Melon Farmers Original Version

Asia Pacific Censorship News

2010: July-Sept

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29th September   

Not Funny...

Malaysian political cartoonist arrested on sedition charges
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest of Malaysian cartoonist Zulkifli Awar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, a contributor to the popular news site Malaysiakini and author of a new collection of political cartoons.

Police raided Zunar's Kuala Lumpur office and arrested him under the Sedition Act, just before the scheduled release of his new book, Cartoon-O-Phobia . He was released on bail on Saturday, according to local news reports.

Sedition charges in Malaysia are often used to suppress press criticism and carry possible three-year jail terms for first-time offenders, according to CPJ research.

Zunar's drawings often tackle sensitive issues, including the ongoing sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the perceived influence of Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife over his decision-making.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the arrest was related to cartoons that touched on the legal system and religion, the state news agency Bernama reported.

We call on Malaysian authorities to stop harassing political cartoonist Zunar and to drop all charges against him, said Shawn W. Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative: The arrest of a cartoonist is inconsistent with Prime Minister Najib's vow on taking office that he would uphold, not suppress, press freedom.

Update: Freed but books still banned

13th October 2011.See  article from

Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better-known among comic fans as Zunar is one of the few satirists willing to take open shots against the country's ruling establishment, and in September 2010, police arrested him on a sedition charge just hours before the launch party for a new book of cartoons poking fun at the aristocratic, British-educated Prime Minister Najib Razak, among other topics.

Government officials said Zulkiflee's cartoons violated Malaysia's Printing Presses and Publications Act, which regulates newspapers, because he didn't have a license to publish. He was later released without charge, but not without sneaking out a cartoon or two from behind bars.

His books, though, remain banned.

Update: Can I have my books back?

27th January 2012. See  article from

Political cartoonist Zunar (Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque) has appeared at the Kuala Lumpur High Court for the first hearing of a civil suit in which he challenges the Malaysian government and police for his arrest and detention on 24 September 2010.

Zunar is seeking the return of confiscated property as well as aggravated losses and damages incurred in the raid of his office, during which police seized copies of his latest work, Cartoon-O-Phobia, and arrested him for sedition. The raid occurred just hours before the book's launch.

Update: Books ordered returned

10th August 2012. From

A Malaysia court has ruled that the arrest and detention of popular and award-winning cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaqur, or Zunar, 2 years ago by police was lawful.

The court, led by Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera argued that the government's seizure of 66 of his books and paintings was illegal. He ordered the books and the painting to be returned to the cartoonist.

In his ruling, Vazeer said:

The authorities had failed to provide evidence to substantiate the seizure of the books, adding that the law did not allow for the materials to be kept for a long time.

The continued confiscation of the books will affect the plaintiff's right to his livelihood.


26th September   

Updated: Old Rules...

Singapore censorship review committee proposes less restrictions on R21 films
Link Here
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority

R21 films may soon make their way to local cinemas as well as DVDs and pay TV, if recommendations by the Censorship Review Committee (CRC) are accepted by the Government.

The CRC report called for relaxation in content and regulation standards, given that technological changes are undermining the old ways of restricting content. With more content streaming through the Internet, the existing media regulations will become less effective. Responsibility must shift to individuals and parents, who must be empowered to make choices for themselves and for their children.

The panel, a state-appointed group of 17 people, was convened to review current censorship regulations across media such as films, videos and publications, as well as the arts. It is chaired by Goh Yew Lin, chairman of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory.

In a bold suggestion that may raise eyebrows, the panel wants R21 content to be made available on more platforms - at home and in local cinemas, the panel has recommended that videos may be sold in video stores, provided the industry can enforce the restriction of sale to minors.

It also suggests that R21 content be available on subscription TV and video-on-demand with a default parental lock.

Making a case for easing of R21 content, the committee's report said: Where consumers have the ability to exercise controlled choice, as is the case with video-on-demand, R21 content should be permitted. However, its introduction should be carefully calibrated, and only allowed if there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent access by minors .

The commitee also recommended that a new PG13 rating be introduced to 'provide a stronger signal to parents on the nature of the content and to facilitate appropriate rating of films with some mature content.

The CRC has submitted its report to Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, which is expected to respond in a month's time.

Update: Fitting in Dark Knight

26th September 2010. From , thanks to Sean

Singapore's Censorship Review Committee is recommending that the country become slightly less buttoned up and that content regulation become more pragmatic.

The committee, which spent nearly a year deliberating, recommends the introduction of a new PG-13 film classification.

Explaining the idea of a PG-13 category Vijay Chandra, chairman of the Films Consultative Panel, said that The Dark Knight was rated PG, meaning that even primary school age children could watch it, although its violence may have upset parents. However, he said that an NC-16 rating would have been unwarranted.

As a consequence of the result of a PG-13 rating being introduced, Chandra said that the average PG film would then become milder and more innocuous.

In total the committee made some 80 recommendations – including dropping the word censorship from the title of future review committees – to the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. The ministry is expected to respond within a month.


24th September   

Standards of Easy Offence...

New Zealand TV censor has a whinge at Home and Away
Link Here

A raunchy and sexually charged scene on prime-time soap opera Home and Away breached broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has ruled.

The BSA said the Home and Away episode, which aired on TV3 at 5:30pm on March 24 with a General (G) classification, breached standards relating to responsible programming, children's interests, and good taste and decency.

During the episode, two adult characters, Martha and Liam, began kissing and Liam removed Martha's bathrobe, leaving her in a bra and pyjama pants. Liam then lay back on a table while Martha straddled him as they continued to kiss until another character walked in.

TV3's broadcaster TVWorks said that the programme had screened in a timeslot that was not considered to be predominately children's viewing time on the channel and that child viewers would not be alarmed or distressed by such scenes.

The BSA disagreed, saying the programme was raunchy and sexually charged and went well beyond the level of sexual activity that should be included in a G-rated programme.

TV3 legal counsel Clare Bradley gave the following response today:

TV3 is considering whether it will appeal the decision concerning content in Home and Away but there is no plan to change the time at which it screens

We don't agree that the material in this scene would alarm or distress children under the age of 14yrs who might view the programme. They would see two people in a friendly, affectionate embrace kissing and cuddling and then jumping apart in embarrassment when they were interrupted by another member of the cast. Importantly there is no violence or threatening behaviour in the scene which might have the potential to be alarming or distressing for children. There was categorically no explicit sexual activity nor was there any nudity.


22nd September   

Nutter Hang-Ups...

