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Asia Pacific Censorship News

2011: Jan-March

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24th April   

Update: Hung Jury...

New Zealand TV company wins court case against the censorship of Hung
Link Here

TVNZ has won a battle against the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority, which it believes has become increasingly conservative since its panel was reconstituted last year.

The High Court has ruled that an oral sex scene on the show Hung was not gratuitous, and that the authority was plainly wrong to rule against it.

The broadcaster says it is concerned at a number of decisions that lack consistency, and in our opinion fail to interpret public expectations correctly . TVNZ suggested that a review of the structure and operation of broadcasting standards regulation may be timely .

It indicated last week that it would return to the High Court to challenge the ruling against the Sunday programme in which a police officer used the f-word when describing his heat-of-the-moment exchange with Aramoana killer David Gray.

TVNZ and TV3 joined forces last month to take the authority to the High Court over rulings against Hung and TV3's soap opera Home and Away .

Justice Asher ruled in favour of TVNZ over the Hung decision on the grounds that it was plainly wrong .  The authority had said the scene, in which the main character -- a male prostitute -- gives a woman oral sex, was solely for the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience . Justice Asher disagreed, saying the scene occurred late at night, in an AO-rated show in which sex plays an inevitable part of the narrative .

However Justice Asher upheld the decision against the Home and Away scene, in which a young girl was shown straddling and kissing a boy while wearing only a bra.

That ruling could prove more significant because it rejected a number of approaches the broadcasters were relying on for their appeals. TV3 had argued the authority ignored its own previous similar rulings, ignored context and the content of other G-rated programmes, and gave insufficient reasons.


27th February   

Losing It...

Vietnam demands an online games curfew from 10pm until 8am
Link Here

The Vietnamese government instituted an online curfew and has ordered service providers and Internet cafe' owners to block online game access after 10:00 PM. The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communication has told all ISPs operating in the country to block access to online games from 10 PM to 8 AM.

The government has given ISPs and cafes a deadline of March 3 for the ban to be implemented. Those who do not comply can expect to face some serious fines or be put of business.

This new decree from the Vietnamese government is the latest in a series of measures to curb online game playing among children. It seems that this new ban affects adults as well.


27th February   

The Last Black Swan...

Indonesia sets protectionist tax that may see an end to Hollywood cinema imports
Link Here

Indonesians are fighting to keep Hollywood films in local theatres after warnings that a new tax on foreign-made movies could lead to studios pulling out of the country.

Indonesian authorities see the tax as a way to protect the domestic film industry.

Hollywood as represented by the MPAA has responded that the release of Oscar-nominated Black Swan could be the last for a Hollywood film in this nation of 237 million. Distributors from Europe and Asia have made similar warnings.

Film-lovers have taken to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to complain, while the country's largest cinema chain begged for the government to drop the tax.

We'll see theatres close one by one unless a solution is found, warned Noorca Massardie, spokesman of 21 Cineplex, which has more than 500 screens.

It's outrageous! one woman wrote on Facebook. They're taking away our right to watch high-quality films. She noted that domestic industry, still in its infancy stage, leaves much to be desired.

Minister of Culture Jero Wacik said the tax will be reviewed with a final decision expected in two weeks.

Offsite: The Ghost of Cinema Past

11th June 2011. From

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) stopped distributing films to Indonesia in February after the Indonesian government introduced a new system of calculating and charging royalties on imported films.

I'm sick and bored of not being able to watch good movies in the cinema, said Marisca Djojopranoto, a 25-year-old a film lover in Jakarta: I miss the cinema so much .

Movie fans are not the only ones lamenting the absence of Hollywood films on the big screen. Cinemas are losing between 40 and 50% of their revenues, said Djonny Sjafruddin, chairman of the Indonesian Cinema Operator Association.

We are just showing what we have and what we have are films about ghosts, Sjafruddin said: It's a major blow for the cinemas and if this continues, many of them may fold, he said, adding that some theatres had reduced screening frequencies and the number of studios used.

Locally produced films, mostly of the horror genre with bizarre titles such as In the Embrace of the Teen Ghost's Widow and Dancing Karawang Ghost, have taken over at the box office. Such films don't cost a lot to produce and they can make a little profit, Sjafruddin said.


