Horror films were effectively banned in Malaysia for three decades for celebrating the other-worldly in violation of Islamic teachings. But since strongman premier Mahathir Mohamad retired in 2003, and popular culture was allowed to relax a bit, they
have risen from the dead.
Three of Malaysia's six top-grossing films are fright flicks made in the past two years, and the genre made up more than a third of domestic movies in 2011.
Horror films have struck a chord because they reflect the
country's village culture and the traditional superstitions that trouble Malay hearts, says director Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nazri. Horror movies are the type that will be close to our culture, said the director of 2011 box-office hit Ghost Pillion
Rider , about a motorcycle speedster haunted by the spirit of a girl who died aboard his bike.
After a 30-year lull in Malaysia when censors stopped approving scary movies citing Islamic, Fragrant Night Vampire hit screens in
2004. The film, about a pontianak , or vampiress spirit, a recurring Malay legend and movie subject, was a huge hit and even won accolades abroad.
Malaysian filmmakers suddenly realized there is a lot of money to be made in horror films,
so they jumped on the bandwagon, said Andrew Hock Soon Ng, a film expert: However modern we are, we are still very much regulated by our traditional belief systems .
Mahathir, still an influential repressive voice, last year called such
films a bad influence that stoked panic. The National Fatwa Council, which issues Islamic edicts, called them counter-productive to building a developed society.
However there has been no fatwa or any hint of a new ban actually appearing,
but like all Malaysian movies, horror films are policed by the Film Censorship Board. It orders objectionable scenes cut and positive messages inserted, such as Islam winning out in the end over the supernatural. In Ghost Pillion Rider , for
example, the reckless motorcycle-racing protagonist repents, becoming more religious and responsible.
Chinese officials have confiscated more than six million publications deemed illegal during the first two months of this year. In all about 1,442 cases were involved, China's national pornographic and illegal publication office said.
has intensified investigation and punishment to some government authorities who serve as a protective shield for the illegal act of producing and selling porn and illegal publications, a statement said. It will launch stricter crackdowns in sectors such
as printing, Internet communication and publication market to eliminate illegal publications, it said.
The repression of pornography and illegal publications has expanded in scope from printed publications to online releases in recent years.
Chinese internet users develop coded language to work around banned words
Thanks to Nick 15th March 2012. From rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com
Don't look at me.. I was just out getting soy sauce
Scaling the wall. Buying soy sauce. Fifty cents. A mild collision. May 35. Mayor Lymph. River crab.
These words --- mild, silly, inoffensive --- are part of the subversive lexicon being used by Chinese bloggers
to ridicule the government, poke fun at Communist Party leaders and circumvent the heavily censored Internet in China. A popular blog that tracks online political vocabulary, China Digital Times, calls them part of the resistance discourse on the
Perry Link, the author of Liu Xiaobo's Empty Chair , described the use of code words and Aesopian allegory by Mr. Liu and other popular bloggers like Han Han: Harmony, for
example, is a key word used in the government's rhetoric, and Internet writers use hexie, or river crab, which is a near-homonym of the Chinese word for harmony, to mean repression.
To be harmonized, these days, is to be
Officials are aware, of course, of its barbed meaning on the Internet, said the Chinese writer Yu Ha in an essay in the IHT Magazine, but they can hardly ban it, because to do so would outlaw the 'harmonious
society' they are plugging. Harmony has been hijacked by the public.
[A few] days ago, Beijing was hosting an innovative tug-of-war for the elderly; this game has nine contestants in all, wrote one internet user, in a thinly veiled reference to the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's
top political body.
The first round of the contest is still intense. The teletubby team noticeably has the advantage and, relatively, the Master Kong team is obviously falling short.
Teletubby is code for Wen Jiabao, who
chided Bo publicly before his ousting - the Chinese version of the children's TV show, Tianxianbaobao, shares a character with the Premier's name. The popular instant noodle brand Master Kong is known as Kang Shifu in Chinese and stands in for Zhou
Yongkang, who is reportedly supportive of Bo.
