Melon Farmers Original Version

Asia Pacific Censorship News

2013: July-Sept

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Update: A Few New Friends...Not!...

China realises that internet censorship censorship can be a burden in business and is set to allow social network websites in a new free trade zone

Link Here27th September 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Reporters Without Borders takes note of a report in today's South China Morning Post revealing that leading foreign social networks and news websites will be accessible in the Shanghai free trade zone that is to be inaugurated at the end of the month.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a government source told the newspaper that, as an experiment, the authorities were on the point of allowing access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and the New York Times website in the Shanghai business district of Pudong, where the free trade zone will be located.

Reporters Without Borders said:

By taking this decision, the Chinese government is acknowledging that Internet censorship is bad for business. We regret that this lifting of censorship will apply to just a limited part of the country and that the reasons behind it are purely economic.

Targeted mainly at foreigners, this measure will probably not benefit the Chinese population. It should be extended to all Chinese Internet users, who are now the victims of discrimination in access to information.

As in the Hong Kong free trade zone, the Chinese authorities want the Shanghai free trade zone to attract foreign telecommunications companies that will offer their Internet connection services to companies based in the zone. The restrictions on Internet access are being lifted with the chief aim of attracting additional foreign investment, and the measure will apply only to an area of some 30 square kilometres centred on Pudong.

Update: Just a rumour. Censorship continues unabated

27th September 2013. See  article from

China's regime doesn't want visitors reading The New York Times after all, even in the free trade zone.

The People's Daily is disputing those initial reports, insisting that internet management measures inside the Shanghai zone will be identical to those elsewhere in China. The state-run media outlet also emphasized that the government plans to clamp down on any pornography, gambling, drugs, and smuggling within the Shanghai free trade zone, according to The Register.



Under Fire...

Sri Lanka convinces Malaysia to ban a private showing of the documentary, No Fire Zone

Link Here21st September 2013
Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the Malaysian human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS, has been charged under the Film Censorship Act for organising a private screening of the documentary film called No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka .

Pressure originally came from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia. They faxed a letter to the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH) asking them not to screen the documentary.  On July 1, 2013, Lena Hendry had received a call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who asked the organisers to stop the screening because the film had not gone under censorship. She had replied that the screening was private and upon invitation only.

In the evening of July 3, 2013, Pusat KOMAS, together with the KLSCAH, organised a private screening of No Fire Zone directed by British Director Callum Macrae. At about 8.30 pm, about 30 minutes after the start of the screening, about 30 officials of the KDN, immigration officials and the police entered the Chinese Assembly hall and requested to check the film. After the screening, said officials insisted on checking the identity cards of all participants before they left the venue.

On September 19, 2013, the Home Ministry and Attorney General Chamber filed a charge against Lena Hendry under the Film Censorship Act 2002, which says no one should screen any film or related publicity materials that have not been approved by the Censorship Board.  A judge granted her bail of 1,000 ringgit, and set the next date for Hendry to appear in court to October 21, 2013.

The Observatory reiterates its call on the authorities of Malaysia to put an immediate end to the continuing judicial harassment of Ms. Lena Hendry, all Pusat KOMAS members as well as against all human rights defenders in the country, as it is arbitrary and seems to merely aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.

Update: On trial

22nd October 2013. See  article from

Charges against two KOMAS members were dropped but the charge against Ms Hendry still stands and her trial began this morning in Kuala Lumpur. KOMAS argues that the Film Censorship Act does not apply in this case -- the screening was a private affair with guests required to register in advance -- a format that has been used on numerous occasions in the past, it says. If Ms Hendry is found guilty, however, she is liable to spend up to three years in prison.



The Three legged Race Becomes an Olympic Event...

Japan whinges about a cartoon alluding to the nuclear accident and the Olympics

Link Here13th September 2013
Japan is to lodge an official complaint about a cartoon in a French newspaper that links the Fukushima nuclear disaster with Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

The cartoon, which appeared in the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine , shows two sumo wrestlers -- each with an extra arm or leg -- with the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. At the edge of the panel, a TV announcer dressed in a hazardous materials suit says: Marvellous! Thanks to Fukushima, sumo is now an Olympic sport.

The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said a formal complaint would be lodged with the French embassy in Tokyo, claiming that the cartoon hurt the victims of the triple disaster that struck Japan's north-east coast on 11 March 2011. He said:

It is inappropriate and gives the wrong impression about the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi. It is extremely regrettable.



More Censors Please...

China orders the banning of violence and erotic content from children's books

Link Here13th September 2013
In a bid to censor supposedly obscene and violent content in children's reading , the Chinese government has released a circular calling for stricter supervision over children's publications.

