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Asia Pacific Censorship News

2012: July-Sept

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Update: Fifty Shades of Outdatedness...

New Zealand book censor passes Fifty Shades of Grey for unrestricted sale

Link Here26th September 2012

Shades of Grey fans in New Zealand will continue to have unrestricted access to the controversial trilogy following a decision by the chief censor.

The Chief Censor Office of Film and Literature classification has ruled to keep the sale of the book available without an age restriction.

Random House New Zealand managing director Karen Ferns said the decision was a victory for common sense and freedom of expression:

To have restricted publication would have put New Zealand out of step with comparable democratic countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Books with similar levels of explicit sexual content have been available for years.

The book was given an M certificate which is an advisory 16 rating.



Offsite Article: Chief Censor in Myanmar Caps His Red Pen...

Link Here22nd September 2012
U Tint Swe looked around his office and said he felt a personal sense of loss. I'm proud that I'm the one who stopped it, he said, referring to censorship. But now my office feels like a ghost town.

See article from



South Korea Recommends...

The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade

Link Here20th September 2012

South Korea has banned The 120 Days of Sodom by the 18th-century French nobleman and writer, the Marquis de Sade. It was written in 1785 but remained unpublished until 1905.

The book was banned for extreme obscenity, a Seoul official said. The Korea Publication Ethics Commission, a state review board, told the local publisher of The 120 Days of Sodom to recall and destroy all copies currently at stores, senior board official Jang Tag-Hwan told AFP. He explained:

A large portion of the book was extremely obscene and cruel, involving acts of sadism, incest, bestiality and necrophilia.

The book's extensive portrayal of sexual acts involving minors played a part in designating it a harmful publication, jang added.

The translated version of the book, which details the sexual orgies of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their mostly teenage victims, hit stores in the South last month. It is the first novel to be banned since 2008.

The publisher has vowed to appeal against what it labelled as a death sentence on the book and to take the case to court if the appeal is rejected. The book will still be available while the ban is under appeal.



Offsite Article: Dangerous Cinema...

Link Here7th September 2012
Chinese filmmakers risk it all to defy government censorship

See article from



Update: Ending a State Monopoly...

Burma set to allow the private sector to publish daily newspapers

Link Here3rd September 2012

Myanmar's new information minister has predicted newspapers would be able to publish daily from early 2013, heralding fresh reform for a sector recently freed from decades of draconian censorship.

Aung Kyi told the Myanmar Times that state-owned newspapers, currently the only news publications able to be printed daily, would also be revamped with private sector involvement in the coming months.

It is my sincere belief that daily [private sector] newspapers are essential for a democratic country, said Aung Kyi, who replaced a prominent hardliner last week when he was appointed as part of a cabinet reshuffle seen as promoting reformists in Myanmar's government.

He declined to give a firm date for the issuing of daily publication licenses to private sector news groups but estimated it could be early next year.



Update: Real Problems...

South Korean law requiring verified real names for website comments is struck down

Link Here1st September 2012

A law requiring South Korea's internet users to use their real names on websites has been struck down by a panel of judges.

The country's Constitutional Court said the rule restricted freedom of speech and undermined democracy.

The requirement was introduced in 2007 supposedly to tackle cyber-bullying. But the judges said users had switched to overseas sites where they continued to conceal their identity, putting local services at a disadvantage. There had also been complaints that the system had made it easier for cybercriminals to commit identity theft.

The internet real-name system stipulated that news media sites with more than 100,000 visitors a day had to record the real identities of visitors who had posted comments.

The idea behind the law was that users' details could be disclosed if the victims of malicious reports wanted to sue for libel or infringement of privacy. But the eight judges unanimously voted against the law saying the public gains achieved had not been substantial enough to justify restrictions on individuals' rights to free speech. They said that the policy discouraged people from criticising influential people and groups because of fears they would be punished.



Update: Shakespeare Lives...

Banned Thai film gets a showing at South Korean film festival

Link Here24th August 2012
Full story: Censored Films in Thailand...Thai censors hack away

Banned Thai political drama Shakespeare Must Die , directed by Ing K, will be among the films screening in the Asian Competition section of the 6th Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi).

The director said at the opening ceremony:

I thank CinDi for inviting my film even though they had to ship it under a secret name -- Teenage Love Story -- because the film is banned in Thailand, where people live in fear. I'm suing the government so I shouldn't even be here.

