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Asia Pacific Censorship News

2014: Jan-March

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Update: Chinese internet censorship enables new opportunity for corruption...

It is one of the fundamental tenets of censorship that the censors are somehow more moral than the rest of us

Link Here 31st March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
Chinese authorities have prosecuted an Internet policeman who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media.

He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials.

It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.



Complainants Are Always Right...

New Zealand planning news laws to allow bullies to censor the internet

Link Here26th March 2014

New Zealand's biggest telecommunications company says proposed laws to clamp-down on online abuse will inevitably abused for malicious censorship.

Speaking before MPs, John Wesley-Smith from Telecom said under the proposed laws internet firms that hosted websites or social media forums would end up removing content as soon as someone complained, to avoid potential penalties. The complaints system would also effectively give censorship power to complainants who might be acting maliciously themselves. He said:

We are concerned that this will create unhealthy sensitiveness for online content hosts to remove any content that is complained about. This raises questions about censorship and freedom of speech.

For content that it did not control, such as third-party websites, the problem would be more pronounced and Telecom's only recourse would be to shut them down entirely, he said.

Telecom was speaking before the justice and electoral select committee which is considering a bill that would criminalise harmful digital communication . It would also create a new authority to consider complaints and issue take-down notices, including against internet service providers.



Update: Rumours of Repression...

China to initiate a new training programme for 2 million propaganderists and 'opinion monitors'

Link Here26th March 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

The Chinese government has revealed an expansion of internet censorship with a new training programme for the estimated two million opinion monitors Beijing organised last year.

Training will target the whole range of state workers including law enforcement, academia and state businesses.

The training course will reportedly cost 6,800 yuan ($1,108) and graduates will receive a certificate according to one of five levels -- assistant analyst, analyst, senior analyst, manager and senior manager. The test will take three hours and participants will be required to take a refresher course at a later date.

Once trained, monitors will supervise the posting of social media messages, deleting those that are deemed harmful. Beijing claims to have deployed advanced filtering technology to identify problematic posts, and will need to rapidly filter out false, harmful, incorrect, or even reactionary information, according to state press agency Xinhua.

Alongside the announcement about the training course, the government emphasised its concern over the spreading of rumours, which have recently become a euphemism for political discussion, including possible corruption of senior officials online. Those who spread rumors would be severely punished, the statement confirmed.



Update: Floods of Intolerance...

Indonesia's film censors ban Noah

Link Here25th March 2014
Indonesia's film-censorship board has banned Darren Aronofsky's upcoming movie Noah on the grounds that it showed an image of Noah who is considered to be a prophet in the religion of islam.

The censorship board defended its decision claiming that the film was against religious teachings and values. Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi, a member of the board, told the Indonesian news portal

We have our own authority. We adjust it in accordance with society's values which uphold religious and unity values. We won't just follow in the footsteps of another country.

The chairman of the censorship board said the story presented in Noah ran counter to the relevant verses in the religious book, the Koran. Mukhlis Paeni told the Indonesian news portal

There are many considerations. The first thing is the content of Noah is against our beliefs or not according to the story in the holy book.

Respected Indonesian film director Joko Anwar criticized the country's Film Censorship Board (LSF) for its narrow-minded ban:

If there is a fear that the film will cause unrest and protest from some groups then the government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition.

We don't need to get worried about a movie which they claim might corrupt religious teachings. Nowadays, with the easy access to YouTube, banning a movie is a waste of effort. Secondly, if we are talking about film, we should see it as a work of art. Art is an interpretation of the filmmaker, so it should not be banned.



Less Solid...

Metal Gears Solid: Ground Zeroes censored in Japan

Link Here22nd March 2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a 2014 Japan combat game. It is as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Hideo Kojima, in an interview with Weekly Famitsu , mentioned that thanks to the Computer Entertainment Ratings Organization (CERO) , the Japanese video game ratings board, part of the Japanese version has been censored.

That part got flagged by CERO so the production was changed that way, but in the North American version [of Ground Zeroes ] you can see everything, Kojima said when his interviewer expressed amazement of how far the content of Ground Zeroes went.

Reports mention that the missing details are from a waterboarding torture scene. other reports mention a candidate rape scene.



Moral Discrimination...

Gay HIV awareness poster in Japan gets a censorship touch-up

Link Here22nd March 2014
Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard, advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare, featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together.

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was contrary to public order and morality because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays, especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.



Chinese TV censors catch up with internet TV...

New rules to require state censorship of Internet TV

Link Here20th March 2014
New rules will require censorship approval for all streaming video. China's media censor has introduced a policy of censor first, broadcast later for local Internet companies streaming TV shows and movies, which could mean further control over online distribution of Hollywood content in China.