The document, jointly released by five departments including the Ministry of Education and the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said:

The children ' s publications market has been thriving with many quality works that boost healthy development , but problems also exist , such as shoddy quality , improper content and overly high prices.

The circular urged administrative departments to strictly ban publications that contain murder, violence, obscenity and erotic content. It also told publishing houses to train professional editing teams for children' s titles.



Update: Three Years in Jail for Trending Rumours...

China confirms the rumours that China is a nasty place to live

Link Here11th September 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China has unveiled repressive new measures to stop the spread of what the government calls irresponsible rumours, threatening offenders with three years in jail if untrue posts online are widely reposted, drawing an angry response from Chinese internet users.

China is in the middle of yet another crackdown on what it terms online rumours , as the government tries to further repress social media and the discussion of politics.

According to a judicial interpretation issued by China's top court and prosecutor, people will be charged with defamation if online rumours they create are visited by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times. That could lead to three years in jail.

Users of China's popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site expressed anger about the new rules. It's far too easy for something to be reposted 500 times or get 5,000 views. Who is going to dare say anything now? wrote one Weibo user.



Mr Bean Airways...

Thai Airways does a dreadful job of looking after passengers involved in a plane crash, and then tries to hope that no one notices which airline crashed, by censoring the aircraft logos

Link Here10th September 2013
About 40 passengers injured in Sunday night's Thai Airways crash have complained of poor treatment by ground staff.

THAI flight TG679 from Guangzhou, China veered off the runway on landing at Suvarnabhumi after an apparent landing gear malfunction.

Fourteen injured passengers were sent to hospital and of them 12 have now been discharged. There were complaints by some 40 injured passengers and others that Thai Airways International responded slowly and poorly to the Sunday night incident.

The passengers gathered at Suvarnabhumi airport Monday evening to submit their complaints to THAI president Sorajak Kasemsuvan. They said no one from the airline had informed them of how the company would reimburse their medical fees. They also claimed a lack of communication immediately after the accident, saying they were left abandoned.

Buses ferrying the passengers from the stricken plane remained stationary with passengers locked inside unattended for 20 minutes. Passengers were then taken to immigration counters, but some of the passengers had fled the aircraft without their passports, causing confusion.

Passenger Panuwat Phanvichartkul said after leaving the plane, travellers were marshalled to shuttle buses.

The buses were packed with passengers, including those who were injured and in a state of extreme shock. They needed officials to take care of them and provide them with first aid, but there was no one.

At the terminal, no staff members were there to receive passengers. There was not even a glass of water to drink.

Perhaps the ground staff were otherwise engaged with more important tasks. Thai Airways workers erected a crane and blacked out the crashed plane's logo.

ITV quoted Thai Airways official Smud Poom-On as ludicrously claiming that the blurring was a recommendation from the Star Alliance, under which the airline operates, to protect its image. However Star Alliance soon denied such nonsense.



Update: No Metal...

Malaysians are easily offended by US rockers, Lamb of God

Link Here6th September 2013
Full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars
A US metal band has been barred from performing in Malaysia, after officials claim the group would infringe the country's religious sensitivities. The Communications and Multimedia Ministry refused to grant the band a permit.

Last week, the Department of Islamic Development also objected to the group's performance, claiming that the music the group performed mixed metal songs with verses from the Koran.

In a statement Lamb of God said:

We would invite anyone offended by our music to engage in a discussion regarding the true motivations behind our work, especially before publicly slandering us based on assumptions and shallow misinterpretation.



The Film Most Likely to be Banned...

Thai groups organise a Melon Farming film competition

Link Here5th September 2013
Thai groups iLaw and Movie Audience Network have organized a film competition to defy local film censorship.

Unlike other film contests, where prizes may be awarded for aesthetics, technical directing or acting, the film competition organized by three local organizations, Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw), Bioscope Magazine and the Movie Audience Network, will present awards to the director of the film most likely to be banned by the Thai authorities.

According to the organizers, the Film Likely to be Banned project aims to challenge the 2007 Film and Video Act, which grants to the Film and Video Board under the Ministry of Culture the authority to ban films which might undermine public order and morality , or affect national security and the honour of Thailand .

Last year, Shakespeare Must Die was banned under the Film and Video Act on the grounds that it would cause rifts among the people in the nation. The film is about a dictator who killed the king to become ruler, and was an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. In late 2010, the film Insects in the Backyard was barred because a scene featured students in school uniforms having sexual relationships.