The London Book Fair is facing claims it has bowed to pressure from Chinese authorities by failing to invite dissident and exiled writers to next month's event and choosing only state-approved authors.
Bei Ling, an exiled poet and essayist, has
written to the British Council, the organisers of the cultural programme of the fair, which is one of the biggest international publishing events in the world, expressing his surprise over its plans to host Chinese state-approved writers and
I was amazed that no independent voice, no exiled or dissident writer from China is being represented at the London Book Fair, he told the Guardian, accusing the fair, which is focusing on China this year, of self-censorship
to keep Chinese authorities on board.
It is shocking enough that the book fair has worked with Gapp (General Administration of Press and Publication, the agency responsible for regulating publications in China). In order to ensure that their
guest country was happy they exercised self-censorship and didn't push for other, non-state-approved writers, although without them you don't get a full picture of literary China, he said.
The South Korean government has proposed further measures to prevent teenagers from easy access to pornographic websites and adult content on mobile phones.
Social security numbers will no longer be used for the age verification needed to view
adult content. Social security numbers have been frequently stolen and used by teenagers to gain access to pornographic sites.
Instead, credit card numbers and an Internet personal identification number called i-PIN will be used for online
identification from August.
The government will also distribute software that will block access to adult content on smartphones within the first half of the year as well as a content-filtering program that will recognize adult material by
analyzing colors and sounds of the content and turn them off by default, according to officials.
The government plans to make it mandatory for all online file-storage companies, dubbed webhard services in Korea, to be equipped with content
blocking programs. Webhard services have been regarded as the main source for teenagers downloading adult content.
The government will also increase penalties for internet porn related offences.
A high-ranking member of Indonesia's highest Islamic authority has urged Muslims not to attend Lady Gaga's upcoming concert in Jakarta, declaring that the pop star was forbidden under Islamic law.
[The concert is] intended to destroy the
nation's morality, said Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) chairman Cholil Ridwan, who added that he had never watched the singer perform and only heard of her reputation second-hand.
He urged Lady Gaga fans to return their tickets for
the June 3 concert at Gelora Bung Karno and ask for a refund.
Cholil took exception with Lady Gaga's revealing outfits and sexualized dance moves, claiming that a female dangdut singer who wore similar costumes would also be haram.
claimed Lady Gaga was worse. She is from the West, and she often shows her aurat [private parts of the body] when performing, Cholil said.
But another MUI chairman, Slamet Effendi Yusuf, said Cholil's words were only his personal opinion.
The organization has not issued a haram fatwa, a move that would require all MUI chairmen to reach a consensus.
The New Scientist has reported on a study into the way that that Great Firewall of China censors internet users and particularly how this has been adapted to social networking sites.
As expected, the communists are hypersensitive to criticism of
the state - but also to people slating internet censorship itself.
The US study also shows Beijing's censorship machine adapts quickly to emerging issues. It's also location-dependent, being far more active, when required, in dissident regions.
David Bamman, a computer scientist and linguist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, got the idea for the research last summer when he noticed how quickly false rumours of the death of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin disappeared from
China's Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo. So with colleagues Noah Smith and Brendan O'Connor he decided to study the censorship mechanism more closely.
They studied the Twitter like Sina Weibo and download nearly 57 million messages for a snapshot of
3 months. They then compared these with Sina Weibo's archive to see which tweets were deleted.
As might be expected, criticism of state propaganda was not tolerated. Messages attacking China's Ministry of Truth were zapped, as were ones
involving calls for the resignations of incompetent government officials, such as that of the railways minister after a horrific train crash . Complaints about Fang Binxing - architect of the web censoring Golden Shield Project, nicknamed the
Great Firewall - were also highly deleted - as were mentions of a pair of Communist Party meetings which became a code word for arranging pro-democracy protests last spring.
The researchers suggest that this agility and infrequent updates to more
background censorship issues points to a high level of human involvement and a nuanced approach, rather than total automation. There also seems to be a priority system by location. Bamman explained: In Tibet there was an overall deletion rate of 53% -
against 12% in Beijing and 11% in Shanghai. The research will be published in a forthcoming issue of the open access journal First Monday.
