|It’s a real pity that Malaysians were denied the opportunity to watch a movie by Amir and to read a book by Aru. Both Arumugam and Amir are towering Malaysians ( borrowing the word from AAB) . Both of them were well- known for their love for the Malaysian people and their bold, critical and fresh views on issues important to culture, education and history in this country.It’s Amir and Aru’s rights to present their views on such so-called sensitive issues. Banning such movies and books only goes to show that the authority has no guts to allow Malaysians to know the naked truth of these important historical events.
We urge the authority to lift the ban immediately.
Malaysiakini has the stories…
Another ‘communist’ movie banned
|Local film-maker Amir Muhammad’s latest offering Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (known abroad as ‘Village People Radio Show’) has been banned for allegedly glorifying the struggle of the “communist united front”.Disclosing this on his blog today, Amir said the movie was sent to the Malaysian Censorship Board for approval on Jan 18 and the decision to ban it was made on Feb 12.The board cited seven reasons for this:
According to Amir, whose previous movie Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) was also banned, has until March 10 to appeal.
Lift the ban
In an immediate reaction, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemned the ban and called for it to be lifted.
“The reasons given by the censorship board blatantly transgress Article 10 of the Federal Constitution’s guarantee of free speech. The right to criticise government policy and behaviour is a vital aspect of any democracy,” said its executive director Sonia Randhawa in a statement.
“Resorting to banning the movie, rather than engaging in the concerns raised there by the former communists, indicates insecurity and makes it increasingly difficult for Malaysians to assess and relate to this period of history,” she added.
She said lifting the ban on Apa Khabar Orang Kampung and its prequel Lelaki Komunis Terakhir would indicate that the government’s commitment to an open and transparent society is more than just rhetoric.
“CIJ is also concerned that banning locally made films encourages a culture of self-censorship among local film-makers, which is opposed to Malaysia’s policy of establishing itself as a ‘global centre and hub for communications and multimedia information and content services.’
“We urge the Internal Security Ministry to encourage local film production, regardless of politics, and to repeal the Film Censorship Act,” she added.
Apart from banning films, the government has recently banned 56 books deemed objectionable by the authorities.
|Banned book’s author to file for judicial review|
|The author of March 8 – which details the Kampung Medan clashes of 2001 – will file for a judicial review against the government’s decision to ban the book.K Arumugam is expected to file the suit with the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow to seek damages for the proscription.Apart from media reports and personal research, March 8 also contains eye-witness accounts on the clashes that left six people dead and over 90 injured. The victims were predominantly Indians.
Contacted today, Arumugam’s lawyer Edmund Bon said it appears that the ban is aimed at ending public discussions and questions about the incident.
Arumugam’s book suggested that the incident was not a ‘racial’ or ‘internal’ conflict between residents of Kampung Medan as claimed by the authorities.
Bon argued that the ban infringes on the fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“They’ve breached my client’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression as well as the public’s right to information.
“Arumugam was not even informed of the ban but found out after reading about it in news reports. Plus, he was never given the opportunity to be heard before the ban was imposed,” he said.
Bon conceded that the attempt at a judicial review would be “challenging” given the wide discretionary powers held by the internal security minister under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
However, he said the attempt must be made for the sake of Malaysians’ right to record and know about their own history.
“As my client himself has said, this is a denial of history,” he noted.
March 8 was among 18 books banned by the Internal Security Ministry. The other books include Kamasutra: Apakah Kebaikannya (Kamasutra: What are its benefits) by Drs Munir Rahmat, Pengakuan Mangsa Rogol (A rape victim’s confession) by Ayu Mayangsari, Negara Tuhan (God’s country) by Tigga, The Origin of Species by F Susilohardo Basuki Hernowo, Islam and the West: A New Political and Religious Order Post September 11 by Robert Van de Weyer, and numerous others.