New Zealand TV censor has a whinge at TV drama, Hung
Link Here

A scene implicitly depicting oral sex and genital nudity in an episode of Hung shown on TV One breached the good taste and decency standard, a majority of the Broadcasting Standards Authority has found.

Hung is a comedy-drama series about a divorced and financially struggling father, Ray Drecker, who starts working as a male prostitute.

In the episode broadcast on TV One at 9.50pm on Monday 22 March, Ray went on a date with a woman called Lenore.

At approximately 10.10pm Ray was shown lifting up Lenore's skirt and removing her underwear. One brief shot of Lenore's genital area was shown in the scene, which was shot at a short distance in front of her.

Lenore then sat down on a couch and placed her legs over Ray's shoulders. Ray crouched with his head between Lenore's legs and performed oral sex. Lenore's legs and torso were visible as Lenore writhed and moaned on the couch. The top half of Lenore's body was fully clothed and her genital area was obscured by Ray's head.

A formal complaint was made to Television New Zealand that the scene amounted to soft porn .

In response TVNZ said that the programme had screened at 9.50pm, which was over an hour after the 8.30pm Adults Only (AO) watershed, was classified AO, and was preceded by a written and verbal warning.

The scene complained about had been relatively brief, not detailed, obviously acted and important in the context of the series, TVNZ said.

In its decision a majority of the BSA found that that although the context went some way to alerting viewers to the challenging nature of the programme, the content complained about went well beyond the level of sexual material that viewers would expect to see on free-to-air television.

In the majority's view, the scene complained about was prolonged, explicit and gratuitous, leaving nothing to the imagination and designed solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience, the decision said.

In these circumstances factors such as the programme's AO classification and the use of a written and verbal warning were not sufficient to prevent the broadcast breaching standards of good taste and decency, the decision said.

The BSA did not make any orders, saying that publication of the decision would be sufficient to clarify its expectations surrounding sexual content of this nature.


17th September   

Update: Cyber Wellness Programme...

Singapore recommends mandatory internet filters for parents
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Singapore...Singapore consults in censorship law review

The Censorship Review Committee has issued its report after nearly a year of deliberations.

Among its recommendations are mandatory Internet filters to give parents more control and responsibility over what their children can access online. Filtering services are currently available through Internet Service Providers SingTel and StarHub but there has been minimal marketing and take-up of these services , said the report.

The committee said these filters should be easy to understand, requiring parents only to answer a yes or no .

The filters would replace the current symbolic ban on 100 websites, but the government should retain the power to ban websites that are seen as a threat to national security, for example, terrorism and extreme racial or religious hate sites.

These efforts should be complemented by a cyber wellness programme that is incorporated into the national educational curriculum.


15th September   

Updated: Regional Criticism Banned...

Thailand pressures FCCT to cancel press conference
Link Here

The Thai government acted inappropriately in pressuring the Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) to cancel a press conference that would have criticized Vietnam, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said.

The Bangkok-based FCCT had intended to host a press conference by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR). The two independent rights groups had planned to launch a new report called From Rhetoric to Reality: Human Rights in Vietnam, under its Chairmanship of ASEAN 2010.

The FCCT said in a statement that the ministry first contacted it by telephone on September 9 to request that the club cancel the press conference because it might contain information detrimental to a neighboring country. The ministry also requested that the FCCT inform the event's two scheduled speakers, VCHR's Vo Van Ai and Penelope Faulkner, that the ministry would deny them visas on arrival upon landing in Thailand. The event was then formally cancelled by the two groups.

The FCCT provides an important space for journalists to meet and exchange ideas with newsmakers and that space should remain open and free of restrictions, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Senior Southeast Asia Representative. Regrettably, the pressure put on the FCCT is consistent with a wider crackdown on the free press and Internet under way in Thailand.

Thani Thongphakdi, head of the Thai ministry's Department of Information, wrote in a September 10 e-mail to the FCCT that the government attaches great importance to the principles of freedom of expression and diversity of views ...BUT... that it also has a long-standing position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries.

There are rising concerns among Bangkok-based journalists that the Thai government will become less tolerant of such programs to guard against regional criticism of its own anti-democratic tendencies.

Update: Vietnam thanks Thailand for gagging human rights criticism

15th September 2010. Based on article from

The Vietnamese government has thanked Thailand for preventing two activists from travelling to Bangkok to present a report criticising human rights in Vietnam.

Vietnam welcomes Thailand's refusal to allow Thai territory to be used for activities opposing Vietnam, government spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said.

She said the action was appropriate to the friendly and cooperative relations between Vietnam and Thailand, and to the charter of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).


10th September   

Hammer Cracks Game Nuts...

South Korea seeks to rate even small or non-commercial games
Link Here

Korea's Game Rating Board (GRB) is making life difficult for independent Korean online game makers, strictly enforcing a law that virtually all games published in the country must be rated.

Posting to Reddit, a Korean game fan indicated that GRB recently swooped down upon a website for users of RPG Maker, a free tool that can be used to create role-playing games. While the games created and shared on the site were apparently not for sale, the GRB demanded that all the games shared on the site must be rated. The forum's moderators were said to have deleted all the games on their website in light of paying the fees.

The fees for gaining a rating can also be excessive, as the Korean gamer laid out pricing structures for indie-made games to get rated. A basic fee is charged per MB, with multipliers applied for network-related games, as well as for different game types and for localization of the game. The example used showed that a developer of a free Korean RPG, with a size of 105MB, would have to pay approximately $71 in order to receive a rating necessary for release of the game.

Similarly, Valve Software's Steam is now in the firing line of the GRB, as Team Liquid writes that Steam could be banned in Korea, due to the fact that neither the service nor games offered through it have been rated.


4th September   

Update: Censorship Power...

Malaysian establishes internet censorship task force
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia has formed a task force to censor the Internet of blog postings deemed harmful to national unity.

Home ministry deputy secretary general for security Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi said the unit would involve the police, Internet regulators, the information ministry and the attorney general's chambers: It is a mechanism that will coordinate these various agencies to help monitor what is being said in cyberspace and to take action against those that are trying to stoke racial tensions and disunity .

Abdul Rahim said the group would also monitor alternative and mainstream media for similar content: There is a disturbing trend now appearing on the Internet where some people are inciting racial unrest and causing confusion and this will damage the peace we have in the country

Abdul Rahim cited the recent case of a Facebook page that insulted Muslim Malays. Police are also investigating ethnic Chinese rapper Wee Meng Chee for sedition, after he posted a three-minute rap on YouTube criticising a Malay headmistress accused of making racial slurs against minority students.