The short film contest, under the slogan closer to the edge with artfulness, opened for entries in April, and will present the awards this Saturday.

The contest received 40 films submitted by amateur directors from all over the country. 15 have been shortlisted for the award. The films will be screened before the awards ceremony at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre this Saturday, September 7th.

The event will not however screen three films that were considered by the organizers as having legal implications that were too risky.



Update: Internet Users Silenced...

Vietnam bans its people from discussing current affairs on the internet

Link Here2nd September 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Vietnam...New law requiring websites to delete content

A repressive law banning Vietnamese online users from discussing current affairs has come into effect.

The decree, known as Decree 72, says blogs and social websites should not be used to share news articles, but only personal information. It also prohibits the online publication of material that opposes the Vietnamese government or harms national security .

The law also requires foreign internet companies to keep their local servers inside Vietnam.

It has been widely criticised by internet companies and human rights groups, as well as the US government. Last month the US embassy in Hanoi said it was deeply concerned by the decree's provisions , arguing that fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline .

The Asia Internet Coalition, an industry group that represents companies including Google and Facebook, said the move would stifle innovation and discourage businesses from operating in Vietnam .



Updated: Pissing Up a Flag Pole...

Malaysian state attempts to ban the movie, Tanda Putera

Link Here31st August 2013

The Penang government is asking cinemas in the island state to observe a ban of the movie Tanda Putera .

The executive councillor in charge of local government affairs Chow Kon Yeow announced the state's decision and said the request will be issued today:

We have no control over the content of the film, (which is the prerogative of) Finas (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia).

However, in view of the sensitive nature of the movie, we are directing the two local councils to write in to ask the 'cooperation' of the cinemas to not screen the movie.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng claimed:

The film has scenes which are slanderous, based on lies, and it is a threat to the harmony between the different communities in the country.

Those scenes of Chinese youth urinating inside the Selangor menteri besar (Datuk Harun Idris') residence and Malaysian flag can create chaos in society.

We cannot understand how the government can spend money to sponsor such a malicious and dangerous film.

Lim's father, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, has been engaged in a war of words with Tanda Putera director Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, for the past year since news broke of an inflammatory scene of a Chinese man urinating on a flag pole at the Selangor mentri besar's residence in the historical film.

Update: Tanda Putera opens in Penang

31st August 2013. See  article from

The film opened in Penang after a two-day delay.

The movies was set to open after the state government's clarification that it had never issued a directive against the movie, but had merely given an advisory . The film has been approved by the Censorship Board.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng gave an assurance that the state government would not take any action against cinema operators who screen the movie.



Revenge Torture Porn?...

North Korean story of presidents mistress being executed under the unlikely cover of making porn movies

Link Here30th August 2013
According to unconfirmed reports coming out of North Korea, singer Hyon Song-wol of the Unhasu Orchestra and 11 fellow singers, musicians and dancers were executed on August 20 by a machine gun firing squad,

Supposedly the musicians appeared in one or more sexually explicit movies and sold them secretly, apparently to finance the orchesta's activities.

Hyon was reportedly the ex-lover of North Korean president Kim Jong-un, as well as a fellow performer with Kim's current wife, Ri Sol-ju.

If the reports are to be believed, Hyon and Kim were an item for more than a decade, though Kim Jong-un's father, former president Kim Jong-il, had tried to put a stop to the romance, though rumors persisted that the current president and Hyon were still carrying on an illicit affair up until at least a month ago, when the pair were spotted attending a concert together.

It's unclear whether the porn making story is credible but it sounds a little doubtful. If these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution, said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs. They could have been made to disappear into the prison system there instead... There is a political reason behind this.

One suggestion is that Hyon may have been shot at the jealous insistence of Kim Jong-un's wife.

Update: Bollox

18th May 2014. See  article from

The ex-girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who was thought to have been executed by firing squad last year has appeared back on state television smiling and talking.

In what is a miraculous turn of events, singer Hyon Song-wyol seems to have come back from the dead after being interviewed during a state broadcast.



Offsite Article: From Burma to China, the cinema industry tests the limits of censorship...

Link Here 25th August 2013
Burma's once-celebrated film industry is enjoying a revival after years of funding shortages and suffocating censorship

See article from



Blurred Thinking...

The world mocks Thailand for censoring swimming costumes in TV anime

Link Here15th August 2013
Ludicrous TV censorship in Thailand has again come under fire after a blogger posted blurred out content in scenes from Japanese cartoons, or animes, broadcast by MCOT Channel 9.

The blogger wrote his posting in a Japanese news website on Aug 9, including in it a video clip and two images. The posting went viral and has been attracting attention from many online communities.