Men's magazine FHM pulled a magazine cover after being accused of racism.
The March edition of the Philippines FHM had featured white actress Bela Padilla posing in a pink swimsuit surrounded by dark-skinned models, accompanied by the caption stepping out of the shadows
When the magazine uploaded a sneak preview of the cover on their Facebook page, it was recieved with criticism from readers who branded the concept racist . One reader posted: Seriously, did you guys not sense how racist this
Comments on Twitter followed including shame on FHM Philippines , and accused the magazine of being racist as well as sexist and horrendously backwards .
Bosses at FHM were quick to respond and the
March edition of the magazine featured a different cover when it went on sale this week. Still Bela Padilla, but this time by herself.
And of course the 'controversy' has propelled the previously little-known actress, 'out of the shadows' and into
the spotlight. She appeared on BBC News this week to defend the thought process behind the original concept. Her name also began trending worldwide on Twitter where she has gained an army of new followers offering their support. Don't fault Bela, she
just did her job, one fan Tweeted.
Ten dangdut songs with the titles Jupe Likes 69 Best, Rocking Van, Sorry I Got You Pregnant, Accidentally Pregnant, Anything Goes, Just One Hour, Pimping Love, Breaking Womens' Law, Here's Something Long and Crocodile Hole have been banned
for broadcasting by Indonesian provincial censors.
Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian popular music that is partly derived from Malay, Arabic, and Hindustani music. It developed in the 1970s among working-class Muslim youth, but beginning in the
late 1990s reached a broader following in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines.
The West Nusa Tenggara Broadcasting Commission (KPID) has decreed that radio and television broadcasters are prohibited from airing the songs, which it
claims have pornographic lyrics.
The KPID took two weeks to examine 300 of the most popular dangdut songs after receiving a complaint from a nutter group which it said included academics and cultural scientists from the province.
KPID head, Badrun A.M., claimed that the body did not take the step to impose censorship lightly.
In principle we do not wish to curb the creativity of anyone's art, ... BUT ... the KPID also wishes to protect the public from the negative impacts of listening to these songs. There's the potential for
children and teenagers to copy what they hear.
The head of the broadcasting supervisory agency said that the words to Julia Perez' song Jupe Likes 69 Best were delivered in an erotic voice, with lustful sighs and emphasis on
lyrics which portrayed intimate relations and the singer's preferred mode of sexual intercourse.
More vulgar still, according to Badrun, was Rocking Van by Lia M.J. and Asep Rumpi, which he said, promoted sex outside of marriage, and went
into details of sex positions.
This is very vulgar, and completely inappropriate to be heard by our community here in West Nusa Tenggara. Not to mention 'Pimping Love' which tells the story of a husband who sells his wife as a prostitute ---
this does not represent our Eastern culture, he said.
Malaysian officials have ordered book shops to stop selling a sex education book by British author Peter Mayle.
Where did I come from? is banned from sale pending a review, a Home Ministry statement seen by the BBC said. It will be
banned completely if it is if it is proven to contain elements harmful to public morals and corrupt people's minds , said the statement from a senior official on Tuesday.
The book's cover states it is the facts of life without any
nonsense . The illustrated book aims to help parents explain to children such topics as sex, conception and birth.
Deputy secretary for safety, Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi, said in the statement: The ministry has obtained the co-operation of
book sellers around the country to immediately stop sales until the review is completed and the decision is made.
The Philippines Senate has now passed on final reading a proposed law with extreme penalties for cybersex, child pornography on the web, spamming, and other cybercrimes.
Under Senate Bill 2796, people engaging in cybersex-defined as the willful
engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system -will be imprisoned for 6 to 12 years or made to pay a fine of P200,000 to P1
The book Bloody Mama by Robert Thom was banned in New Zealand in 1971 on grounds of supposed indecency. Apparently it contains references to rape, incest, prostitution, cruelty and violence.
A second-hand copy of the book Bloody Mama at
Wellington second-hand booksellers Book Have n, was anonymously snitched up to the Department of Internal Affairs in November.