In another case, Malaysian journalist Irwan Abdul Rahman was charged this week over a satirical blog which made fun of the state power firm Tenaga, and faces a year's jail if convicted.

State media said that Irwan Abdul Rahman, a sub-editor with a Malay-language daily, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to a charge of posting a fictitious comment.

It said he was accused of intent to hurt over the posting, entitled TNB to sue WWF over Earth Hour which jokingly said Tenaga would take action over the World Wildlife Fund's annual energy-saving initiative.

Update: Discharged

24th March 2011. See  article from

It took almost a year, but the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court has dismissed the charges against Irwan Abdul Rahman, noting that there were no grounds for prosecution.

As Rahman points out in his post on the case, having the case discharged does not amount to an acquittal. Almost one year for Rahman to get out from under the pressure of a court case. Is that just Malaysian justice slowly grinding forward? Possibly.

But it's also one year of intimidation for one blogger who dared to poke fun at a powerful government-run institution. Lingering in the back of every Malaysian journalist's mind, the case was and remains chilling.


4th September   

Update: Self Discipline Commissioners...

A new euphemism for Twitter censors
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Chinese authorities have just announced that microblogging websites – sites offering Twitter-style services – will be told to appoint self-discipline commissioners to be responsible for censorship.

In a parallel development, new rules took effect on 1 September. Now anyone wanting to buy a mobile phone that uses prepaid SIM cards will have to produce identity papers while anyone already owning such a phone will have three years to register their ownership.

China's censors are giving themselves an additional layer of control, Reporters Without Borders said. The Great Firewall of China is getting human reinforcements to boost its effectiveness. But if they are held to strict performance criteria, it seems these commissioners are being assigned an impossible mission, given the volume of information circulating online for which they will be responsible.

The press freedom organisation added: Nonetheless, their very existence will be dangerous because of their nuisance value and because they could encourage microbloggers to censor themselves. Meanwhile, under the pretext of combating spam, a new blow has been dealt to the personal data of China's mobile phone users.

The microblogging platforms will themselves have to hire the commissioners whose job it will be to monitor and censor anything that could threaten China's security and social stability. They are supposed to target content linked to illegal activities, pornography and violence, as well as baseless rumours and politically sensitive issues. Although hired by the site, each commissioner will be responsible for its content and will be operationally independent.


4th September   

Going Soft...

BBC's HARDtalk cancels interview with embattled Malaysian blogger
Link Here

The BBC has denied dropping controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin from its Hardtalk segment due to political pressure.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin (popularly known as RPK) was originally scheduled for a Sept 1 interview with Hardtalk .

Malaysia Today had previously alleged that the BBC had cancelled RPK's interview because it would upset the Malaysian government and expose the station to legal action.

The suggestion that the item was dropped due to political pressure is untrue, said Peter Connors, BBC global news senior press officer in an e-mail statement. Citing editorial reasons , Connors told FMT that it was normal for certain news or current affairs stories not to be aired on the BBC's channels.

It became clear in our research that any comprehensive interview with RPK would prominently feature issues that are currently the subject of a current court case in Malaysia, Connors said.

He also added that a meeting with the controversial blogger would raise issues of defamation. Connors did not specify which court case he was referring to.


2nd September   

Up Against the Facebook Wall...

Philippines president takes a hammering on Facebook
Link Here

A hostage drama in the Philippines on August 23, 2010 tested the patience and tolerance of the Philippine government, particularly newly installed President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III.

The hostage crisis and the alleged mishandling of the entire situation was seen by almost everyone which illicited various reactions. The question is, where will they air their grievances and disappointments? Where else but to use the world's most popular social networking site to date - Facebook.

President Aquino created his Facebook page to promote transparency, but now angry netizens and President Aquino detractors are flooding the page with negative comments, strong language and insults.

And because of the barrage of negative posts, President Benigno Aquino or whoever is in-charge of this page censored his Facebook page after users ignored an appeal to stop bashing the Philippine government.

His Facebook account is followed by 1.9 million readers.


1st September   

Update: BlackBerry BlackOut...

Indonesia joins the anti-BlackBerry bandwagon
Link Here
Full story: BlackBerry Mobile Phones...Winding up countries who can't snoop on users

The war in Indonesia over the available of pornography on mobile devices has resulted in Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring threatening to kick BlackBerry out of the country. He wants parent company Research in Motion (RiM) to agree to block all porn from the devices.

The minister has said that he had communicated to RiM his wishes, but has yet to receive a reply.

If they are still not responding to our request, we have to close it down, Tifatul said, adding, RIM may violates our law if it remains providing porn content in its service [in Indonesia].

Earlier this month, Titaful urged RiM to set up servers in the country. The servers were needed, he claimed, in order to perform wiretaps in crime cases, bringing in non-tax revenue for the country and reducing service charges for customers. They would also make it much easier for the government to block porn locally.


28th August   

Updated: Revived Mean Mindedness...

Indonesian Playboy editor still under duress
Link Here

The former editor of Indonesian Playboy could face two years in jail after Indonesian prosecutors said they would enforce a 2009 Supreme Court ruling.

Erwin Arnada was first tried for public indecency in 2007 but was cleared of all charges.

The acquittal was seen as a victory for freedom of the press in Indonesia.

But conservative Islamic groups lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, which found him guilty of public indecency.

This week, leaders of the Islamic Defenders Front, a hardline Muslim group in Indonesia, announced they had obtained a copy of the Supreme Court's ruling and urged the district attorney's office to enforce it.

A lawyer with the group, told the BBC it was outrageous it had taken Indonesian prosecutors this long to act on a Supreme Court order. He added that members of the Islamic Defenders Front would visit the district attorney general's office on Friday to find out why there had been such a prolonged delay in putting Arnada behind bars.

Meanwhile, Indonesian prosecutors told the BBC they only received the Supreme Court ruling earlier this week. The prosecutor's office issued a summons for Arnada on Wednesday. If he does not appear then two more summons will be issued for him. If he fails to comply with those summons, prosecutors say he will be arrested by force.

Update: Case Review

9th September 2010. From

The former chief editor of Playboy Indonesia magazine, Erwin Arnada, has asked prosecutors to suspend his prison term in a last ditch effort to annul a court ruling sentencing him to two years in prison for indecency.

Erwin's lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, said his client would file a case review against the Supreme Court ruling.

We are going to file our request as soon as possible, probably after the Idul Fitri holidays, he told journalists at the Press Council's office in Jakarta on Monday.