In the video clip, female characters from the Sailor Moon animation series have their swimsuits blurred out. The girl Shisuka in the popular Doraemon cartoon also has her swimwear edited in the same way, while another picture portrays a young Son Goku from the classic Dragon Ball Z anime with his chest censored as his clothes are ripped apart during a transformation.

The blogger pointed out that many viewers do not think about anything inappropriate when they watch cartoons. However, when censorship is applied it makes audiences assume that there is something unsuitable on screen and brings the content to their attention.



Offsite Article: Be Careful What You 'Like'...

Link Here14th August 2013
Thailand bigs up internet snooping and tells Facebook users that they are being watched

See article from



Offsite Article: China Buying up Taiwan's Media?...

Link Here13th August 2013
In Taiwan, censorship quietly flourishes amid outrage. Its once-famously freewheeling press is becoming more reliant on China as cross-strait cultural and media exchanges grow

See article from



Recommended Reading...

Prize winning children's book referred to the New Zealand book censor

Link Here11th August 2013
A children's novel is being reviewed by the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Censorship (OFLC).

Auckland author Ted Dawe's Into the River claimed the top prize in this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. But the Herald on Sunday reported one well-regarded book store refused to stock the novel because of explicit descriptions of sex and drug-taking. Parental advisory stickers were sent to stores to put on the covers after concerns were raised.

OFLC Information officer Kate Ward this week confirmed Into the River was now being reviewed and a decision would be made within weeks. The office has the authority to order a book be labelled unrestricted and recommend a suitable age or restricted - with a legally-enforceable age limit for sale or distribution.



Offsite Article: Pruning the Tree of Knowledge...

Link Here10th August 2013
Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales said he would rather have no Wikipedia in China than comply with any form of censorship.

See article from



Update: Oppression of People's Websites...

Chinese authorities shut down websites related to legal rights and anti-corruption reporting

Link Here7th August 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Over 100 illegal websites have been shut down by Chinese authorities since early May. Many believe that the crackdown is aimed at independent watchdog sites in mainland China.

According to the State Internet Information Office, the 107 websites were shut down for failing to obtain official permission to establish and run sites, allegedly blackmailing government and corporate officials, and using terms such as China and people in their names.

However the Chinese authorities didn't mention the onerous expense and conditions that make it nearly impossible for small websites to actually obtain such permission.

For individuals or small groups wanting to start their own websites, these regulations create large, often insurmountable obstacles. Many do not have the resources to comply with government requests for content removal and user data, which can easily become a full-time job for one or more people. Others are unable to obtain the costly business licenses needed to apply for an online content provider license.

To get around these bureaucratic procedures, some choose to affiliate themselves with established institutions or corporations so that they can register as a web-branch of a legitimate entity. Currently, there are many privately-run websites registered as web-branches of established institutions. A crackdown on these web-branches would be disastrous.

A handful of sites on the crackdown list are indeed linked to corporate extortion. But most of the so-called blackmailing activities are citizen initiatives that uncover corruption of government officials and party members.

Websites that use terms such as people , China and Chinese to name themselves are considered fraudulent and thus deemed illegal . The Chinese authorities claimed that websites such as People's Voices or People's shopping , People's News mislead the public, giving the false impression that these sites are affiliated with the Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily.

Among the sites recently taken down are several devoted to citizen legal rights and anti-corruption efforts, including China Legal Rights Net, Xiaoxiang Anti-corruption Forum, Legal Rights Defense Net, China Legal System Monitor, People's Rights Monitor, Legal Report, People's Petition, and many other similar organizations.



Update: Rumours of Overreaction...

Thai Government doesn't like Facebook likes

Link Here6th August 2013

Police in Thailand have opened investigations of four people for supposedly causing panic by posting rumours of a possible military coup on Facebook.

Such rumours are commonplace in Thailand and it would take more than a few articles on Facebook to create even a credible rumour. But of course authorities are prone to go over the top, and a police chief has threatened to charge anyone who even liked the postings.

The move comes as Bangkok braces for possible political protests this week coinciding with a reconciliation bill related to the 2006 coup in the country.

Technology Crime Suppression division chief Police Maj. Gen. Pisit Paoin said that the four posted Facebook entries with false information that could damage the country. Among those accused are Sermsuk Kasitipradit, the political editor of public television channel TPBS, and a local pro-government protest leader. The postings mentioned a possibility of a military coup and urged the public to hoard food and water. Pisit threatened:.