The book, which canvasses the true life story of 1930s gang leader Kate Ma Barker and her sons, had been
for sale for about a year, despite being banned by the now defunct Indecent Publications Tribunal.
This week the modern day book censors at the Office of Film and Literature Classification have reclassified the book as 'Unrestricted'. The censor
commented that the adult content was restricted to one or two pages and readers would be mature enough to handle it.
Book Haven owner Don Hollander said the ruling was marvellous . The book would be returned next week and he would frame it
to hang in the shop as a talking piece, he told NZ Newswire.
The book was made into a low-budget film starring Robert de Niro, that was also ludicrously banned in 1971. However, it was later reclassified R16 in 1981.
A Chinese webmaster has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $3,000 for operating a porn site using a US-based server.
China's National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications prosecuted Sheng Jiarong and cited him for
reaping advertising revenues though the website.
The censor claimed its heavy-handed approach is clamping down on the spread of porn through the Internet and mobile devices and helping it to improve the way it polices domestic sites that host
China's TV censor has announced that foreign TV shows will no longer be aired during prime time, state media report.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) says these shows cannot be aired from 19:30 to 22:00. The series
also cannot run longer than 50 episodes and should comprise no more than 25% of programming each day . Local TV channels are also not allowed to show too many shows from one particular region, the censor says, without explaining further.
Foreign shows also have to be approved before they are aired and cannot have violent or vulgar content. Stations that violate the new rules face
severe punishments , the newspaper reports.
Most foreign TV shows broadcast in China are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand.
The move comes after President Hu Jintao told members of the Communist Party last month that
officials should remain vigilant against Western cultural influences.
A New Zealand retailer, who was selling hooded tops with the words Jesus is a cunt emblazoned on the back has been fined in Invercargill District Court.
Warren Skill appeared on one charge of possessing an objectionable publication,
namely Cradle of Filth garments (four T-shirts and four hoodies).
He was fined $500 and an order was made for the destruction of the garments.
The charge was laid by the Internal Affairs Department under the Films, Videos and Publications
In 2008, T-shirts with the same wording were banned by then-chief censor Bill Hastings. The ban made any act of possessing, wearing, distributing or selling the T-shirt, or another top with the same wording and imagery,
The South Korean authorities should immediately release a social media activist accused of helping the enemy for re-tweeting messages from North Korea's official government Twitter account, Amnesty International said today.
a 24-year-old Socialist Party activist, was charged by South Korean law enforcement authorities with violating the country's national security law for re-tweeting the message long live Kim Jong-il from North Korea's official Twitter account.
Park, who says his re-tweets were meant to ridicule North Korea's leaders rather than support them, has been held at Seoul Detention Centre since 11 January and could face up to seven years in jail.
This is not a national security case, it's
a sad case of the South Korean authorities' complete failure to understand sarcasm, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.
Imprisoning anyone for peaceful expression of their opinions violates international law but
in this case, the charges against Park Jeonggeun are simply ludicrous and should be dropped immediately, he said.
Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry claims it has blocked nearly 1 million sites that carry pornographic content.
Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said the censorship of porn sites was in line with the
government's commitment to provide safe sites accessed by Indonesians and build a more positive character for the nation.
We've blocked more than 983,000 porn sites. We will keep on doing it, Tifatul said during a seminar on the Healthy and
Safe Use of the Internet. Tifatul added that the censorship would in turn improve people's ethics in using the Internet for positive purposes.
The Thai government becomes the first to publicly endorse Twitter's decision to permit country-specific censorship of content
Thai information and communication technology minister, Jeerawan Boonperm, called Twitter's decision a welcome
development and said the ministry already received good co-operation from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. The Thai government would soon be contacting Twitter to discuss ways in which they can collaborate , she told the
Thailand has some of the most repressive censorship laws in the world, ranking it 153 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders' 2011 Press Freedom Index. In particular these are used to target criticism of the monarchy. Lese-majeste
laws include punishments by up to 15 years in prison, but under Thailand's 2007 computer crimes act prosecutors have been able to increase sentences.