Todung said the Supreme Court justices made a mistake when examining his client's case. The panel of justices should have used the Press Law when examining cases related to the press, not the Criminal Code. This is an egregious mistake, he said.

A case review may take years and does not necessarily suspend the conviction of Erwin, who refuses to come out of hiding.


28th August   

Update: Softly Softly...

The impact of Thai film classification after the first year
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

The Thai film classification system has now been running for one year.

Thai movie Namtal Daeng , or Brown Sugar , promises that the story will be about sex, and perhaps love.

Brown Sugar , an ensemble of three erotic tales by twenty-something directors, has passed the rating committee with an 18-plus classification _ and without a cut. In the actual film, yes, you'll see women's nipples, the whenever-wherever seduction, and the simulated love-making.

Two months ago, Sukit Narin released his racy, cleavage-obsessed Pu Ying Ha Babb 2 (Sin Sisters 2). Five women recount their sexual experiences and reveal the upper part of their bodies (some using stand-ins). The film was also passed without a cut, but with a 20-plus classification, which stipulates ID check at the entrance. Sin Sisters 2 was later re-edited to make it milder and was released on VCD and DVD, with an 18-plus rating.

The issue at hand is apparent: Are Thai films ready for sex and explicit titillation? Has the much-derided rating system opened up new possibilities for filmmakers to show things _ and organs _ that couldn't be shown on the big multiplex screen under the old censorship law? Breasts, sure. Penises, yes. Masturbation, why not? People bobbing and moaning, quite okay, too.

Beyond flesh, what about sensitive politics, crooked politicians, bad cops, charlatan monks, southern unrest, Islamic issues, or a cinematic prime minister announcing a State of Emergency _ will those be allowed to show on the big screen as well?

By law, breasts go under the 18-plus category and no ID check is required. Penises, 20-plus. Simulated sex is either 18 or 20, depending on the intensity. But when it comes to violence or disturbing visuals, the rule isn't so clear.

Last year, a Thai independent movie showing clips of the Tak Bai incident was banned from showing at a local film festival. Earlier in 2010, action film Suay Samurai was ordered to cut a scene showing gunmen opening fire into a mosque, or facing a ban. A horror, Haunted Universities , was also instructed to delete a shot alluding to soldiers shooting at students during the Oct 14, 1973 demonstration.

For now, it seems that flesh and passion have found a leeway to the big screen. It's possible now to see local breasts in the multiplex _ it's well known that the censorship has been more lenient with non-Thai nipples.

Without the new rating system, I don't think it would have been possible to make a film like Brown Sugar , said Prachya Pinkaew, advisor of the project: With the old censorship system, the investors didn't dare put the money in a film like this since it could face a ban, and directors didn't want to risk doing a movie that would be cut.

The first Thai film to be slapped with a 20-plus grade was an arthouse drama, Jao Nokkrajok , or Mundane History , earned for a scene showing a naked man trying to arouse his own penis in a bathtub.

If sex has received a green light, the next boundary to push is politics. No matter how conservative Thai authority can seem when it comes to flesh-flashing movies, they can be even more reactionary and paranoid when politics is served up in films. Hardly a Thai picture has touched on the hot waters of politics, despite the fact that this is the period in history where politics is most inseparable from Thai life.


24th August   

Update: Cinema only Fit for Kids...

China ends debate about introducing age classification for movies
Link Here
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids

China's film censor, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said that an ongoing debate about a film classification system must end now and that China had no plans to introduce such a system as it was inappropriate.

We did a lot of investigation and research in both the overseas and domestic market, but decided that the movie classification system is not appropriate for the Chinese movie market currently, said Zhao Shi, vice minister of SARFT.

China is developing its own way to maintain the management of the movie market in a legal, scientific and effective way, and this 'own way' would be more suitable for China's domestic conditions and the reform of China's movie business, she said.

Many in the film business had hoped that a film classification system would be introduced as it would diminish  the need for censorship.

As it stands in China, all films have to be cut so as to be suitable for all ages.

The censorship process also takes a long time giving pirates ample time to flood the market with good DVD copies of the movie for impatient filmgoers.


20th August   

Update: 110,000 Websites Blocked...

Thailand becoming one of the least free states in the region
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Criticism over Thailand's efforts to curb political debate online is mounting as the government restricts thousands of websites following deadly protest clashes earlier this year.

Thai authorities say they have blocked at least 40,000 Web pages this year, according to the government's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, which monitors the Internet. Free-speech activists say authorities are blocking at least 110,000 sites, based on government disclosures and spot checks online.

Many of the sites feature criticism of the government or debates about Thailand's revered monarchy, a taboo subject here. As a result, some advocates say Thailand—long seen as a relative haven of free speech in Asia—is becoming one of the least-free states in a region that includes China and Myanmar, when it comes to discourse online

...Read the full article

Update: Wikileaks Blocked

20th August 2010. Based on article from

Thai authorities have used their emergency powers to block domestic access to the WikiLeaks whistleblower website on security grounds, a government official said Wednesday.

The order came from the government unit set up to oversee the response to political unrest that rocked the nation's capital earlier this year, a spokeswoman for the Information and Communication Technology Ministry said.

Access to this website has been temporarily suspended under the 2005 emergency decree, she said.


The Wikileaks block has yet to filter through, and for the moment, Wikileaks continues to be available to some in Thailand.

There is speculation that this action is more about toadying to the US who are pissed off about the Afghan War leaks.

WikiLeaks has launched ThaiLeaks, a web page of downloadable ‘magnet links’ to Thailand news items. The whistleblower announced the launch of the new page today on Twitter. It said even if the new page is blocked citizens will still be able to access information through the links which can be sent in e-mails, instant messages, even printed on paper, in order to keep information flowing.


13th August   

Update: Ramadan a Porn Ban...

Indonesia steps up internet censorship for Ramadan
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring, a member of the conservative Islamic party, called a news conference on the eve of Ramadan at which he renewed a promise to act against porn sites.

Quoting a poem, Sembiring called on Muslims to keep hearts clean in the holy month, and said that he would target websites and media that carried sexual content.

Already 200 Internet service providers in Indonesia have since last month agreed to block sites that displayed sexual activity and nudity, and their efforts are extraordinary, Sembiring said.

It's not an easy task as there are four million local and international porn sites, he said, but added that he was unable to say how many sites had been shut out of Indonesia.

I've promised before there will be efforts to close porn sites... This Ramadan hopefully traffic to porn sites can be reduced by more than 90%, he said.