Those who 'liked' and 'shared' the posts will also face charges, so we would like to ask the public to contemplate very carefully about the way they use social media,

More than 1,000 anti-government protesters kicked off a rally in Bangkok on Sunday as lawmakers were scheduled to deliberate on the controversial bill on Wednesday. Last week, the government invoked the Internal Security Act in three Bangkok districts, citing the possibility of protest violence. The act, in effect from Aug. 1 - 10, authorizes officials to seal off roads, take action against security threats, impose curfews and ban the use of electronic devices in designated areas. Peaceful and unarmed rallies are allowed under the law.



Update: Decree 72...

Vietnam announces a ban on the discussion of news on blogs and social media

Link Here2nd August 2013
Full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

Vietnam has announced a new law that will ban the discussion of news on blogs and social media. The law will take effect in September.

Known as Decree 72 , the law restricts the use of blogs and social networks to providing or exchanging personal information and bans using them to share information from news sources.

Reporters Without Borders said:

The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011. If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums.

The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous. Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge (without US help). But, at the same time, it will reinforce the legislative arsenal available to the authorities.

They will no longer have to charge independent news providers with 'anti-government propaganda' or 'trying to overthrow the government.' Instead, they will just have to set a few examples under the new law in order to get the others to censor themselves.

If Decree 72 is implemented, we urge the entire international community to condemn Vietnam severely and to consider imposing economic sanctions, especially on the tourism sector, to which the government pays a great deal of attention. Sanctions on tourism are the most likely way to get a reaction from the authorities.

Until now, blogs and social networks have been important sources of news and information for Vietnamese Internet users, and an effective way of bypassing censorship. But Prime Minister Dung announced that they could henceforth be used only to provide or exchange personal information.

Update: American deeply concerned

7th August 2013. See  article from

The US has criticised a new internet decree in Vietnam that would restrict online users from discussing current affairs.

The law, announced last week and due to come into force in September, says social media should only be used for [exchanging] personal information .

The US embassy in Hanoi said it was deeply concerned by the decree.



The Village Censor...

Malaysian government bows to newspaper criticism and looks set ban the movie, The New Village

Link Here30th July 2013

The New Village is a 2013 Malaysia drama by Kew Lit.
With Valentine Cawley, Jeff Chin and Sam Chong. YouTube icon IMDb

Following a wave of criticism in the country's conservative press, director Kew Lit's historical drama, The New Village, has been sent back to the censorship board for a second review, and a possible ban.

The film, a period feature told in Mandarin Chinese, tells a love story set in Malaysia's tumultuous "Malayan Emergency" period of the 1940s and 50s, when a communist uprising, lead largely by the country's ethnic Chinese population, fought for independence from British colonial rule.

According to the film makers, it was approved for commercial exhibition by the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) on Sept. 4 of 2012 and given a P13 classification (PG-13).  But when a trailer was released on Youtube in June, a series of conservative editorials in local dailies attacked the film, suggesting that it portrays the communist uprising as heroic.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters that:

We do not want sensitive issues to be raised, especially when the film is scheduled for release ahead of the country's National Day on 31st of August.

The Home Ministry has sent the movie back to the Malaysian Film Censorship Board for further review. A process that previously led to the ban of the similarly themed, The Last Communist by Amir Muhammad.



Updated: Objectionable Censorship...

Franck Khalfoun's Maniac banned in New Zealand

Link Here27th July 2013

A serial killer horror film starring Elijah Wood has been banned from cinema and DVD release in New Zealand.

The Office of Film and Literature censorship (OFLC) has classified Maniac as restricted to festival-only screenings and banning it from further release.

It is the first film to receive the special Festival-only classification since The Bridge in 2007 and means that the film cannot be released on DVD at a later date.

The remake of Maniac has been classified as supposedly 'objectionable' for the unwashed masses, but is OK for 'clever' people for the purpose of study in a tertiary media or film studies course or screened as part of a film festival.

The full restricted classification note is: R18 graphic violence, sex scenes, content that may disturb.

The film has been programmed for the NZIFF Incredibly Strange section by Ant Timpson, with screenings scheduled for Auckland and Wellington. Timpson said:

The OFLC decision says that the film may be 'injurious to the public good' if it goes out on a wider release. It's saying that the POV nature of the film mixed with the psychopathic behaviour of actor Elijah Wood is more than disturbing, that it's potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person (that is, a non-festival goer).

The film's distributors said:

The ban is an insult to the intelligence of the adult population of New Zealand and does little more than to serve as an open invitation to illegally pirate the film. We are flabbergasted.