Thailand's endorsement could have profound ramifications across the region, said Sunai Phasuk of
Human Rights Watch Thailand, while it already adds more damage to an already worrying trend in Thailand . Twitter gives space to different opinions and views, and that is so important in a restricted society -- it gives people a chance to speak
up, he said. But if this censorship is welcomed by Thailand, then other countries, with worse records for human rights and freedom of speech, will find that they have an ally.
Vietnam's pop culture is attracting the attention of book censors who experts say are struggling to accept an increasingly brash literary scene.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, whose collection of comic rhyming slang was recently banned, said his
illustration of two gormless-looking soldiers kicking a grenade to each other may have caused the censors' ire. The caption reads Being a soldier you must always get noticed , an attempt to poke fun at the inflated, heroic image of the country's
military. I just thought it was funny, said Phong.
The 26-year-old artist said censorship only increased people's desire to read the book, entitled The murderer with a pus-filled head , which aims to reflect the street patois of
Phong said his book sold 5,000 copies in two weeks but was then discontinued, stoking under-the-counter demand that pushed prices to as much as 100,000 dong ($5), more than double its official cost.
would not confirm the specific reason for the decision to take Phong's book off the shelves. They also wouldn't provide figures on the number of books banned each year when asked by AFP.
However the censors have now indicated a willingness to
negotiate a revised version. Phong said he expects some illustrations will be removed and replaced with different popular slang and is confident a new book would not be seen as diluted.
Another controversial book, a collection of short stories by
journalist Nguyen Vinh Nguyen, was banned and its publisher fined for disseminating depraved and pornographic ideas, not in accordance with Vietnam's traditions and customs .
Readers really want the sort of products of a free publishing
environment, rather than what they are given now, which are books that have undergone 'treatment' and been sanitised, Nguyen told AFP.
The Philippines Senate has passed a bill penalizing cybersex and other online crimes.
Cybersex, under Senate Bill 2796, is defined as people engaged in the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any
lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system.
Violators can be imprisoned for 6-12 years, or fined between $4,500 and $23,000.
The bill also covers spamming, hacking etc.
National Cybersecurity Coordinating Council with members from enforcement agencies and government will implement the new law.
In fall 2009, I sat in a large auditorium festooned with red banners and watched as Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, China's dominant search engine, paraded onstage with executives from 19 other companies to receive the China Internet Self-Discipline
Award. Officials from the quasi-governmental Internet Society of China praised them for fostering harmonious and healthy Internet development. In the Chinese regulatory context, healthy is a euphemism for porn-free and crime-free.
Harmonious implies prevention of activity that would provoke social or political disharmony. Related
China's censorship system is complex and multilayered. The outer layer is generally known as the great firewall
of China, through which hundreds of thousands of websites are blocked from view on the Chinese Internet. What this system means in practice is that when one goes online from an ordinary commercial Internet connection inside China and tries to visit a
website such as hrw.org, the website belonging to Human Rights Watch, the web browser shows an error message saying, This page cannot be found. This blocking is easily accomplished because the global Internet connects to the Chinese Internet
through only eight gateways, which are easily filtered. At each gateway, as well as among all the different Internet service providers within China, Internet routers --- the devices that move the data back and forth between different
computer networks --- are all configured to block long lists of website addresses and politically sensitive keywords.
Thai Channel 3 looks to more child-friendly programming
There's not much left to censor on Thai TV and still social problems persist. Total failure to 'cure' any of the world's ills via censorship is always just
taken as a bogus justification for censoring more.
Thai Channel 3 soap opera fans will no longer get to see any kissing scenes.
The channel is now only allowing love scenes to feature kissing on the cheeks and foreheads, hugging and embracing.
Channel 3 is moving top more child-friendly
programming and more children programs.
Channel 3 Executive Prawit Maleenont has banned kissing in soap operas and told soap producers to go the traditional Thai love scene route with only kisses on the forehead and cheek and hugging and
Production executive for Channel 3 Somrak Narongwichai says this year's soap will reflect social problems and will be more realistic in that characters will have occupations and careers.
But of course less realistic in that
lovers will go round kissing each other on the forehead.