Update: 800,000 websites blocked

13th August 2010. Based on article from

Telecommunication giant Telkomsel claims to have blocked 800,000 porn sites in response to the government's drive against pornography during Ramadan.

Telkomsel president director Sarwoto Atmosutarno said that the company had filtered the adult sites through its proxy server or gateway, which automatically denies its customers access to the porn sites.

Due to the blacklist internet access mechanism, users of Telkomsel's Internet facility will read in their mobile phone, computer or laptop monitors a warning, which reads: Access is denied due to security policy enforcement , if they try to open a porn site.

Based on article from

But the government's plan to block offensive sites on the Internet has come under fire from several Web sites, including two major news portals, which have suffered from access problems, presumably as a result of the blocking.

News portal's advertisement section and were inaccessible, prompting Internet users and media experts to question the blocking policy. founder and chairman Budiono Darsono expressed his outrage when the portal's subdomain was blocked.

Other Web sites that were blocked included, community forum, and Google Adsense, a service that provides text-based advertising.

Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto apologized for the blockage, saying that it was only the first day the plan was implemented: We apologize to some Web sites that were also blocked today, he said, adding that it should be understood that this is a big plan and it takes time to implement it perfectly.

Gatot said that the ministry would soon open a hotline which site users and owners could call to file reports on blockages. The ministry, he said, would verify the reported sites and take immediate action.


13th August   

Update: Back to Norml...

Pro cannabis magazine continues to publish in New Zealand
Link Here
Full story: Norml News...New Zealand police try to ban pro-cannabis mag

Cannabis law reform magazine Norml News , which both New Zealand Police and Internal Affairs recently tried to ban, has just released its Winter/Spring 2010 issue, including revelations about how and why the magazine nearly got permanently suppressed.

Immediately prior to the Operation Lime raids in April, police went to the Dept of Internal Affairs and discussed the magazine, Editor Chris Fowlie said. Soon after, Internal Affairs requested a ban on Norml News, but that request was refused and we're still here.

Documents uncovered by NORML under the Official Information Act reveal that Internal Affairs officers fronted a covert police initiative to get Norml News banned entirely. The Chief Censor's office didn't go that far, but did decide to classify three previous issues of the magazine as R18 publications. NORML plans to appeal the decision.

The latest issue of Norml News investigates what took place during Operation Lime and concludes that the Government has brought back the War on Drugs, especially their war on NZ's 400,000 cannabis users. Playing to the 'tough on crime' crowd, Judith Collins and Simon Power both seem keen on ramping up the War on Drugs, Fowlie said.


12th August   

Damaging the Dignity of Human Values...

South Korean bans well hyped revenge thriller
Link Here

One of the most hyped films of the year has been effectively banned in South korea.

Kim Ji-Woon's upcoming revenge thriller I Saw The Devil? has been given a rating known as Limited Screening , a highly restrictive rating that only allows the film to be screened in special theaters that only show adult films. Currently no such theaters exist, meaning the film has effectively been banned.

Originally submitted for ratings review a month ago, the film has undergone re-editing since first being hit by the rating but to no avail. The rating stood a second submission and distributors have now called off scheduled press screenings while they try to address the ratings board concerns and get a rating on the film that will allow them to actually release it.

The official concern? Scenes that severely damage the dignity of human values.

Kyung-chul is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state.

Her fiance Dae-hoon, a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer.

The film premieres as part of the Toronto International Film Festival in September.


8th August   

Update: Indonesia Wounded by Balibo...

Indonesian court confirms the ban on the film Balibo
Link Here
Full story: Balibo...Indonesia bans movie about jounalist deaths

Jakarta State Administrative Court upheld the film censor's ban on the Australian feature film Balibo , labelling the film sensitive .

A panel of judges ruled that the Film Censorship Board (LSF) had fulfilled the required administrative procedures to ban the controversial film.

The court agreed with the LSF's argument that the film could reopen old wounds .

Balibo recounts the story of five Australian-based journalists who were killed during the invasion of the town of Balibo in Timor Leste in 1975.

The LSF banned the film on the grounds that it depicted violence and that the film had only used Australian and Timor Leste sources, a matter that concerned the Indonesian government. The military has been particularly sensitive on the topic.


6th August   

Update: State of the Art Repression...

China sets up ID card swipe system for web access at internet cafes
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Chinese authorities in Tibet have ordered Internet cafes across the region to finish installing state-of-the-art surveillance systems by the end of the month, industry sources and local media said.

All the Internet cafes must now install it, said Chen Jianying, head of the customer service department of the industry group Internet Cafes Online: This is a nationwide policy which is part of the implementation of the real-name registration system .

The proprietor of an Internet cafe in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, which is still under tight security following widespread Tibetan unrest beginning in March 2008, confirmed the scheme is already in full swing. He said the new system will mean tighter online controls: If there is something that is being controlled, there's no way anyone will get to see it. It's definitely a tighter form of control .

Under the nationwide scheme, which took effect Aug. 1, second-generation identity cards belonging to the person using the Internet must be swiped to allow online access. Viewed content can then be traced back to that identity, using the the surveillance system.


2nd August   

Crime of Police Deception Rife in Gisborne...

New Zealand town police withhold crime news
Link Here

Police in the New Zealand city of Gisborne have decided to stop telling the local newspaper about incidents of crime. It is holding back the data so that people feel safer .

Instead of listing every incident the police force will streamline information to provide an overview of criminal activity.

Our daily feed of information to the media does not provide the right recipe for the community in terms of important information they need to know, said police commander Sam Aberahama.

Gisborne Herald editor Jeremy Muir called the unilateral restriction on crime news as straight out of the communist manual .


2nd August   

Negative Influences...

Vietnam gets repressive about online games
Link Here

The government of Vietnam has now implemented restrictions on online games.

Minister of Information and Communications  Le Doan Hop called for the immediate implementation of a trio of stop-gap measures until new laws are drafted and propagated:

  • all new licenses for online games will be suspended
  • all public media ads for online games are banned
  • Internet cafes will have to shut down game services between 11pm and 6am every day.
  • Gamers will also be limited to three hours of playtime for any title that interacts with a server, though taking part in educational or cultural games will be permitted for four or five hours per day.
  • game operators to detail the level of violence in titles they offered via a report which must include video clips that illustrate the violent nature of particular games.
  • Operators also must break down games into acceptable age groups, selecting from six and under, 6-11, 12 to 15, 15 to 18 and 18+.

The measures were taken, according to Vietnam News, following a public outcry about their supposed negative influences on the youth.


30th July   

Updated: Obscene Optimism...