We are fighting because in Thailand, directors have less than human rights. But I promise Shakespeare Must Die is not boring. I made it like a Mexican soap opera and a Thai horror film. You can see it, even though Thai people can't see it.



Update: Ethically Correct...

Thai TV censors want to wean viewers off ethically incorrect TV soaps

Link Here23rd August 2012

Thailand's Daily News newspaper has reported the alarming news of the latest move by the Thai TV censor to improve the country's notorious soap operas.

Thais and even some foreigners who have been here long enough know how many of these popular TV melodramas are committed to over-dramatisation and stereotyping of characters.

Jealousy, class discrimination, chauvinism, exaltation of wealth and power, violence, typecasting and reinforcement of prejudices against people like housemaids, ethnic minorities and transvestites prevail in these television series. In recurring soap storylines, protagonists often can't seem to do anything wrong even when they commit some wrongs.

Daily News quoted Supinya Klangnarong, a member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), as saying guidelines will be issued to TV and radio producers addressing the negative aspects of Thai soaps in the hope that the industry can regulate itself. While such a code of ethics will be non-binding, a warning will have been given and the future granting or renewal of permits by the NBTC to produce TV and radio content will be conditional on a review of soap-opera content, she said.

Supinya, who chairs the committee for the promotion of self-regulation, was quoted as saying that she is aware that Thai soap operas are like sweets.

The more you eat the more delicious they become. But if you eat them everyday you will become fat. So [the challenge] is how to imbue Thai soaps with morality that will cultivate the hearts of viewers.

This writer can't help but wonder if Thailand will really become a good society if all TV stations air moralistic soap operas, along with religious programmes and mini-dramas extolling the virtues of the monarchy. Perhaps it depends on how you define a good society. I am concerned, however, that people will become increasingly unable to shoulder responsibility and apply common sense by themselves - and this can't be good.

...Read the full article



Update: End of an Era...

Burma ends pre-publication press censorship

Link Here21st August 2012

Burma has ended pre-publication censorship of the country's media, the information ministry has announced.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) said that as of Monday, reporters would no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication.

However, strict laws remain in place which could see journalists punished for what they have written.

Tint Swe, head of the PSRD, told AFP news agency:

Censorship began on 6 August 1964 and ended 48 years and two weeks later.

Any publication inside the country will not have to get prior permission from us before they are published.

From now on, our department will just carry out registering publications for keeping them at the national archives and issuing a license to printers and publishers..

The head of the BBC's Burmese Service, Tin Htar Shwe, says journalists in Burma are cautiously optimistic about the reforms, but that the end of the law does not necessarily mean the end of the censorship altogether. Many laws still exist under which journalists can be punished for writing material which angers or offends the government, she says.



Updated: Low Taste TV...

Chinese TV censors introduce further restrictions

Link Here18th August 2012

China's TV censor has introduced a raft of new restrictions for broadcasters which ban remakes and adaptations from online games, and cut back on humor and family spats in TV series.

The six guidelines issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) also require less violence, organized crime and low taste, and that TV series dealing with the Communist Revolution clearly distinguish between friend and foe, local media reported. Serials adapted from online novels are also not encouraged.

Foreign series are not allowed at peak viewing times between 7 pm and 10 pm, and cannot account for more than 25% of daily schedules. No foreign TV shows with over 50 episodes are allowed.

The new restrictions became effective a few days ago.

Update: Change of Censorial Heart

18th August 2012. See  article from

Two weeks ago, the folks over at SARFT announced a ban on six aspects of television drama, including banning shows adapted from web novels and web games. Or at least, we thought they did. Now SARFT say that story is false.

SARFT's vice bureau chief in charge of TV drama Wang Weiping said: It is impossible that the head office would come out with a ban like this.

However it's weird that the bureau waited so long to deny these reports. In fact, when the story was first breaking, an official representative from SARFT spoke to the Beijing News and answered at least one question quite cryptically but apparently did not deny that the report itself was accurate.

So it seems there has been a change of mind.



Offsite Article: The Golden Shield Project...

Link Here18th August 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
The mechanics of China's internet censorship

See article from



Update: Internet Black-out Day...