China will expand nationwide a trial program that requires users of the country's wildly popular Twitter like services to disclose their identities to the government in order to post comments online, the government's top Internet censor said.
Chen of the State Council Information Office, said at a news conference that registration trials in five major eastern China cities would continue until wrinkles were worked out. But he said that eventually all 250 million users of microblogs, called
weibos in China, would have to register, beginning first with new users.
Wang indicated that under the program, users could continue to use nicknames online, even though they would still be required to register their true identities. The reasoning
seems to be to limit the spread of malicious rumors, pornography, scams and other 'unhealthy practices' on weibos, which have become a major source of news for many Chinese.
In 2003, South Korea's conservative Grand National Party (GNP) struck back from losing a presidential race by enacting a new law which required online users to verify their real identities before posting comments on election-related web sites. The
legislation's stated goals were to to promote responsible online discourse and to protect the privacy of candidates, and it has accomplished its purpose to a limited extent. Yet the greater underlying political motive is clear to see --- the conservative
party that relies on older, less internet-savvy Koreans wanted to limit the influence of online media on election results.
In 2007, an election year, the proliferation of anonymous online slander was the stated cause for extending the real-name
system to web sites with over 300,000 daily visits.
In 2009, the real-name system was extended to web sites that received over 100,000 web sites per day. As of last year, this law applied to about 150 South Korean web sites.
government's efforts to control cyberspace have been formidable, but as a result of the real-name policy, South Korean web sites have become prime targets for hacking both from in and outside of the country. The number of hacking incidents reached a
momentous level last year, as a series of high-profile cyber-attacks made it clear that the real-name system was untenable --- the most notorious case being SK Communications' SNS Cyworld, which leaked personal information of over 35 million Koreans,
more than half of the national population.
The South Korean government also suffered an embarrassment when Google's YouTube refused to comply to the real-name verification system in 2009. Stating that freedom of expression must be upheld on the
internet, Google disabled video upload and comment functionalities from users accessing the site within S. Korea. Yet users only had to change their country setting in order to upload and comment on the site again, providing a legal loophole which
set-off a wide debate within the country. The incident prompted the KCC to initiate a legal review, and after mulling over whether to punish Google or not, decided to exempt it from the real-name law, which added oil to the fire. Korean companies that
have had to comply to the law --- that had incurred web development, monitoring, and security costs --- cited discrimination that put them at a competitive disadvantage to global companies.
On December 30, 2011, the KCC announced that it will
phase out the real-name verification system by 2014. This time, web sites that do not remove resident registration IDs and other sensitive information will be fined.
When lawmakers enact censorship they rather assume that the people doing the censoring are somehow morally or intellectually superior to people thought to be in need of censorship.
Tokyo recently enacted a law to give city government powers to
censor manga on grounds of promoting illegal or immoral sexual activity.
escapistmagazine.com have published a fine example showing the dregs of intellect that
may hide behind the label of 'censor'. This was taken from meeting minutes of the 2nd Miyazaki Prefectural Commission for the Promotion of Healthy Youth Development . At this point, the commission was discussing boys love and ladies
comics which, although not-pornographic, do tend to be rather risque.
Committee Member A:
In these books there is some violence and cruelty, and most have sexually provocative material.
In particular, many include scenes of women taking the lead ahead of men, and I think they'll promote the prejudiced view that women want this.
And if you keep getting these depictions of women taking the lead,
matters soon develop in a homosexual direction and it must become difficult to develop sexually in a normal fashion, mustn't it?
This may not always be the case, but I think for the male consciousness they may end up thinking they
cannot take the lead themselves, and so they tend to turn homosexual more often as a result.
I can't help but think it is very dangerous to our young people, should they see this sort of material mixed in amongst normal books.
No objection to these ideas were recorded in the minutes, but some comments have suggested this may be due to the Japanese custom of avoiding public criticisms of others, particularly those more senior.
The group suggested that
some manga should be labeled as urgently designated harmful entertainment, but did not recommend any specific titles for the classification.
A senior United Nations expert made a private visit to Bangkok to discuss and monitor restricted freedom of expression in the Kingdom, especially the controversial lese-majeste law.
Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, issued a statement last year expressing concern about Thailand's lese-majeste law.
He hopes he will be officially invited back later this year to examine the law and issues of
expression. Freedom of expression is a fundamental element of any democratic society, La Rue said, urging Thai authorities to do what they can to promote it.
La Rue met with members of the House of Representatives' Committee on Human Rights
and the Senate Committee on Human Rights, as well as with National Human Rights Commissioner Nirand Pitakwatchara.
He told a group of reporters that liberation movements around the world, the Arab Spring for example, were a consequence of lack of
freedom of expression.
Thai group expresses concerns about freedom of expression
group of prominent figures with royal lineage have appealed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to amend the lese majeste law. Eight people with royal lineage signed a letter which they sent to the PM asking the government to change the law.
letter said the number of lese majeste cases had increased substantially in the span of seven years, from zero in 2002 to 165 in 2009. News about these cases has been reported around the world and resulted in increasingly intense attacks on the
institution of the monarchy, it said.
The group cited in support of its move His Majesty King Bhumibol's address on Dec 4, 2005 in which he said putting people who criticised the monarchy in jail only caused trouble to him.
Sex and strong language on TV shows such as Outrageous Fortune has seen an increase in complaints to New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority over the past five years.
The authority claims increasing complaints reflect the unease some
feel at the speed of change in community standards, but nutter group Family First says those standards are being dragged lower by the authority's permissive stance.
The number of complaints received by the BSA which primarily related to issues of
taste and decency rose by almost 50% last year to 96 of which 47 were upheld, according to the authority's annual report.
While last year's numbers were inflated by a rash of complaints about broadcaster Paul Henry, the increase was also driven by
complaints about frequent coarse language used on Outrageous Fortune and sex scenes from the programme that were shown on 3News at 6.35pm.
Bob McCoskrie, head of Family First, said the trend of increasing complaints on issues of good taste
and decency reflected growing public unease about the graphic content and profanity of many TV shows.
A recent survey of 600 young New Zealanders aged 15 to 21 commissioned by Family First reported 57% of females and 45 per cent of males agreed
there was too much sex, violence, bad language on TV .
McCoskrie said the survey showed greater concern about sex, profanity and violence on television among older survey respondents:
Our concern is that
for the younger ones, 15 to 17, it becomes normalised which is our concern with broadcasting standards full stop in what you allow. The BSA tries to argue that they're representing community standards. We argue that they're creating community standards
by normalising it.
But BSA chairman Peter Radich said standards of good taste and decency were changing as they always had:
The pace of change is quickening and this is partly through the influence
that the unregulated internet has, more especially on younger people.
Some people find the pace of change unsettling and, as they are entitled to do, they complain. Complaints allow broadcasts to be measured against standards,
they allow temperatures to be taken, and for our part, they are welcomed.
Burma's movie industry once reached a certain level of acclaim---albeit in Southeast Asia. But state censorship under decades of military dictatorship has long robbed the country's filmmakers of the right to portray aspects of Burmese society such as
abject poverty, state oppression, and the wars in ethnic minority areas.
Despite the repression, there are signs that the industry might flourish once again if freedom returns to Burma---at least that is the message gleaned from the uncensored
award-winning movies at the Art of Freedom Film Festival in Rangoon, which was held from Jan. 1 to Jan 3.
Organized by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and comedian activist Zarganar, the festival, the first of its kind in Burma, chose
the top five out of 188 submitted short films for a prize-giving ceremony in Rangoon on Burma's Independence Day.
The movies, which were shown free of charge to Rangoon audiences, depict some of Burma's real life stories under military oppression.
The 35-minute movie, Ban That Scene , was voted Best Film by audiences. It satirizes film censorship and corrupt officials within the censorship board, in whose office hangs a sign which reads, Eye Everything With Suspicion.