From now on, online companies will have to employ government-approved censors to vet content and obtain a censorship license, then monitor content before it is broadcast, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) said in a statement on its website:

Service companies broadcasting Internet audio and video programs, such as online dramas and microfilms etc, should have qualified personnel examining the content, who meet the requirements for checking and have been trained by state or provincial Internet video and audio programs industry associations.

Online companies like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Baidu have been showing TV shows such as House of Cards and Modern Family after doing their own internal censorship.



Update: Stamping Down...

Thai woman prosecuted for stepping on a picture of the king

Link Here18th March 2014
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
A Thai Criminal Court began hearing the case of a 65-year-old woman who stepped on a picture of the country's king in July 2012 and was prosecuted for violating the lese majeste law.

Thitinan was accused of defaming the King by allegedly stepping on the King's picture during a pro-establishment rally in front of the Constitutional Court in July 13, 2012. The protesters at the rally brought charges against her with the police and would testify against her in the hearing.



Update: Sanitised Soap...

Insiders reveal some the censorship rules sanitising Chinese TV dramas

Link Here16th March 2014
Full story: TV Censorship in China...TV censors SARFT
Industry insiders have disclosed some of the hidden censorship rules that restrict TV dramas and movies in China.

Taboo topics involving ghosts and home-wreckers are avoided in accordance to China's film censorship system, a recent NetEase report has revealed . China's administrative provisions on TV content restrict dramas from publicizing heresy or superstition [ie religion], a policy that industries have long struggled with, as stories involving spirits and immortals are deeply embedded in Chinese myths.

Another rule forbids plot lines that threaten social morality, for example, people who break up marriages in TV shows must never be glorified and should always end up in misery.

TV shows with plots involving children born out of wedlock are not allowed, as China's family planning policy looks down on the idea of illegitimate children. Young love and campus violence is also a big no-no, as such topics are believed to have an impact on the psychological health of minors, according to the report.



Searching for Tiananmen Square...

Google hides search terms from Chinese state snoopers via encryption

Link Here14th March 2014
China will no longer be able to block certain websites and search terms now that Google has begun encrypting searches in the country.

The move is part of Google's global expansion plan to close loopholes that allow government intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and even hackers, to see users' Internet activity. As a result, China's website censoring system won't be able to detect when users search for banned or politically charged content, such as Tiananmen Square.

Google's global encryption rollout will cripple several countries' ability , such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, to pinpoint users who are searching for banned terms or posting forbidden content. The only other recourse is to block the search site entirely.

This is the final step in the process, Peter Eckersley, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's technology projects director told ThinkProgress. Google started its quest to encrypt searches in 2010 when it allowed users to manually type in https instead of http before the Web address. It's a small change, but it's going to make it vastly more difficult for spies --- NSA, Chinese government or Iranian government --- to see what people are searching for on Google, Eckersley said.



Update: Taken for a Ride...

China bans the Rolling Stones from singing Honky Tonk Women

Link Here14th March 2014
Full story: Performers Censored in China...Quick to ban and censor star performers from the west
The lyrics for Honky Tonk Women were apparently too much for Chinese censors after the song was vetoed from the Rolling Stones' second ever show in the country.

Mick Jagger said, according to a posting on the band's official Twitter feed:

About now we'd usually play something like Honky Tonk Women ... but it's been vetoed, f

He did not give a reason.

Concert-goers confirmed Jagger's comments at the packed show.

The song describes a bar-room queen who tried to take me upstairs for a ride.



Offsite Article: Is Hong Kong's media under attack?...

Link Here12th March 2014
A brutal knife attack on veteran Hong Kong editor Kevin Lau in February has prompted an immediate public outpouring of fear about the future of press independence in China's freest city.

See article from



Update: Big Brother to Appoint Regional Little Brothers...

China is set to to decentralise the censorship of local films

Link Here11th March 2014
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
China's film censor is planning to decentralize the censorship process for local movies, granting bureaus in the provinces the power to censor films.

As it stands, filmmakers face lengthy waiting periods for approval of their movies from the Film Bureau in Beijing (SARFT), which is part of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The move is due to happen in April and is limited to local films. The censorship of imported Hollywood films, and co-productions with international firms, will remain under the control of the central Film Bureau in Beijing.

SARFT will retain responsibility for the censorship of national films, for censoring movies produced by central government and military film production companies, and the censorship of imported films and co-productions with overseas firms. It will also be responsible for reviewing the films that are censored by the provincial bureaus, responsible for handling the film release license and responsible for the censorship of the film if the film production company has some objections to the decision..



Update: Ultra-Ludicrous...

Malaysian bans a Ultraman comic book that uses the word 'Allah'

Link Here9th March 2014
Full story: Oh My God...Only muslims can use the word Allah in Malaysia
Malaysia has banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word Allah to describe the Japanese action hero.

