor has blocked a number of popular Twitter's third party applications.
Since Fanfou, the Chinese micro-blogging website, has been ordered to shut down earlier this year,
many bloggers moved to Twitter to spread their ideas. Net activists believe that it is impossible to block Twitter as there are many third party applications that allow users to read and post information without accessing the site. However, beginning
from early this week, many Chinese twitterers reported that popular third party applications such as twitpic, itweet, twitese, twittergadget have been blocked and they have to shift to other tools.
When you search #fuckgfw (great fire wall) in
twitter, you can see the most updated blocking reports.
China has banned Web sites from advertising or linking to games that glamorize violence. A notice posted on the Culture Ministry Web site on Monday said games that promote drug use, obscenities, gambling, or crimes such as rape, vandalism and theft are
against public morality and the nation's fine cultural traditions.
Such online games promote the glorification of mafia life . . . and are a serious threat to the moral standards of society causing vulnerable young people to be adversely
affected, the notice said. The ban on the Web sites starts immediately.
No details were given on how the law would be implemented, but the notice called for law enforcement bodies to ensure Web sites adhere to the new law.
The chief organizer of the Frankfurt Book Fair condemned censorship in China just before the biggest annual meeting of world book publishers was to open in Germany.
Human rights groups had previously accused the organizers of pandering to China,
which is this year's guest of honour, a status that allows it to stage a cultural exhibition at the fairgrounds and win special attention from the German arts media.
We strongly condemn the human rights breaches and the restrictions on freedom
of opinion and the press in the People's Republic of China, said chief organizer Juergen Boos.
But he insisted China had been an excellent choice as this year's focus nation, saying, You can marvel at China, fear it or criticize it, but you
can't ignore it. He said dialogue with China was likely to bring change, but a book fair was not the United Nations.The subject here is literature. We can describe conflicts, but we can't solve them here.
The Frankfurt Book Fair's 61st edition opens on Wednesday with a bust up over censorship with guest of honour China overshadowing preparations.
In mid-September, a symposium organised ahead of the world's biggest book fair generated fireworks with
two dissident Chinese intellectuals initially invited and subsequently de-programmed owing to protests from Beijing.
Following a German uproar, the pair were finally asked again to attend, causing part of the official Chinese delegation to
China's ambassador to Germany, Wu Hongbo, called the action by the fair's hosts unacceptable , and said it was not an expression of respect for their Chinese partners .
But Herbert Wiesner, head of the German
chapter of the writer's defence organisation PEN, said that Chinese organisers have mistaken themselves for state censors. It's frightening.
In Berlin last week, fair director Jrgen Boos said organisers had known there would be
protests: There is no doubt there is censorship in China. We are far from a democracy. But when the contract was signed with Beijing three years ago, we stipulated there would be complete freedom of expressio .
Boos stressed that our
role is not political, it is meant as a platform for the freedom of expression: We will authorise all forms of demonstration allowed in Germany.
On 3 July Chinese government censors blocked access to Danwei.org, the website I have edited from my home in Beijing since 2003. It is hosted outside China, so it's easy for zealous regulators to flip an electronic switch and restrict access. Most of
our content is translated from the Chinese media and internet, which gave us a certain amount of protection: most Chinese people who write or publish in China self-censor; this is why we had escaped the censor's wrath. Until July.
This year -
after a period of relatively relaxed controls - the bodies who censor information and culture have come back with a vengeance. There are several reasons: 2009 has seen a number of sensitive anniversaries, including the 4 May student uprisings of
1919, the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and Tiananmen Square in 1989. Although Tibet has been relatively calm this year, the riots in Urumqi in July added greatly to the tense atmosphere in Beijing. Government nervousness about the internet was exacerbated by
hype in the western press about Twitter bringing democracy to Iran. Another factor is the financial crisis, which has made mass unrest more likely.
A spokeswoman for Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy has said that the Internal Affairs Department and the Ministry of Justice were considering potential amendments to the Classification Act.
New Zealand's unwieldy and expensive censorship laws are so outdated they are at odds with the Bill of Rights, a media law specialist says. Censorship laws had not kept up with technological change, resulting in a confused
patchwork of rules, Victoria University law lecturer Steven Price said.
For example, films and television series did not need to be classified to be shown on television, but required a classification to be sold or rented on DVD. It's
difficult to say restrictions are justified in one case and not in another, and that's where you're going to strike Bill of Rights issues, Price said. Content should be treated uniformly regardless of format, and legislative changes needed to be
future-proofed, he added.