I am encouraged by the films and I wonder how long these filmmakers were waiting for a chance to make these movies of freedom, wrote Zarganar on his Facebook page. He also expressed his deep frustration over the government clemency that saw
the release of just over 30 political prisoners while several hundreds remain behind bars. I expected that I would celebrate this film festival with my colleagues freed from prison, but now I wish to change this festival's name to the Festival of
Captivity, he said.
In any case, most artists and observers of the arts are encouraged that in allowing the festival to go ahead, the government's hardline stance toward film-making may be softening as part of its reform program. Many see the
festival as a heartening sign, but say they will remain unconvinced until there is a clear relaxation of rules at the state film and video censorship board.
Satellite broadcasters in China have cut entertainment TV by two-thirds following a government campaign, state news agency Xinhua has reported.
An order by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to curb excessive
entertainment came into effect on 1 January. The number of entertainment shows aired during prime time each week has dropped to 38 from 126, said the censor.
The order, which was issued in October 2011, limits each of the country's 34
satellite channels to two entertainment programmes each week and a maximum of 90 minutes of entertainment content every day from 19:30 to 22:00. Broadcasters are also required to air at least two hours of news programming between 06:00 and midnight. They
must each broadcast at least two 30-minute news programmes between 18:00 and 23:30.
Satellite channels have started to broadcast programmes that promote traditional virtues and socialist core values, SARFT said in a statement.
shows and reality TV are among the biggest casualties of the cuts. The list of restricted programmes also included talk shows and emotional stories that were deemed to be of low taste , said the Xinhua news report. However the SARFT statement also
said that popular dating shows and soap operas will still be on air during prime time on weekends.
Jeremy Clarkson, the TV presenter, has been ludicrously criticised for making trivial tasteless comments about the Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy in which 23 Chinese migrant workers died.
In a column for The Sun newspaper, Clarkson
mocked the sport of synchronised swimming as Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water , adding: You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe Beach. For free.
Hardly worthy of mention but Tracy Brown, a Morecambe town
councillor had a little whinge. She said:
I choose to ignore such comments and treat them with the contempt they deserve. In fact, this is beneath contempt. He is just trying to make himself look big at other people's
expense. Many people around here were deeply affected by the tragedy.
But then the tiff escalated to international levels: Ms Dai Qingli, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy, went well overboard. She said:
We deplore and oppose Mr Clarkson's comments, which are insulting and show a woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards. We regret that The Sun has publicised such remarks.
A Thai man who spread a disaster prophecy over the internet is facing legal action by the provincial administration organisation chief, who says the prediction has damaged Tak's economy.
Thongbai Khamsi, 73, a Chanthaburi resident, had publicised
claims made by his late son 37 years ago that Bhumibol Dam in Tak would burst at 10pm on Dec 31, 2011. Needless to say that the prophecy proved to be bollox.
Thongbai's son Suthas, or Pla Bu , was said to be a psychic and made his
prediction not long before he died at just seven years old of a brain tumour. His father claimed the boy had predicted his own death and had also foreseen the 2004 tsunami. His vision of the Bhumibol dam break included resultant major flooding in
downstream areas, including Bangkok.
The prophecy made its way on to the internet and the rumour spread rapidly.
The prediction had generated panic among locals and badly damaged the province's economy, said Songkhram Manassa, president of
the Tak provincial administration organisation. He filed a complaint with the local police against Thongbai, claiming he had made a false statement and publicised it online.
A large number of visitors flocked to the dam to either take part in the
New Year countdown festivities on its banks or to take photographs of the structure while it is still standing in case the prophecy comes true. Provincial authorities arranged the official countdown event at the dam as a way to prove their confidence
that the prediction is false.
A group of progressive Philippines lawmakers is pushing a bill aimed at reorganizing the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to address censorship problems in the country.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino said House Bill
(HB) No. 5561 seeks to protect and promote freedom of expression in motion pictures and television programs in the country.
The bill will ensure that the MTRCB shall exist to primarily classify motion pictures and television programs in order
to aid citizens, especially parents, in guiding and/or supervising their children and young adults in making choices with regard to films and television programs, said Casino, the bill's principal author.
Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan,
another author of the bill, said it is high time to replace a martial law relic by repealing the Presidential Decree that created the censorship body.