Indonesian government promises to block all porn within the next 2 months
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

The Indonesian government has pledged to have all porn websites blocked in the country within the next two months as it works to implement the country's strict anti-pornography laws.

We should not wait for too long to close down these sites because otherwise more will people copy and disseminate this material, said Tifatul Sembiring, the Minister for Communication and Information Technology.

Tifatul noted that pornography was already prohibited by law, pointing to the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law, which was upheld recently by the country's Constitutional Court. That law declares, in part, that the state should protect its citizens from the dangers of pornography.

So if God is willing, we will fulfill our obligations, otherwise the continued presence of this material will violate our law, he said.

Tifatul explained that the government's move comes in response to a request from Islamic groups and the Indonesian Commission to Protect Children.

He says the government will shut down objectionable domestic sites and ask the country's 180 internet service providers to block international porn sites. A spokesman for the ministry told Canada's Globe and Mail that the government has not decided yet whether they will impose sanctions on ISPs that do not comply.

Update: Easier said then done

30th July 2010. From

The Communications and Information Technology Ministry says it can block access to up to 3,000 pornographic Web sites a day, as part of Minister Tifatul Sembiring's plan for smut-free Internet.

Ashwin Sasongko, the ministry's director general for telematics applications, said that his office had already installed filtering software called the Massive Trust Positive in all Internet-enabled computers supplied to villages under the government-sponsored Desa Pintar (Smart Village) program.

He acknowledged, however, that with an estimated four million new pornography pages added to the Internet each day, it would be impossible to completely block access to such sites for Indonesian Web users, and called on the public to participate by reporting offending sites.

But Internet service providers say they need the government to formalize its policy before they can take steps toward blocking the content.

Valens Riyadi, from the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII), told the Jakarta Globe that a regulation on the issue was necessary, to ensure that what we do [in terms of filtering sites] doesn't violate public's right to access information.

Ashwin, however, argued that ISPs were better-placed to identify offending sites, saying it should not be too difficult to filter pornographic content on the Internet and that the ministry would provide them with the list if officially requested.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Telecommunications Users Group said it supported the ministry's antipornography campaign, but questioned how effective it would be, given that many Indonesians access the Internet through their cellphones.

It's technically quite difficult to filter sites for a BlackBerry user, so we wonder if the government plans to rope [manufacturer] Research in Motion into doing the filtering, said Muhammad Jumadi, the group's secretary general.

Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told the Globe that the controversial bill on monitoring Internet content was currently being revised, after being widely panned by the public in February. The changes include a new title, Guidelines for Public Complaints on Unlawful Internet Content, signifying its change of focus to get increased public participation in the plan.

Reports from the public should be justifiable and will be reviewed by a monitoring team, whose proposed makeup we've also changed to include 60 percent public appointees and 40 percent government representatives, Gatot said, adding that the team's chairperson would be selected through a vote.


21st July   

Updated: Sorry is the Hardest Word...

Thailand banned from saying sorry in TV commercial
Link Here

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has suggested the censorship board reconsider its ban on the TV commercial Thailand, We Apologise.

Abhisit said he has watched the advertisement on the internet and he thinks its producers only had good intentions in getting their message across to the Thai people.

The prime minister said the producers wanted to instil a sense of responsibility in all Thais and encourage them to take action to correct past mistakes.

The prime minister said he has no idea why the commercial has fallen foul of the censors. He said the censors should step forward to offer an explanation of why they have banned the advertisement.

The censorship board is made up of representatives from all free TV channels. No government agencies are involved in censorship of TV commercials.

The commercial was produced by a group calling itself Positive Network. It is made up of members of the advertising and public relations industries along with social networks.

The advert tells the story of the red shirt protests by using pictures and script to depict what happened to the country and questions society. The music Auld Lang Syne was used in the background.

Here is a translation of the script: Did we do anything wrong? Did we handle anything too harshly? Did we listen to only one side of the story? Did we perform our duties? Did we really think of people? Were we corrupt? Did we take too much? Did the media make people better informed? Did our society deteriorate? Did we love money more than the rightness? And did we only wait for help? If there was anyone to blame, it would be all of us. Apologise? Thailand. And if there was anyone who can fix the problems, it would be all Thais. Keep the loss in mind and turn it into our force.

The censors said the commercial has been banned because it could create conflict and there is a risk of lawsuits being filed by parties affected by the riots. The board has told the producer of the advertisement to correct it and resubmit it for approval.

Bhanu Inkawat, previously a well-known advertiser and founder of the Positive Network, said the producer will make changes to the commercial so it can gain approval to go on air.

Update: Not banned, just a lot of cuts

21st July 2010. Based on article from

The Board of Censors has defended its decision to ban the Kor Thort ... Prathet Thai (Apologise ... Thailand) television commercial, claiming it might make social rifts even deeper.

The censors hadn't in fact banned the commercial ...BUT... To allow the commercial on air, the panel has ordered that six scenes of the 150-second commercial, involving images deemed legally and morally improper such as the burning of buildings, soldiers pointing guns, nudity, monks being arrested and violent protests, be taken out.


19th July   

A Dangerous Topic...

British author arrested in Singapore over book on the death penalty there
Link Here

A British author promoting his book on the death penalty in Singapore has been arrested there for alleged criminal defamation.

Alan Shadrake's arrest came two days after the government's Media Development Authority lodged a police report. The Foreign Office said it was seeking further information from Singaporean authorities.

The 75-year-old has also been served with an application by the attorney general for an order of committal for contempt of court , police said.

In an email to Reuters, Shadrake called himself a British freelance journalist and author who had planned to launch his latest book Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock in the city-state.

The Straits Times newspaper reported that the 219-page book was filled with accounts of high-profile cases in Singapore involving the use of the death penalty. It also included interviews with the city-state's former executioner.


17th July   

Update: Loose Chat...

Some restrictions on chat rooms and internet forums lifted in China
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China has scrapped a system that required websites to apply for a special licence before launching forums and chat rooms.

Analysts however cautioned that the loosening of controls, announced on the State Council's website late last week, might be brief and could soon be replaced with more stringent regulations.

For the past 10 years, applicants wishing to provide web messaging services had to submit their business licence, Internet Content Provider licence and other documents for official examination before a fresh permit was issued. They also had to agree to use filtering software and hire staff to monitor the services around the clock.

Green Dam Damned

Based on article from

One of two companies linked to a nationwide Internet pornography-filtering project refuted reports that the controversial software has been halted.