26th February   

The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear...

China takes internet blocking action against jasmine
Link Here

China's censors increased Internet controls and security officials harassed and detained writers and activists in the wake of an online appeal for a Jasmine Revolution in China, according to international human rights groups and news reports.

Censors blocked the word jasmine after overseas dissident-run news website Boxun and Chinese Twitter users broadcast calls on February 19 to mobilize street protests modeled on recent unrest in the Middle East, according to international news reports. (Twitter is generally blocked in China but accessible to users of proxy networks based overseas.) Only a handful of protesters appeared, although calls continued for government protests characterized as strolls to continue every Sunday around China, according to The Associated Press.

Reports that Chinese police are detaining and harassing bloggers and activists are deeply concerning, said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. China must allow information on political dissension to circulate freely.

Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said Ran Yunfei, a Sichuan-based political writer and blogger, was taken by police on February 20 and formally detained on suspicion of subversion of state power on February 24, according to an official notice sent to his wife. Other overseas groups said police detained Ran on February 20. CPJ could not independently confirm the nature of the charges. Hong Kong University-based China Media Project reported that Ran had been charged with the less serious inciting subversion of state power, citing local online reports.

At least two others were detained after transmitting information about the Jasmine Revolution online, according to overseas rights groups:


14th February

 Offsite: Monks in the Movies...

Link Here
Moral censorship in Thailand

See article from


5th February   

Update: Unmoderated Danger...

Thai webmaster on trial for other people's postings on the forum
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

The trial has started of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, executive director of the Thailand-based independent news Web site Prachatai. She stands accused of 10 different violations of the country's draconian 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA), each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The case centers on comments posted by users of a Prachatai Web board that authorities have charged were defamatory of the Thai monarchy--a criminal offense under Thai law. Chiranuch has been charged under the CCA's Section 15, which pertains to the liability of online intermediaries, including Internet service providers (ISPs) and webmasters.

Prosecution witness Aree Jivorarak, head of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology's (MICT) said in his testimony that when his office brought the comments to Chiranuch's attention she immediately deleted them in her capacity as the Web board's moderator.

Chiranuch told CPJ that Prachatai's online forums received thousands of comments daily in 2008--when the alleged CCA violations occurred--and that it was impossible to police instantly every comment that was posted.

Defense witnesses are expected to argue in upcoming hearings that the CCA's Section 15 is out of step with laws governing intermediary liability in many Western countries and that the Thai law applies unreasonable obligations to webmasters.


4th February   

Classical Dance Censorship...

Chinese pressure on New Zealand dignitaries rebuffed
Link Here

New Zealand's Prime Minister Keith Locke has accused China of exporting its censorship of the Falun Gong to his country, pressuring politicians to boycott a concert by a Chinese performing arts group, reported TVNZ.

Locke has said the Chinese Consul General in Auckland, Liao Juhua, had sent a letter to Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey, asking her not to attend the Shen Yun Performing Arts group's upcoming performances in New Zealand. The letter had said the group had affiliations with the Falun Gong movement.

While some politicians might laugh off this ham-fisted attempt to stop them from attending a cultural performance, others may feel pressured to avoid the event worried about what their presence at the concert could do to sister city or parliamentary relations with China, Locke was quoted as saying.

The letter had called the Falun Gong a heretical and an anti-society cult .

Noting that he had received a similar letter on behalf of 29 Auckland-based Chinese organisations, Locked has said, I am also concerned that some Chinese organisations in Auckland may be acting in league with the Auckland consulate in this matter.

The Shen Yun Performing Arts group performs classical Chinese dance at Auckalnd's ASB Theatre from Feb 3 to 11.


4th February   

National Treasures...

Door art fails to ward off the evil spirits of Chinese censorship
Link Here

The ancient Chinese New Year tradition of decorating your doorway with Door Guardians and Spring Couplets to ward off evil spirits, has just received new inspiration from a prominent artist dissident.

This year, Door Guardians designed by outspoken dissident and artist, Ai Weiwei, have become a very popular New Year charm for scaring the evil.

One of his couplets says: Eliminate Cruelty and Evil, We Want Fairness--Diminish Ghosts and Demons, We Want Righteousness.