The Home Ministry claimed in a statement that the Malay-edition of Ultraman, The Ultra Power contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals. It claimed Ultraman is idolised by many children and equating the lead character, Ultraman King, with Allah would especially confuse Muslim children and damage their faith .

The government demands that the word Allah should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and tempt them to convert. It also warned that use of the word can provoke the community and threaten public safety.

Ultraman is a fictional Japanese superhero who fights monsters and first appeared on television in the 1960s. A line in the book said Ultraman is considered and respected as Allah, or the Elder, to all ultra heroes .



Update: A Happy World...

Bloggers note effective Chinese censorship of the terrorist station attack

Link Here8th March 2014
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
After last week's knife attack on Chinese people in Kunming by muslim terrorists, in which 29 people were hacked to death, the state council information office issued the following directive:

Media that report on the knife attack incident that occurred March 1 at the Kunming railway station must strictly adhere to Xinhua News Agency wire copy or information provided by local authorities.

Do not treat the story with large headlines; do not publish grisly photos. Please respond to confirm that you have received this message. Thank you.

The censorship seems to have been effective and this was noted by Chinese microbloggers. Ye Taijin wrote:

It is as if nothing happened in Kunming. If we didn't have Weibo and WeChat, we would still be living in a happy world like the one presented on the evening new on China Central Television.



Offsite Article: K-pop booms while censorship looms...

Link Here3rd March 2014
The South Korean music style K-pop has become a success story of music export and glamour, but a long history of censorship still affects music markets nationwide

See article from




Flm about sex trafficking banned in Cambodia

Link Here23rd February 2014
3.50 is a 2013 Cambodia/Singapore crime thriller by Chhay Bora.
With Doung Cheanick, Leang Honglee and Eunice Olsen. YouTube icon IMDb

When a young Cambodian village girl is sold off into prostitution, a brash American documentary filmmaker ventures deep into the underbelly of Phnom Penh to pursue her story and rescue the girl, crossing paths with various other lives affected by the unspeakable terrain of the country's virginity trade.

The film has been banned in Cambodia. Not quite officially banned, it's just that the censors won't issue a certificate:

Filmmaker Chhay Bora, who directed the yet-to-be released 3.50 , said that the censorship board has never explained to him their grounds for evaluating movies.

It's like walking in the jungle with no road map to follow, said Bora, whose film on sex trafficking was supposed to be released last October but never received final approval. Although his script was approved, Bora said that the censorship board has failed to reach a verdict on the final version. No specific cuts have been ordered by the ministry, he said, but feedback he received suggested that censorship board members were concerned about the movie's heavy social commentary.

The Ministry of Culture film department said they didn't ban the film, but they didn't grant the licence yet, said Bora, adding that although the film's dialogue did not seem to cause controversy, the censorship board expressed concern over not less than 10 shots. Some of the criticism, Bora said, was over shots that the board claimed represented Cambodia in a bad light, such as a taxi driver throwing a cigarette out the window and a scene within the impoverished White Building community on Sothearos Boulevard.

Bora also said that other scenes were too political for the censors' comfort, such as a shot of a character walking down a dusty road with Prime Minister Hun Sen's office visible in the background.

Bora also said that the board insisted that all plot conflicts be resolved before the credits roll. In particular one of his characters, after escaping a brothel, is last seen joining a group of other former sex workers instead of trying to return home. Her ultimate fate is never revealed, but the possibility of her returning to sex work is not ruled out.

The censors said: why don't you find a solution for her, to find an NGO or new job? And I said that's not my job. The filmmaker has no possibility to solve the social problem.



Offsite Article: Chinese movies do well at the Berlin International Film Festival...

Link Here 23rd February 2014
Full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
Success speculatively attributed to a relaxing of film censorship rules

See article from



New Zealand Recommends...

Rap group Odd Future

Link Here13th February 2014
Immigration New Zealand is refusing to allow members of a controversial rap group to enter the country.

California rap group Odd Future were due to play at the Rapture hip hop concert headlined by Eminem in Auckland on Saturday, however, they have now had their visas revoked.

In a statement Immigration New Zealand said Odd Future had been deemed to be a potential threat to public order for several reasons:

Including incidents at past performances in which they have incited violence. In one instance, a police officer was hospitalised following a riot incited by Odd Future.

The group's leader Tyler the Creator is well-known for using homophobic slurs and graphic descriptions of violence against women in his lyrics.

The decision comes amid growing calls to axe the controversial rap group from a concert headlined by Eminem unless the act promises to censor their lyrics. The Human Rights Commission has today written to Auckland council saying the group should not be allowed to play on council-owned land unless they exclude explicit lyrics from their performance.



That's One Way of Putting It...