Online protest about internet censorship in Malaysia

Link Here15th August 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysian activists and bloggers are staging an online black-out for one day to protest against changes to a law they say restricts free speech online.

They have replaced their home pages with black screens critical of the Evidence Act, revised in April, for Internet Black-out Day.

Critics say the law makes people unfairly liable for content published from networks and personal devices. The revised law means that Malaysians could get into trouble even if their devices or internet connections have been hacked into, critics say.

Premesh Chandran, founder of online news site Malaysiakini, said that the burden of proof on internet users was unfair.

In other words, if defamatory comments are posted on a blog, the blog owner is likely to be sued or charged with criminal defamation, Malaysiakini said in a statement on its website.



Update: Press Censorship Continues...

Journalists refuse to become Burma's new press censors

Link Here15th August 2012

Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA) representatives have told Information Minister Kyaw Hsan that they will not take part in the new 20-member Myanmar Core Press Council (MCPC) until changes to reduce its censorship powers.

The MCPC was formed to censor the press until the new Media Law is passed later this year, but five MJA members on the council told a meeting that they will not take any part until amendments are made to its authority.

Thiha Saw, an MCPC member and vice-chairman of the MJA, said:

We asked to amend eight points in the MCPC's obligations and authorities as it now looks like it will be replacing the tasks of the censorship board.

We cannot perform the censorship board's job, he added. It is also against international standards. The council is to protect journalists and the freedom of the press.

Journalists asked to delete four points:

  • to supervise the work of the press which is deemed detrimental to the public interests, dignity of the state and national sovereignty;
  • to scrutinize imported publications so they conform with the national interest;
  • exercising authority in accordance with the Evidence Act, Penal Code, Code of Civil Procedure and Tort; and
  • MCPC members enjoying immunity from prosecution.

The MJA said that the current regulations contradict recent discussions with current press censors at the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD)..

Kyaw Hsan said that the MCPC's activities will be postponed until the dispute with the MJA is settled. In the meantime, the PSRD informed journals on Sunday that they must continue to submit stories to the censor board as usual.



Offsite Article: Changing Burma...

Link Here13th August 2012
In 2007, Fergal Keane reported for Index on the near impossibility of working as a reporter in Burma. Returning in 2012, he found much had changed. But restrictions remain.

See article from



Miserable Vietnam...

Airplane censors fine VietJetAir for bikini dance show

Link Here11th August 2012

Vietnamese officials have fined a budget airline for having beauty contestants in bikini-tops dance aboard a plane without authorisation, state-run media has reported.

VietJetAir was fined 20m dong ($956) for the Hawaiian-themed dance on its first flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang.

A statement on the company's website says that it wanted to capture a holiday atmosphere for its new flight route to Nha Trang, one of the country's most popular holiday destinations:

Once passengers stepped on board they were met by flight attendants dressed in beach holiday attire [who] performed a sexy Hawaii dance.

Nguyen Trong Thang, chief inspector of the country's civil aviation body, was quoted as saying that the airline had violated the local aviation regulations by organising unapproved show on a plane .



Updated: Envoy to the Press Censor...

Journalists protest broken promises on easing press censorship in Burma

Link Here8th August 2012

Dozens of journalists marched in Burma's main city, Yangon, to protest the suspension of two journals amid broken promises on easing strict censorship laws.

The Voice Weekly and The Envoy were suspended last week for failing to submit stories for pre-publication censorship. The chief censor said that the temporary suspension may last for a fortnight.

The editor of the Voice Weekly, Kyaw Min Swe, said the ban on his publication related to the front page story on a cabinet reshuffle and cartoons criticising the current media freedoms in the country.

The protesting reporters, many wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan Stop Killing (the) Press in Burmese and English marched to several sites across Yangon, including the two publishing houses behind the suspended weeklies.

A petition by the newly-formed press freedom committee called for an end to all oppressive media laws.

The government had recently taken a lighter touch on some of the less controversial publications, prompting some editors to test the boundaries of the new found freedoms.

Update: Unbanned

8th August 2012. See  article from

Reporters Without Borders and its partner organization, the Burma Media Association, welcomed the announcement by the government that it is lifting the suspension it imposed a week ago on two weeklies, The Voice and The Envoy. The two organizations said:

We take note of this decision and the fact that the government allowed journalists to express that discontent without obstruction.  But we will continue to monitor the situation closely and we reiterate our call for the withdrawal of legal proceedings against The Voice and another newspaper, Snapshot.