Another one, freely translated, says: Kill the Ghosts and Demons, Let Peace be Our Measures--Escape Police and Special-Forces, Here Come National Treasures.

National Treasures refers to new slang terms invented by Internet users aimed at tricking the regime's censorship software and breaking through the Internet blockade.

Predictably Chinese censors were not impressed and they rapidly closed down Weiwei's website. No doubt there will be further hassles for the artist as he has had several run-ins with the authorities before.


31st January   

Update: Internet Censorship...

Malaysia proposes licensing of bloggers and websites
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

The Malaysian government's latest proposal for internet censorship has come under fire from opposition politicians and industry watchers.

According to a report by local news agency Bernama, the Home Ministry was reviewing the definition of the word publication in the country's Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 to decide if it should now include Internet content, blogs and social networks such as Facebook.

Under the Act, all printing presses require a licence that must be renewed yearly and renewed based on the approval of the Home Ministry.

Malaysia's laws, detailing that the Internet cannot be censored, are provisioned under the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. The government has largely kept its promise not to enforce Internet censorship so far.

The announcement, however, has received condemnation from the online community including social networks Twitter and Facebook, as well as politicians and industry watchdogs.

Lim Kit Siang, parliamentary leader of opposition Democratic Action Party, described the move as the government's latest attempt to quell online dissent and a clear violation of its promise not to enforce censorship on the Internet.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) also described the latest move as a backward attempt to block the spread of information to the public.

In a bid to quell the rising dissent, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in the local press that the proposed PPPA amendments have yet to be finalized and discussions are still in the early stage.


28th January   

Year of the Rabbit...

China wound up by animation showing a rabbit uprising against evil oppression
Link Here

A grisly cartoon that marks the upcoming Year of the Rabbit by portraying a bunny revolt against brutal tiger overlords has proven an online hit, with its thinly veiled stab at China's communist rulers.

The video by animator Wang Bo, in which persecuted rabbits overthrow the ruling tigers, went viral on video-sharing sites in recent days thanks to its gruesome depiction of a number of recent scandals.

Wang's cartoon begins with baby rabbits who die horribly from drinking Sanlu milk. Sanlu is the now-defunct Chinese dairy giant that was at the centre of the 2008 tainted milk scanadal.

In the video, rabbit parents are then savagely beaten by tiger thugs when they complain, or are cruelly run over by cars and killed in a reference to two recent cases.

In one, the son of a police official in northern China stood trial this week accused of striking and killing a pedestrian while driving drunk. He reportedly tried to escape arrest by invoking his father's name. In another, a village chief was last month crushed by a truck. Villagers allege he was killed by local officials to silence his complaints about a land seizure by authorities.

After an orgy of violence as the bunnies rise up, the video ends with a character saying: It will really be an interesting year.

It is unsurprisingly unavailable on websites in China.


26th January   

Painful Cuts...

Philippines censors ban Adolf Alix Jr's Chassis
Link Here
Full story: Movie censorship in Philippines...Philippines censor bans and cuts

Internationally-recognized Filipino writer-director Adolf Alix, Jr. has cried foul over the ban that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) slapped on his latest opus, Chassis .

Known for his other works that include Aurora, Donsol, Kadin, Batanes and Tambolista , Alix said the MTRCB's decision stemmed from a scene showing lead actress Jodi Sta. Maria simulate the cutting of the penis of co-actor Paolo Rivero.

The reviewers want to remove and just 'establish' the ending but I think it is very vital for the character of Jodi, he said in a interview.

I will stand by showing it in its integral version because if the scene is taken in context, it was not shot to arouse prurient interest but rather as an act of revenge by the poor woman who was victimized, he added.

Alix has asked the board to reconsider its judgment.

Chassis is about a single mother's struggles amid the hardship of raising her child in an abandoned container van. It was among a handful of local films hailed in international film festivals including the Pusan International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina.


22nd January   


Singapore acts against political blog by redefining it as a political association
Link Here

In a country where the government has oppressive control over the traditional media—newspapers and television—Singaporeans with an appetite for alternative views have long gravitated towards the internet. So the news that one of the main independent socio-political blog sites The Online Citizen (TOC), is being gazetted by the government has sent shockwaves through Singapore's burgeoning, boisterous (and now rather fearful) online community.