Thailand dresses up media censorship in very polite terms

Link Here23rd January 2014
Thailand's 'Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order' (CMPO) might 'invite' editors from some media outlets to instruct them to not provoke unrest through their reports, CMPO secretary Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday.

His statement comes one day after the government invoked the emergency decree in Bangkok and its surrounding areas to deal with the ongoing anti-government protests led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban. The order, which went into effect yesterday, will remain in force for two months and allows for censorship of the press.

Paradorn, meanwhile, dismissed reports that the centre will use the authority it has been granted under the emergency decree to shut down media, saying this invitation has nothing to do with gagging the press ...BUT...

We should understand that news reports should not be the source of provocation and instigation that can lead to chaos and unrest.

When asked if he would invite the BlueSky Channel, which has been broadcasting the anti-government protests, Paradorn said he had already conveyed the message and that its editors would be 'invited' if there are any inappropriate news reports.



Update: Into the Censor Infested River...

New Zealand book censors raise rating of prize winning children's book to R14 on nutter appeal

Link Here19th January 2014
Full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans

Into the River is a book by New Zealand author Ted Dawe. In September 2013 it was classified as unrestricted by the Classification Office after being submitted by the Department of Internal Affairs because of a complaint from a member of the public.

An application was made to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a review of the Classification Office's decision. The Board of Review classified the book as R14.

The novel is centred on Te Arepa Santos, a boy from a fictional village on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand/Aotearoa. He wins a scholarship to a boys' boarding school in Auckland, and the transition is difficult. He forges friendships, finds enemies, and discovers that his Maori identity is discounted and a disadvantage. He endures the bullying that comes from this, as well as that meted out to new boys, and sees what happens when that bullying goes too far. There are confusing encounters with sex and a growing understanding of intimacy, the use of drugs, peer pressure, deep racism, grief and death. Decision summary

The Film and Literature Board of Review noted in its decision that the book contains themes of bullying, underage casual and unsafe sex, drug taking and other matters that people may find offensive and upsetting. The Board considered that the book is likely to educate and inform young adults about the potentially negative consequences that can follow from involvement in casual sex, underage drinking, drug taking, crime, violence and bullying. The Board also considered that the book serves a useful social purpose in raising these issues for thought and debate and creating a context which may help young adults think more deeply about the immediate and long term consequences of choices they may be called upon to make.

However, there are scenes in the book that are powerful and disturbing, and in the opinion of the Board run a real risk of shocking and disturbing young readers. Whilst those aged 14 and above are likely to have a level of maturity that enables them to deal with this, those below the age of 14 may not.

The Film and Literature Board of Review classified the book as objectionable except if the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 14 years. The Board also requires that any further publications of the book carry the same descriptive note as the present publication, reading parental advisory explicit content .

The Board of Review decision replaces the one by the Classification Office. It is illegal for anyone, including parents and guardians, to supply Into the River to anyone under the age of 14.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who lodged the complaint about the book, said it was disappointing a restricted work was an award-winning children's book.



Update: The Art of Outrage...

China unbans Lady GaGa

Link Here17th January 2014
Full story: Lady GaGa...Winding up the nutters with sex and religion
Lady GaGa' s music is no longer banned in China. The government lifted the ban nearly three years after it said that GaGa's songs were too vulgar and put them on a "poor taste" blacklist.

Now that GaGa's music is allowed in China, her new album ARTPOP has been approved for release in the country with no cuts.



Update: Cowardly Wolves...

The Wolf of Wall Street self censored in Malaysia

Link Here16th January 2014
Full story: The Wolf of Wall Street...Banned and cut around the world
Sarawak Report has heard that movie theatres have decided it is not worth even trying to show The Wolf of Wall Street at all in cinemas in Malaysia. One movie business insider, who has made enquiries, told Sarawak Report:

I spoke with some film industry contacts in Malaysia and I'm told 'Wolf of Wall Street' was originally on the schedule for a local release, but after exhibitors saw the film, they realised there was no way they could get away with screening it in the country, due to the drugs, nudity, profanity.



Small Consolation...

China partially unbans games consoles

Link Here10th January 2014
The Chinese government has temporarily lifted a ban on selling foreign video games consoles, paving the way for firms such as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to enter a lucrative market.

China banned gaming consoles in 2000, citing a supposed adverse effect on the mental health of young people.

In a statement, the government said that it would allow foreign firms to make consoles within Shanghai's free trade zone and sell them in China after inspection by cultural departments.

Update: Rules

20th January 2013. See  article from

China has begun drafting new rules for the sale of video game consoles and games in the country, following the nation's announcement last week that its 14-year ban had been lifted .

Cai Wu, head of China's Ministry of Culture, said that the rules are being written as quickly as possible, though no specific timeline for their publication was provided.

Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China's government, won't be allowed under the rules of the free-trade zone, Cai said. We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes.

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