New Zealand is the only western country to have banned Maniac

Update: New Zealand film censor compliments the director

26th July 2013.  See  article from

The New Zealand censor has now added a note of explanation for the ban:

While the feature does not actively promote or support this material, the tacit invitation to enjoy cruel and violent behavior through its first-person portrayal and packaging as entertainment is likely to lead to an erosion of empathy for some viewers,

The news that his slasher movie Maniac had been banned from theaters in New Zealand took director Franck Khalfoun completely by surprise, and like the movie itself, the French filmmaker was juggling a sense of outrage and perverse glee. He told Buzzfeed:

I suppose they have to control people and not let them see things; I think censorship is completely bogus. I don't know how to take it. I guess as a genre filmmaker, it's a compliment.

Update: New Zealand film censor recommends Maniac

26th July 2013.  See  article from

Maniac's distributor says that the banning is an invitation to piracy and the signs are that's exactly what's happening.

And here lies the problem. While the MPAA, BBFC and OFLC in New Zealand might like to think they have the final say over what people can see, file-sharing networks simply don't listen. With this in mind TorrentFreak decided to take a snapshot of activity of those sharing Maniac on BitTorrent networks. It's unlikely that Monster Pictures (or the OFLC) will be happy with our findings.

1 United States 18.4%
2 United kingdom 8.6%
3 New Zealand 6.7%
4 Brazil 6.7%
5 Philippines 5.9%
6 Australia 4.2%
7 Canada 4.0%
8 The Netherlands 3.6%
9 Israel 3.3%
10 Argentina 2.3%

As expected the United States with its huge 314m population is well ahead in first place with 18.4% of the downloaders. In second with its 62.7m population comes the United Kingdom with 8.6%. But in third, punching well beyond its population of just 4.4 million, is New Zealand clocking up 6.7% of downloaders. By comparison, Brazil -- also on 6.7% of downloaders -- has a population of 197 million.

When previously assessing other TV show and movie releases it's been very rare for New Zealand to make a showing in the top ten, let alone the top three downloading nations. In percentage terms of overall downloaders, the turnout for Maniac surpasses that previously achieved by Kiwis for The Hobbit.

Update: New Zealand film censor reveals full details about the ban

27th July 2013.  See article [pdf] from

The censor explains:

The film's lurid opening, gratuitously over-blown murders and cliched profile of a serial killer clearly site it as a work of homage to a bygone era of filmmaking. Those viewers with knowledge of the original film, notorious for its gruesome and creative visual effects work, may also appreciate or be curious about how it has been remade, in particular given the involvement of Elijah Wood, an actor instantly recognisable for his work in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

The widespread use of first-person perspective is problematic however for portraying events so entirely from Frank's point-of-view, in effect allying the viewer with his view of the women he kills, and encouraging vicarious participation. The film itself does nothing to counter Frank's own warped view of women as sexy, promiscuous, and unobtainable, and somehow deserving of their deaths. The measured way in which Frank is able to track, subdue, and butcher all these women, without the interference of police or members of the public, creates a sadistic fantasy that revels in depicting women's helplessness and cruel murder.

The publication contains highly offensive language, in particular use of the word fuck. Emulation of this language such as by impressionable young viewers would result in serious harms that could include alienation or intimidation.

The dominant effect of the publication as a whole is of a technically-proficient remake of a 1980s cult horror film that depicts sadistic acts of violence aimed mostly at women. Given the preponderance of scenes shot from the killer's point-of-view the murders could be read as a discourse about violence in film, our responses to it, our complicity and awareness of taking enjoyment from a killer's twisted fantasy, however a likelier reading is that the film merely presents the fantasy itself.

The unrestricted availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good. The feature is an unsubtle portrait of a serial killer who targets women in cruel ways; the murders are depicted in first-person perspective, inviting a viewer's vicarious participation. This material would be highly disturbing and shocking to children and teenagers, and indeed most adults. While the feature does not actively promote or support this material, the tacit invitation to enjoy cruel and violent behaviour through its first-person portrayal and packaging as entertainment is likely to lead to an erosion of empathy for some viewers. The misogynistic representation of women adds to this likely injury.

Given the characteristics of this film in particular the POV stalking of women and their graphic murders, the Office has a concern around the availability of this film in other mediums or on general theatrical release. The Classification Office is of the opinion that its availability is likely to be injurious to the public good unless restricted to adults in settings of bona fide film festival screenings or tertiary film studies.

If the exaggeration of harm caused by the commonly used 'fuck' is anything to go by I think the views of New Zealand censor can be safely dismissed as hysterical nonsense:

The publication contains highly offensive language, in particular use of the word fuck. Emulation of this language such as by impressionable young viewers would result in serious harms that could include alienation or intimidation.