Gazetting is a means by which the government can demand that any organisation be reclassified as a political association. The site is to be designated as a political website. This means that TOC will fall under repressive rules that govern other political organisations—like parties.

Under the Political Donations Act, TOC will be subject to a cap of 5,000 Singapore dollars ($3,900) in accepting anonymous donations and banned outright from receiving funds from foreign donors.

The government's registry of political donations has already asked TOC to identify clearly all its owners, journalists and anyone else associated with the site. It was given two weeks to comply. And this is but one of the new rules to which the site will be subject.


21st January   

Black Box Solution...

Nintendo opts to highlight mature age rated games using black packaging
Link Here

Taking a lead from a packaging policy that they introduced for the Wii last year, Nintendo will be packaging their mature 3DS titles in black cases.

Any game which achieves the Japanese equivalent of a BBFC 15 or a PEGI 16+ (CERO C) or higher will be packaged in a black box instead of Nintendo's usual white packaging.


21st January   

Same Old...

A new body to protect journalists interests formed from the existing repressive press censors
Link Here

A new unit ostensibly charged with protecting the interests of journalists and issuing guidelines for media practice has been formed by Burma's draconoian censor board.

Media freedom in the Southeast Asian pariah is amongst the world's lowest – all material in the various domestic news journals and magazines in circulation has to be vetted by the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) prior to publication.

The PSRD's role in establishing the new body, the Committe for Professional Conduct (CPC), has thus worried interested parties.

We really want the sort of committe which can protect and promote us, said one Rangoon-based journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity. But we are disappointed because the committe is established by the PSRD.


19th January   

Cold Wind Blows...

China targets foreign music on file sharing sites that has bypassed the music censors
Link Here

Chinese music censors have removed 100 unauthorized songs from music websites, including Eminem's Cold Wind Blows, K.T. Tunstall's Push That Knot Away and Bruno Mars' Grenade .

The ministry plans to set a standard market for online music sharing by the end of February.

Imported music must be passed by the Culture Ministry.


17th January   

Fare Comment...

China arrests micro blogger for tweets about a taxi strike
Link Here

According to NDdaily, a man, known as Mr. Zhou, was arrested for micro-blogging a Taxi driver strike at Xianning city on December 19, 2010 under the charge of organizing a mob to disturb the social order . He is still under police detention.

Zhou was once a taxi driver and participated in Taxi driver strike back in 2006. But he has since changed his occupation.

On December 16, 2010, a large scale Taxi driver strike took place in Xianning city and on December 18, Zhou reported the strike via his Tianya micro blog account. He had sent out a total of 17 tweets on the strike eg:

Since December 16 2010, a large scale Taxi driver strike has taken place in Hubei Xianning. The reason behind the action is the government's decision to draw back the Taxi operation license which had been issued for more than 10 years. This strike is similar to the one happened in February 2006. However, this time the police has arrested the active drivers. All the government has mobilized all the city police to monitor and track down the drivers. All level of the governments and leaders of city, county and town governments are determined to accomplish the mission.

Zhou was arrested the next day on December 19 2010 and his computer was confiscated. According to the arrest document, he was in suspect of organizing a mob to disturb the social order .


17th January   

Update: Authorised Repression...

Vietnam issues a decree for further draconian internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

Vietnam has issued a new decree to censor the activities of journalists and bloggers that includes provision for fines of up to 40 million dong (2,000 dollars) in a country in which the average salary is 126 dollars.

The government is demonstrating its determination to tighten its grip on news and information just as the ruling Communist Party is holding its congress, Reporters Without Borders said: This decree is trying to apply the censorship already in force for traditional media to blogs.

The press freedom organization added: The protection of the confidentiality of sources is seriously threatened by this decree. The government is going after online anonymity by trying to prevent bloggers from using pseudonyms. This could make it easier for the authorities both to harass them and to arrest and jail them.

Due to take effect next month, the decree makes it an offence to publish information that is non-authorised or not in the interests of the people. By interpreting these vague definitions broadly, the authorities will be able to increase the number of arrests of blogger and journalists.