The Green Dam - Youth Escort Internet content-filtering software, which aroused opposition due to privacy and security concerns at home and abroad last year when it was launched, is facing funding difficulties, the Beijing Times reported.

Authorities have stopped funding the distribution and maintenance of the software, a move that could halt the project, the paper reported citing a general manager of one of the two companies concerned.

But the same person rejected the report, saying the company just moved the office to a new location because of financial problems.


16th July   

Dr Lim Hock Siew...

Singapore censor bans film about political prisoner
Link Here

Singapore censors have banned the film Dr Lim Hock Siew by filmmaker Martyn See Tong Ming, with effect from July 14 under the Films Act, claiming it is against public interest .

A statement from the Information, Communications and the Arts Ministry said the film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Dr Lim's arrests and detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1963.

It added that the government will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore's interests in the past, to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities.

Under the Films Act, possession and distribution of a prohibited film is an offence. An offender is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

Banned film goes viral

See article from by Martyn See

Yesterday, I was ordered by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to to take down all digital copies of the film that you have uploaded onto youtube and your blogsite .

Therefore, as of now, the banned video Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore , or Dr Lim Hock Siew as stated in my submission to the censors, has been deleted from youtube, and you will not be able to view it here.

Yesterday, at the time of the first press release announcing the ban, the viewership registered at 44,165. At 2359 hours 12 July 2010, it had increased to 49,903

I have received notices that the film has been downloaded by anonymous netizens who have already or are in the process of uploading it to various video sites. Although I remind all that it is criminal offence (to the tune of a maximum $10,000 fine or two years imprisonment) to possess or distribute the film, I have no wish, nor the means, to hinder the viral spread of the video.

As such, I hereby declare that the film is no longer in my possession, and its ownership will from now on be given to all citizens of the Republic of Singapore.


12th July   

Update: Unwholesome and Inconvenient...

Japanese manga featuring non-existent juvenile sex to be banned from convenience stores
Link Here
Full story: Manga in Tokyo...Tokyo considers age restrictions on comic books

While Japan's mainstream manga industry continues to enthrall adult and children alike with innocent tales of spy adventures, sportsmen and even ambitious salarymen, authors and publishers are concerned at Tokyo authorities' latest attempt to curb explicit content in adult manga –- heavily restricting the sale of comics that show what are described in the plan as nonexistent juveniles in sexual acts.

Though deadly serious, the plans took on a farcical edge last month. The move to tighten rules on books with depictions of sexual acts was, at least temporarily, rejected in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June.

What scuppered instead was the frank admission by controversial Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for not mincing his words on sensitive matters, that he hadn't thoroughly read his own proposal. That led to the matter being deferred pending further consultation. According to a DPJ representative, further discussions are expected to continue in the next session of the assembly starting September.

Outside the assembly, however, reaction to the proposal is anything but fuzzy, polarized between segments of the manga industry and children's rights groups.

The main concern that opponents to the plan raise is the vague definition of the term nonexistent juvenile . In Governor Ishihara's proposal, books that show characters apparently under-age –- as defined by the characters' clothing, belongings etc. — involved in sexual acts can be designated as an unwholesome book and as such subject to heavy sales restrictions.

Once a manga is labeled as an unwholesome book , it can no longer be carried in Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores. And non-bookstore purchases account about 60% of total sales of comic magazines, says Tamio Kawamata, an official at the JBPA.

A joint statement released by 1,421 manga authors and 10 major publishing companies -– including heavyweights Kodansha Ltd. and Shogakukan Inc. — argues that the vague nonexistent juvenile makes it possible for authorities to restrict the publication of books at their discretion, and has a damping effect on the industry. They argue that it will restrict the freedom of speech, protected under Japan's constitution, which allowed manga to develop greatly in Japan and led it to be highly valued around the world today .


12th July   

Not Keen...

Malaysia's censorship minister whinges about nudity in the media
Link Here

Dr Rais Yatim, Malaysia's minister for Information, communications and culture, says actors will not be allowed to violate the tenets of Islam and appear naked in films.

Something that is prohibited in Islam and is still done is a violation. So, we are not keen to discuss this matter, The Star Online quoted Rais as saying at a recent press conference.

The minister said stripping naked in films was not the culture in Malaysia, but Hollywood and Bollywood films probably influenced some producers.

We are not for naked scenes in films. It should not be highlighted because it is unsuitable with our way of life, the minister said.

Asked if Dalam Botol, a film starring actor Arja Lee, should be banned because of its portrayal of nudity, Rais said it was for the censor board to decide.


10th July   

Update: Searching for a Licence...

Google opts in for uncensored searched but users are still opted out
Link Here
Full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

The Chinese government has renewed Google's licence to operate in China, the internet giant has said, ending a long-running stand-off between the two.

There had been speculation China would revoke the licence after Google began redirecting Chinese users to its unfiltered search site in Hong Kong. Instead, Chinese users would be sent to a landing page , which would send them to the Hong Kong site.

But the Chinese government has made sure that its citizens cannot receive unfiltered search results because searches have to pass back from Hong Kong through the firewall where sensitive material can be removed.

We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP (internet content provider) licence and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China, Google's lawyer David Drummond said in an e-mailed statement.


10th July   

Update: Caught in the Crossfire...Not...

Court case in Indonesia examines the ban on the film Balibo
Link Here
Full story: Balibo...Indonesia bans movie about jounalist deaths

The wife of an Australian reporter allegedly killed by Indonesian forces in East Timor in 1975 said she trusted the Indonesian people to make up their own minds about what happened.

Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Greg Shackleton, is in Jakarta to testify before a court that is hearing a petition against the government's banning of the movie Balibo last year.

Asked what she thought of Indonesia's claims that her husband and four other Australia-based reporters were accidentally killed in crossfire rather than executed in cold blood, she said: That's been rubbish for 35 years . They were just doing their job like you are.

Balibo , starring Anthony LaPaglia, tells the story of the five journalists killed when Indonesian troops overran the East Timorese town of Balibo in October, 1975, and a sixth who died later in the full-scale assault on Dili. Jakarta has always maintained that the so-called Balibo Five died in crossfire as Indonesian troops fought East Timorese Fretilin rebels.

Indonesia banned the film but groups including the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) have launched a legal challenge against the censors' decision.

Shackleton said: A film should never be banned in a country which is a democracy. Any organisation that tried to ban what the people want to see is making a mockery of democracy. This is about the film and the rights of the people here to watch, think, believe and say what they want, not what the government wants them to do. This film lets the cat out of the bag, you can't keep it quiet any longer, the cat escapes. They have made a problem if they want to censor the film. I trust the Indonesian people to make up their own mind.