It is also high time the government disbanded its censorship office, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, which is not in any way legitimized by the lack of a new media law.

Several newspapers, including The Nation and The Messenger, voiced their support for the closed weeklies.The Messenger printed its front page in black with the article of the constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression in white letters.



Offsite Article: Vietnam's blog shame...

Link Here6th August 2012
Full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam
As a mother dies in protest at her daughter's detention, it's time for Britain to take a stand. By Kamila Shamsie

See article from



Update: Envoy to the Press Censor...

Journalists protest broken promises on easing press censorship in Burma

Link Here5th August 2012

Dozens of journalists marched in Burma's main city, Yangon, to protest the suspension of two journals amid broken promises on easing strict censorship laws.

The Voice Weekly and The Envoy were suspended last week for failing to submit stories for pre-publication censorship. The chief censor said that the temporary suspension may last for a fortnight.

The editor of the Voice Weekly, Kyaw Min Swe, said the ban on his publication related to the front page story on a cabinet reshuffle and cartoons criticising the current media freedoms in the country.

The protesting reporters, many wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan Stop Killing (the) Press in Burmese and English marched to several sites across Yangon, including the two publishing houses behind the suspended weeklies.

A petition by the newly-formed press freedom committee called for an end to all oppressive media laws.

The government had recently taken a lighter touch on some of the less controversial publications, prompting some editors to test the boundaries of the new found freedoms.



Bus Censors...

Internet petition gets violent movies banned from Thailand's buses

Link Here21st July 2012

The Thai Inter-provincial bus operator Transport Co has responded to a petition calling for movies containing violent content to be banned as on-board entertainment.

The online petition was led by Sajin Prachason who started the campaign at on July 13, calling on the company to stop showing violent films on coaches. The petition noted:

Like many parents, Ms Sajin doesn't let her young children watch violent films. But when she took a trip on the Transport Co's special air-conditioned coach from the Northeast to Bangkok recently, she and other travellers had to endure over two hours of throat-slashing and grenade-exploding in Rambo 4.

About 300 people signed the petition. Under's system, every time a person signs their name to a petition, an email will be sent directly to the decision-maker on the particular issue. In this case, the petition was sent to Wuthichart Kalayanamit, president of the Transport Co, and three other executives.

Wuthichart has now sent an email to Sajin saying he had received all the petitions and he would instruct bus conductors and attendants to make sure no 'inappropriate' movies are shown on the buses.



Update: No Ifs And Butts...

Hong Kong debates changes to censorship and obscenity law

Link Here16th July 2012

The Hong Kong government is having its second round of consultation in the review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance and the deadline for opinion submission is July 15, 2012.

In a press conference representatives from 15 local NGOs pointed out that because of the vague definition of indecency (cannot be viewed by under 18) and obscenity (cannot be distributed) in the existing ordinance, the judgement of the committee members in the Obscene and Indecent Article Tribunal (OAT) has been highly inconsistent and subjective.

The current consultation is about splitting censorship off from the judiciary. Currently the same body acts both as censor and judge, so that any transgression of censorship rules leads to uncontestable prosecution.

Representatives from more than 15 organizations urged the government to loosen up the control of obscene and indecent articles in a press conference on 12 of July, 2012.

Joseph Cho from NutongXueshe (a LGBT group) pointed out the highly prejudicious judgement had put social and sexual minorities in a very vulnerable position. Cho said:

For example when the heterosexual committee members of OAT see two men kissing, they may find that disgusting and classify them as 'indecent', while the same article showing man and woman kissing can be viewed by all ages, .

He urged the government to loosen up the moral line for the sake of building a diverse, tolerate and open society in which people with different cultures can live together in peace.

Lam Oiwan, a writer at whose article had been categorized at indecent back in 2007, pointed out that in order to prevent being prosecuted, both mainstream and online media have imposed very harsh self-censorship measures in the past few years. Lam explained:

Even though according to the ordinance there is exemption for articles that have artistic and scientific purpose, it is very difficult to implement as the judgement of OAT committee members is based on a single article (article-in-itself) without any additional and background information provided.

