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Is Malaysia Taking Censorship Too Far?

Is Malaysia Taking Censorship Too Far?

Censorship has always been a heavily debated topic among Malaysians. It’s a polarising topic with some people for it and others against it.

With the content on traditional media like the radio, TV and cinemas being regulated by the government, some Malaysians have opted for the more modern option: streaming platforms like Netflix.

Not only do you get to watch anything you want at anytime, you also have access to uncensored movies and TV series.

While the government is set to tax the streaming service by January 2020 the FINAS (the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) CEO Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri , refused to leave us alone to Netflix and chill and suggested censorship for content on the platform.

FINAS CEO Ahmad Idham. Photo credit: Bernama via Malay Mail

According to him, unmonitored content might affect the development of Malaysian children’s minds.

“Although censorship is not under FINAS’ jurisdiction, we are viewing it seriously as the contents will give negative effects if they remain unmonitored from now. We took the approach to control the local film and television content, but those from international sources remain open.”

Ahmad Idham, CEO of FINAS via Malay Mail

Naturally, netizens fired back saying that Netflix already has a parental control feature that filters out content that isn’t child-friendly.

Artwork: Megat Sharizal

As a matter of fact, this censorship issue isn’t exactly new in Malaysia. Movies containing LGBT-friendly scenes like the Freddie Mercury Biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and even the live-action Beauty And The Beast have been stripped down by our censors.

It even affected local artists like Faizal Tahir, who was penalised for taking his shirt off on stage during a live performance. 

Faizal Tahir’s controversial act during a live performance back in 2008. Photo credit:

Which brings us to the question, are we over censoring?

After having consumed content on TV, radio and in the cinema, we found that LPF (Lembaga Penapisan Filem/ The Film Censorship Board) mainly censors these elements:

  1. Nudity/sexual references
  2. Profanity (for PG-13)
  3. LGBT indications (except same-sex hugging)
  4. Excessive violence (for PG-13 content)
  5. Words/conversations that cause racial/religious disharmony. 

Then again, here’s where it gets a little tricky. Censorship by LPF is only limited to offline media, whereas when it comes to digital content, it’s up to MCMC. If the government were to impose censorship on Netflix, it should be through MCMC.

The way MCMC works is that, they won’t censor anything until a complaint is made. We’re not too sure if Ahmad Idham’s complaint counts.

MCMC censorship SOP. Diagram credit: MCMC website

However, censorship in Malaysia isn’t just limited to the stuff we watch. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

In case you’re wondering why your favourite international acts tend to skip Malaysia entirely, … It might be caused by our censorship!

In the past, artists like Beyonce and Mariah Carey have either been given a strict dress code or worse, have their concert cancelled for not being decent enough for the local audience

Mariah Carey wearing jeans and a tank top when she performed in Malaysia back in 2004. Photo credit: @TheMariahNetwork via Twitter

While we understand the need to censor PG-13 movies and TV shows, somehow, Netizens are under the impression that there’s still content that managed to slip right through the filter.

Twitter user @amalinaardy feels that some of the local TV shows, movies and literature promote very problematic themes, such as Ombak Rindu where the female protagonist marries her rapist.

Apart from that, netizens have also criticised the literature we used to study in school like Konserto Terakhir, claiming that it contains incestuous undertones where the protagonist is engaged to his cousin.

If the censorship against international content can be super strict, how did these get away? Are we over censoring or are we just selectively censoring?

What are your thoughts on Malaysian censorship? Let us know via our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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