10th July   

Update: A New Leaf?...Not...

Burma relaxes on requirement for all journals to publish a page of government propaganda
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Burma...World leaders in oppressive censorship

News publications in Burma have welcomed a minor relaxing of regulations by the country's censor board which will see them no longer having to allocate a page for government propaganda articles.

Magazines, journals and newspapers have long been required to republish text from state-run outlets such as the New Light of Myanmar newspaper. Revised rules now state however that only on occasion will reprints be necessary.

This is good, we welcome it, said one Rangoon-based journal editor, who spoke to DVB on condition of anonymity. Before we had to republish the articles given by the censor board on one page; now we have one more page to publish our own choice of content.

But the move comes less than a fortnight after a wave of new rules were enacted by the censor board that journalists said were unprecedented in their severity. The regulations will implement uniform restrictions across media outlets, meaning that some newspapers and journals which had been able to operate comparatively freely will now be tightly controlled.

The Burmese junta resides over one of the world's strictest media environments, and consistently ranks at the tail-end press freedom indexes. All material is required to pass through the censor board, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), prior to being published.

The PSRD is overseen by the government's information ministry and is considered very much a wing of the military regime, which has ruled Burma in various guises since a coup in 1962.


7th July   

Gold Digging...

Dating show one liner winds up the Chinese TV censors
Link Here

If You Are the One is a Chinese television phenomenon, one of many popular matchmaking shows on which young people seek mates amid ribald jokes from the host and occasional racy comments from guests.

The censorship is the latest and most public example of the government's new crackdown on vice and perceived immorality.

The campaign against TV matchmaking shows began in May and was aimed largely at If You Are the One , on Jiangsu Television, where a bachelor confronts 24 single women who pepper him with questions. The young women have lights placed in front of them, and they switch the lights on or off to indicate whether the contestant should remain on the show.

In the most controversial segment, a 24-year-old fashion model told a poor and unemployed bachelor who offered her a bicycle ride that she would rather cry in a BMW than ride a bicycle while laughing.

The comment incurred the wrath of the censors, who said it indicated a materialistic, gold-digging attitude that was the equivalent of prostitution. Government authorities also told TV stations to bar the woman from future shows.

Her comment ignited a fierce debate in China, with the model's defenders saying she was merely stating openly what many others feel privately.


6th July   

Update: Morally Bankrupt...

Malaysia bans opposition newspaper
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Malaysia...Newspapers forced to toe the government line

The Malaysian government has suspended the publication of a main opposition newspaper in a move political rivals criticised as a crackdown on dissent.

Suara Keadilan, run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, ran into trouble after the authorities said it violated publishing laws with a report this month which claimed a government agency is bankrupt.

The Home Ministry, which oversees Malaysia's newspapers, said it will not renew Suara Keadilan's permit as it was not satisfied with the paper's explanation for the allegedly inaccurate report.

A letter will be issued to inform the printer that it is not allowed to print until a decision is made on the renewal of its permit, the ministry said in a statement.

The opposition vowed to defy the ban.

Update: 4th Ban

20th July 2010. Based on article from

A fourth newspaper has been forced to close in Kuala Lumpur following the government's crackdown on publishing licenses. The suspension of Hakhah's printing office follows the closure of the newspapers Suara Keadilan, Kabar Era Pakatan and Rocket on 30 June.

Suara Keadilan, a leading critical voice in Malaysia, is reported to have been shut down for publishing false news that could incite public unrest. Local activists claim that Prime Minister Najib Razak's government is attempting to silence critical publications ahead of national elections.


4th July   

Bye Bye Bill...

Outgoing New Zealand censor talks about his experiences
Link Here

New Zealand's Chief Censor says he never got used to the disturbing material he had to view in his role.

Bill Hastings is leaving the position he has held since 1999. He told TV's Q+A programme that he'll never be able to get child abuse images out of his mind and it is the worst part of the job. He says the worst stuff comes from the courts and police and about 25-30% of the business is court work involving crime mostly sourced from the internet. He says it is often picked up from people's computers being investigated for other crimes.

He says there have been many times he has left the office to walk around the harbour. You never ever get used to it - it is disturbing.

He continues that most bans involve images of child abuse and 8-14% of anything that comes into the office falls into that category. He says this generally includes anything that promotes or supports things like exploitation of children for sexual purposes, extreme violence, torture and cruelty.

And offensiveness, ugliness and shock value has little to do with the job where he says the legal test is availability and whether the item is likely to be injurious to the public good.

Hastings says what's offensive or ugly doesn't necessarily stop it being legal and the Bill of Rights and freedom of expression laws actually exists to protect the public's ability to say something offensive.

Hastings says the internet has thrown up challenges for censors but their role is not enforcement or investigation and they sit as a quasi judicial body determining classification. He says the education and information function of the organisation has been beefed up to help people understand how and why something harms them: We are trying to arm people and inform people to become their own classification office.


4th July   

Good Moral Use...

Thailand to recruit 200 lay people to monitor websites
Link Here

Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry is working with the Justice and Education ministries to launch Cyber Scout, a project to build a network of volunteers to monitor for inappropriate content on the Internet.

The project will train volunteers to engage with the cyber society and monitor websites that may compromise national security as well as those that criticise the monarchy

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said it would also educate people on the appropriate use of technology: The Internet now is a powerful communications channel and a two-edged sword. It is so important to encourage good moral use of technology for people

ICT Minister Chuti Krairiksh said that in the beginning, this project would recruit 200 people from around the country, including students, teachers, government officials and the private sector, who have computers and Internet literacy.

These people will be trained in the proper use of the Internet and then they will become online volunteer scouts to help the government screen websites.


1st July   

Update: Searching for Compromise...

Google close to clicking on a link out of China
Link Here
Full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google has announced a new approach in its ongoing battle with China over censorship.

Until recently, the firm automatically redirected Chinese users to its unfiltered search site in Hong Kong to get round censorship issues.

Google has said it will now stop this after Beijing warned it could lose its licence to operate in the country. Instead, Chinese users will be sent to a landing page . Clicking anywhere on it sends them to the Hong Kong site.

Google said it was hopeful that this subtle change - where users have to actively click on a link to access unfiltered search results rather than being automatically redirected - would allow it to continue operating in China.

Chinese law demands that companies use web servers based in China.

However, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said there was no guarantee the Chinese authorities would accept the new arrangement.

Google announced the changes one day before its Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence - necessary to operate in the country - was due to expire.

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