Update: The distributor replies

27th July 2013.  See article [pdf] from

It would appear that the NZ OFLC take particular offense at the use of a devise within the film that shows the murders from the killers POV, suggesting that this device invites the viewers vicarious participation in the murders and could cause an erosion of empathy to those exposed to the film.

Monster Pictures reject this claim outright. Horror is a cinematic genre enjoyed by millions of healthy, well-adjusted people around the world, these people demand films that challenge and disturb them, it is the most basic tenet of the genre. To suggest, that exposure to a film such as MANIAC lessens the impact of real violence to these viewers or could somehow lead to incidence of real violence is preposterous and as far as we are concerned, is supported by no genuine evidence.

The NZ OFLC also suggest in their report that MANIAC would be highly disturbing and shocking to children and teenagers, and indeed most adults. , Monster Pictures agree, so why then does the OFLC turn its back on its own rating system? which, in our opinion, very effectively rates motion pictures and also provides very adequate consumer advice to would-be-buyers. Our experience suggests that banning the film does little to deter viewers in fact it works to the contrary, adding to the notoriety of the film and encouraging illegal access to the film to people of all ages, without the benefit of rating or consumer advice.

The decision to restrict legal exhibition of MANIAC to film festivals and institutions of tertiary film studies would seem to infer that rank-and-file members of the public would be ill-equipped to deal with the horror depicted within the film. Again we reject this notion and believe it to be little more than a pompous slur on the intelligence of the adult cinema going population of New Zealand.



Despicable Censorship...

World War Z and Despicable Me 2 banned in China

Link Here25th July 2013

This week, Chinese film censors gave the green light to Sony Pictures s 3D comedy The Smurfs 2 for domestic distribution, while previously rejecting the Brad Pitt zombie thriller World War Z and the children's cartoon Despicable Me 2.

No reasons for the decisions were given, but it could be for a wider set of reasons than excessive sex or violence or whatever. Chinese film censors have previously banned films for such diverse reasons as being too upbeat, or being too competitive compared with local films.



Update: An Extremely Dangerous Joke...

Malaysian couple in dire trouble after trivial Facebook joke about pork and Ramadan

Link Here19th July 2013

Happy Breaking Fast with Bak Kut Teh (a pork dish), aromatic, tasty and appetizing

Bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee have been charged and imprisoned without bail in Malaysia after they posted a photo joke for ramadan on their Facebook page. They face up to eight years in prison.

The photo in question featured the duo eating pork stew, bah kuh teh, while greeting fasting Muslims for Ramadan. Inevitably easy offence was taken and the might of the state was invoked to exact retribution.

The couple have a bit of history of hassles as they run an erotic blog and a Youtube channel called Sexcussions with Alvivi .

Malaysian authorities have thrown the book at Tan and Lee who have been charged under:

a) Section 5 of the Film Censorship Act 2002 for publishing indecent photographs online.

b) 298A Penal Code for promoting enmity between different groups of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintaining harmony by publishing an offensive Ramadan greeting.

c) Section 4(1) (c) of the 1948 Sedition Act for posting seditious material through the offensive greeting.

Tan and Lee pleaded not guilty to the charges, but will be jailed without bail until their next court date on August 23.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said:

The insolent and impudent act by the young couple who insulted Islam showed that freedom of expression and irresponsible opinion can jeopardise the community.



Update: Script Dictators...

Chinese film censors to end script censorship of uncontroversial movies

Link Here18th July 2013

Chinese censors have announced they would relax some restrictions on film, TV and radio productions.

Chinese filmmakers will now be allowed to shoot ordinary content movies after only submitting a synopsis to censors rather than a full script, according to an announcement from the State Council, China's cabinet. But the finished products will still have to be screened for censors before they are approved to be played in theaters.

Exactly what ordinary content movies are was not clearly defined, though local reports suggested films dealing with topics such as religion, ethnic minorities, key historical episodes and crime stories would fall outside the category.



Update: Censorship Scheme...

Press censorship continuing in Burma

Link Here10th July 2013

Overruling its own Press Council, parliamentarians in Burma have passed a restrictive new press law that will restrict freedom of the press. It keeps in place many of the most draconian elements of the existing legal framework.

The Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law renews the government's power to license newspapers, news websites and foreign news agencies and has strict rules on obscenity and the incitement of public disorder. While abolishing some of the prison sentences under the old Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law (1962), the law keeps criminal sanctions as well as excessively high fines for media organisations breaching the law.