As a result, image such as Weiwei's artistic nude protest could easily be categorized as indecent if the committee members are ignorant of the artist and the political meaning of this artwork.

And as a final irony, the campaign poster by NuTongXueShe urging netizens to submit their opinions before the deadline was banned by Facebook citing the naked butt. Such images are usually categorize as Class I material in Hong Kong and can be viewed by all ages:



Update: The Truth is Hard to Find in China...

Tweeting 'the truth' is banned

Link Here15th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Chinese internet users were barred from searching the truth on its leading social media website. Attempts to search for the phrase were blocked on the Twitter-like site, which boasts 300million users.

Users noticed that if they typed in the Chinese characters for the truth , they received a message refusing to display any results. It read: According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for 'the truth cannot be displayed.'

It is not known how long the phrase search was blocked and if China's controlling Communist government intervened. But under Chinese law, social media firms are also required to self-censor.

Qi Zhenyu, head of social media for iSun Affairs, a Hong Kong-based current affairs online magazine that is banned in China, said of Weibo:

It is not unusual but it is quite ironic this time -- you can't simply block the truth.

Whenever there is a word that upsets them, they just go ahead and block [but] most of the time you can't really explain why they censor a certain word.



Update: Chinese TV Has No Balls...

News programme pixellates Michelangelo's David

Link Here12th July 2012

A Chinese television news programme censored footage showing Michelangelo's David by by covering the statue's genitals with a digital mosaic.

The statue was exhibited in Beijing as part of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the National Museum of China.

The move stirred a debate on internet, with general mockery of CCTV's lack of respect toward the work.

CCTV later removed the mosaic when it rebroadcast the programme.



Update: Pushing for Lifeless Entertainment...

China announces censorship requirements for online video

Link Here12th July 2012

SARFT, China's media censor has announced that online video will be required to be submitted for censorship prior to being published online.

A SARFT spokesman explainedthat original drama series and films on video websites like Youku and Tudou are mostly great, but that some need to be cut, citing violations such as repeated curse words, violence and sexuality. In the future, original productions destined for the internet will need to be approved by SARFT before they can be broadcast just like everything else.

SARFT claimed the move as a response to an outcry from internet users and industry needs. said:

Presumably this SARFT announcement means we can look forward to online programming quickly becoming as dull and lifeless as most television programming, which SARFT has been doing its damnedest to suck the fun out of for quite some time now.

It is not yet clear how the measure will be implemented nor its scope, in particular whether this will apply to user generated content.

Meanwhile, news of further push for censorship

See  article from

China is launching yet another new war on porn distribution. China Daily reported that the country's National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications said that the national campaign will last from mid-July to the end of November and will target vendors selling videos, books and magazines, as well as various forms of pornographic or vulgar online content. Also in the country's cross hairs are books that promote gang-related culture and songs that feature obscene content.

Update: User content to be pre-vetted by websites

12th July 2012. See  article from

Video websites are being told they must pre-screen all content that is deemed inappropriate. The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) revealed new censorship rules this week in a published series of answers to reporters' questions. Site administrators will apparently be given guidance on what is okay and what isn't. It remains to be seen how SARFT will enforce the new regulations, especially when it comes to user-generated content.

Many site owners will find it difficult to follow the new instructions since they suddenly have to find the resources to pre-screen everything that is uploaded. When it comes to doing business on the Internet in China, however, this is nothing new.



Update: Royal Pardon...

Joe Gordon jailed on lese majeste charges has been freed after a royal pardon

Link Here11th July 2012
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

An American Thai sentenced to two and a half years in Thai prison for translating a banned biography about the country's king and posting the content online has been freed by a royal pardon, the U.S. Embassy has announced.

Joe Gordon was convicted in December for translating excerpts of the book into Thai. The punishment was a high-profile example of the severe sentences meted out for criticism of the monarchy.

No reason was given for the pardon, but U.S. officials have pressed Thai authorities to release the Thai-born American since he was first detained in May 2011. US Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said.

We are pleased that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej granted Joe Gordon a royal pardon, which allowed him to be released from prison, Braunohler said. We urge Thai authorities on a regular basis, both privately and publically, in Bangkok and in Washington, to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations.



Offsite Article: Truth Will Out...

Link Here11th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Collapse of Great Firewall of China is inevitable, Google Chairman predicts

See article from

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