His comments came as an on-line campaign for censorship reform gained support from DVD retailers, distributors, libraries and the film industry.
Campaign founder Andrew Armitage, who runs Wellington's Aro St Video
Shop, said a government review of censorship laws was long overdue. The public has missed out on access to many DVD titles because retailers and distributors were often wary of investing in potentially unprofitable classification costs, he said.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification charged $1100 per disc to classify unrated films or television series, which amounted to
economic censorship , Armitage said.
It was unjustifiable that broadcasters were not subject to the same costs, he said.
Chief Censor Bill Hastings said the campaign for reform seemed to be motivated by the economic pressures facing
the DVD industry, rather than the workability of the classification system: I think to some extent we're an easy target here, and there may be changing economic patterns as much to blame as censorship fees.
Classification fee waivers of up
to 75% were available, and retailers and distributors could cooperate to share the cost of classifying DVD titles. The law needed to be updated for the digital age, but did not require major surgery, Hastings said: Why throw the baby out with the
bathwater if you can achieve what you want to achieve through tweaking the existing legislation?
Malaysia's Ministry of Information Communication and Culture has rebuffed allegations the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) abused its power in controlling the new media and condemns comparisons to Adolph Hitler's secret Nazi
police Gestapo .
The ministry said in a statement that the allegations showed that certain groups were attempting to tarnish the image and ridicule the commission as an independent body that regulates the country's Internet facilities and
content. It noted that regulatory measures undertaken by the MCMC, Malaysia's ICT regulator, had always been transparent, fair and balanced .
In fact, the commission is an agency that upholds and protects government policies. This has
been proven because to date, Malaysia is among the countries that do not impose any restriction on the Internet, except for Web sites that contain pornography, threats to the national security and fraud, the ministry said. It confirmed that certain
sites had been closed through legal processes, in line with provisions under the Communications and Multimedia Act.
The ministry said comments by owners of Web sites that had accused the MCMC of purportedly closing down their sites and acting like
Gestapo were slanderous . What had occurred on the day in question was a technical disruption that resulted in the Web sites concerned to be inaccessible to the public, it said.
The ministry did not specify the sites it referred to
in its statement but in the past month, the MCMC has been accused of pulling the plug on Malaysia Today, a blog known for its anti-government stand. The Commission had also been investigating online political news portal Malaysiakini over the posting of
two allegedly offensive video clips. The political news site later refused to comply with a Sep. 3 order issued by the MCMC to remove the videos.
The investigation had generated a deluge of negative publicity for the government, including
statements from international lobby groups describing the MCMC's action against Malaysiakini as harassment .
Chinese authorities has begun blocking the intermediate nodes and servers, directory services on the basis of the Tor anonymizing their IP addresses.
In the columns of Tor's blog can be read that the great firewall (GFW) is
blocking communication with about 80% of the Tor node. Author of note also admitted that it was expected this turn of events.
Already in the middle of last year, China blocked Tor website. Therefore, the operator of the website and its creators
tried to be the protection of the new Tor servers, to prevent the Chinese authorities to get into the list of public nodes - the intention is apparently failed.
Although the establishment of an anonymous connection is still possible using the
remaining 20% of the nodes, but such an operation takes a long time. Author of this blog entry advises users that you run a Tor private goals (so-called bridge relays) if they want to help Chinese colleagues. This kind of goals do not appear on public
lists, and thus difficult to find and block.
Indonesian artist Agus Suwage knows what it is like to run up against the religious conservatives. Four years ago, he was hauled into parliament, where lawmakers accused him of blasphemy and of producing pornography dressed up as art.
facing an even more restrictive climate in Indonesia, Suwage refuses to be silenced and has made those restrictions the focus of his art.
His latest exhibition, which opened at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute this month, highlights what he
sees as a growing conservatism in Indonesia.
Many of the works probably could not be shown at a big public exhibition space in Indonesia following the passage of a controversial anti-pornography law last year.
Art and this law cannot
be reconciled. There is art and then there is this law and they are very far apart, Suwage told Reuters in an interview.
Suwage's latest works are a series of prints of female nudes overlaid with the actual text of Indonesia's 2008
anti-pornography law, under which a person can be charged for any public activity that incites sexual desire.
In several of his new prints, the area around the nude's genitals has been cut out completely. In a nod to the issue of
censorship, the cut-outs in three artworks have been filled with images of Suwage covering his eyes, ears or mouth.