The decree also provides for fines of up to 3 million dong (155 dollars) for anyone who publishes documents or letters without identifying themselves or revealing their sources, and for up to 20 million dong if the documents are linked to an official investigation.


15th January   

Updated: Censorship in Motion...

RIM agree to censor porn for Blackberry phones in Indonesia
Link Here
Full story: BlackBerry Mobile Phones...Winding up countries who can't snoop on users

Facing a BlackBerry ban in Indonesia, Research In Motion. says it will comply as soon as possible with a government demand that it block pornography from its smartphones.

RIM has until Jan. 21 to begin filtering porn sites or face legal action including revocation of its permit to operate in the country, one of RIM's fastest-growing international markets. Communication and information technology minister Tifatul Sembiring said that may include a complete blocking of the BlackBerry's web browsing capability.

RIM is in talks with domestic phone carriers to find a remedy, the Waterloo, Ont-based company said in a statement. It did not respond to a request for further comment.

Update: Better in Malaysia

15th January 2011. See  article from

Malaysia will not ban the use of the Blackberry smartphone as of now as it has not caused any problem with regard to security, culture and administration, said Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

However, he said, if there were sections of society with the facts to prove that the Blackberry phone were causing problems, the ministry through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), would investigate the matter under the country's existing laws.

He was referring to reports that the Indonesian government planned to ban the use of the Blackberry phone in the republic if its order for the service provider to implement pornography blockers and to create a server is not adhered to implemented.

Update: Worse in India

15th January 2011. See  article from

The Indian government, which fears that the heavy encryption on RIM's BlackBerry smartphones makes them convenient for terrorists to use undetected, has asked RIM to grant access to its messenger services before Jan 31, 2011.

According to WSJ:

The lawful access capability now available to RIM's carrier partners meets the standard required by the government of India for all consumer messaging services offered in the Indian marketplace, RIM said in a customer update seen by Dow Jones Newswires.

No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server [corporate email] customers since, contrary to any rumors, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys, RIM's customer update said.

RIM continues to work closely with the government and RIM's carrier partners in India…We are pleased to have delivered a solution well before a mutually agreed milestone date of January 31, 2011, RIM said.


10th January   

Ordering a MacCensor Takeaway...

GayNZ object to having their website blocked in MacDonald's
Link Here

McDonald's has caused controversy in the GLBT community after blocking access to gay-related websites for Wellington customers using its free WiFi service. says it has received numerous complaints from the community that sites they frequent cannot be accessed.

The complaints say has been blocked, as has The Agender site for transgender people; Rainbow Youth, an advice site for young people is also blocked. was also unavailable.

McDonald's have sent an email response to, after the website contacted them for comment:

We're a family restaurant chain, and as part of offering this new Free WiFi service, our policy is that viewed content must be of a family friendly nature, i.e.- suitable for a child to view.

Because of this, access to a number of websites is blocked, including access to gambling, tobacco and adult mature content websites.

We stress that all the content of allowable sites must meet family friendly criteria. By this we mean a child cannot access a website where they can click on any content, link or third party advertisement and access sexually explicit content and images.

You will also appreciate that there are inevitably teething problems with the introduction of a new service and getting our filtering process right is one such issue.

McDonald's say they are prepared to review and other websites customers feel are unfairly blocked.

Offsite Comments: Follow up

11th January 2010.

See  NZers bite back over WiFi censorship story from

Update: Block removed

21st January 2010.

See article from

McDonalds gay block has been removed from stores

Last week the fast-food company caved to public pressure and began unblocking gay sites, but stood firm on because it claimed third-party advertising wasn't family friendly.


1st January   

A Change of Goalposts...

North Korea sees the first Western film allowed on TV
Link Here

The 2002 movie Bend It Like Beckham has proved a rare treat for North Koreans as the first Western film ever on government-approved TV.

Britain's North Korea ambassador Peter Hughes, who helped arrange the viewing, told the Associated Press that it was a great choice for the isolated country.

The movie, which won critical acclaim upon its release to the rest of the world almost a decade ago, apparently was a hit in North Korea - even though the film was reportedly edited.

It was not immediately clear what was edited out, but the cut showing still proved to be a hit, Hughes said.

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