The Ministry of Information's draft law has been viewed by members of Burma's fledgling press council as an attempt to undercut their attempts to formulate a new press law. Burma's Press Council was founded by the government in October 2012 with the intention that journalists, their trade unions, media owners and civil society stakeholders should develop a new press law. After a disappointing first attempt at reform , the Press Council is currently working on a second draft of its law.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Information drafted its own press law, aimed at undercutting the more open and inclusive process undertaken by the Press Council.

Burma's upper house will now consider whether to pass the Ministry of Information's restrictive law, or consider the Press Council's proposals when they are finalised.



Censorship Scheme...

Film censorship continuing in Burma

Link Here10th July 2013

A tame love scene in local director Thiha Tin Than's latest film set off  complaints among audiences and local press, causing the movie to be sent back to the government censorship board for cutting.

Mar Yar Myar Tae Alin Kar (Scheme) was briefly screened in the country before 'uproar' among audiences over a bedroom scene.

Scheme is a domestic drama about a man who kidnaps his own wife, and the scene in question is tame by most international standards. The couple chat on a satin-sheeted bed, they kiss, they remain fully clothed and then, with a soundtrack of dramatic music, oral sex is suggested off-camera through shots of intertwined hands and clenched toes with gold sparkling nail polish. The implication was apparently too much for audiences.

It was simply a bed scene, not even sexual, says Lu Min, an actor and chairman of the Myanmar Motion Picture Association, who stared in an earlier film version of the same story without the bedroom scene ten years ago. But the less educated audience still cannot accept that, he adds.



Extract: Paradoxocracy...

A Thai director outlines the difficulties of making a film about democracy

Link Here9th July 2013

Pen-ek Ratanaruang, one of Thailand's most celebrated working directors, has often represented his country abroad at international festivals. But with his latest project, the 51-year-old director has trained his attention inward, exploring the fraught and complicated modern political history of his homeland.

Paradoxocracy begins with the 1932 Siamese Revolution, which transformed Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one, and works its way up to the present day, chronicling the country's major political revolutions, movements, and countless coups along the way.

The starting Point: Thai's are taught that democracy is a gift from a king

Pen-ek: We always went to vote, but like a lot of people, we didn't really know anything. While researching we went back to look at standard Thai textbooks and we found that very little is written about this in the education system-- just two lines in official school books about the birth of democracy in Thailand. Not only that but the textbooks suggest that King Rama 7 is actually the father of democracy -- that he gave us democracy. But, in reality, that's not the case. There was a huge revolution and fights and a struggle to win power for the people -- but we were never told that in school. We were all told that this king was so generous that he gave us democracy.

Muted by the Censor Board

Interviewer: So the film displays the ways the government required you to censor it quite boldly. The Thai dialog goes silent in several segments -- for as long as 30 seconds -- and the English subtitles are blacked out in an intentionally garish way.

Cinema tries to prevent people viewing the film it is showing

Interviewer : There have been reports that Major Cineplex, where it was shown, intentionally made it hard for people to buy tickets for the film. What was going on there?

Pen-ek: It was the first time in the history of the world, where a cinema put a film in their theaters, but tried to not sell any tickets. They lied to us and lied to people trying to attend the film. But they couldn't stop showing it, because all the media had their eyes on them. They didn't list the film on their website, they took it down from the signs. When people called to ask when it was playing they would say it wasn't showing there. Then people would call us and we'd say, no, they're lying, just go and buy a ticket at the booth. Thankfully, they would still sell you a ticket if you showed up and directly asked to buy one. They were just paranoid and afraid of political repercussions. This is the climate we live in. They panic. But it's very baseless. There were also two other cinema chains that were early allies with us, but they pulled out once they saw the rough cut.

...Read the full interview



Vulgar Accusations...

Chinese newspaper banned for sexy pictures in its celebrity news

Link Here6th July 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

The Blue Express Daily (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city, Shandong province has been banned from publishing in the next three months because it was running supposedly vulgar content, according to its editors.

The daily, which started publishing on July 17 last year, employs more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000, said Editor-in-Chief Han Hao. Han said he would be negotiating with provincial publishing authorities to bring the paper back, but he believed officials would have final say on the fate of the publication.

Han told the South China Morning Post that he believed a local competitor had gone to authorities and attacked the paper for running inappropriate pictures of pretty women, which Han said were celebrity photos that appeared in the entertainment news.

The paper published a front page letter for its final issue. Although the letter doesn't explain why the paper is being shut down, Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at the daily, cited vulgar content as a major reason that has lead to the censorship. Vulgar content , a made-up accusation, has taken down a newspaper, he wrote on Weibo. A new page in China's journalism and history has been turned.

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