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Current Issues In Malaysia Essay 2015 Movies

I was waiting for the LRT one day when my eyes fixated at a peculiar billboard usually decorating the platforms. It was a movie poster promoting a local movie. A comedy/horror flick featuring all the Raja Lawak personalities, doing their best pose to tell everyone that the movie is going to be super funny. That was when I started to think about the state of our movies and TV shows in Malaysia now.

Movies filled with Ribena coloured blood effects, cheesy sound effects, and horrendous slapstick jokes that would have me cringing in shame and disbelief are flooding the cinemas, and TV shows are no better. We still follow the same ol’ template of making TV dramas; The rich falling in love with the poor, the evil rich mom who opposes the poor, the hateful ex-girlfriend who definitely sides with the evil mom to bring down the poor… RING RING..Hello? Oh, the 1980’s called, it wants its soap operas back.

As a fan of movies and TV shows I think that a breath of fresh air is what the Malaysian entertainment industry needs, DEARLY. No longer should we become the epitome of clichéd characters and cheesy comedy. I have compiled some pointers on how to somehow improve our movies and TV shows, and there are 10 of them!

1. Please Do Some Research

Time and time again we fall into what I call potholes in the highway of storyline. Rich businessmen talking about vague business projects without any explanation on what kind of business they are doing has become more stale than that kerepek you left unsealed a week ago. We should invest more on actually building a believable back story to anything we want to present to the audience.

It is good to provide some credible roots to the characters, what ‘business’ is he/she is involved in, what sickness has he/she befallen to, or why does he/she acts the way he/she does. It can be a way for the audience to fully understand and sympathize with the character they are watching. A lazy attempt on cruising over any details I noticed is by making the main character’s job a pilot, doctor, or lawyer, where details of their daily going-ons can be completely ignored to make room for sappy love story with a kampung girl.

I tell you, if I have to watch another scene where the conversation goes ‘Assalamualaikum Datuk, ape cerite projek RM3 juta kite?’ or the likes, I think I’m going to puke. Details is very important when you want to make high quality TV show, a perfect segway to my next point which is…

2. Details, Details, Details

As mentioned above, details is what drives a movie or TV show. It is what transforms a mediocre flick into a great drama series or movie. It is so unrealistic to have a lawyer’s office be so well-kept and clear from the boxes upon boxes of case files usually litter a real lawyer’s workplace. Scenes of students studying in classrooms are highly glamorized, and as far as I know, we do not have police that dresses like they are in New York, with a police badges hanging on chain around their necks.

Simple details can go a long way in establishing a believable scene in a movie. I once watched a TV drama where the main character goes to a hospital to visit his loved one, and the doctor that was attending to her looked like the janitor who happened to found a lab coat two sizes too big for him with a stethoscope in one of the pockets. He didn’t even have any lines, he only had to look worried while holding a clipboard and leave with a slight nod to the main character as he got close. Wait..maybe he WAS the janitor..DUN DUN DUUUUN!!

3. Cheap Sound Effects, Off You Go!

That DUN DUN DUUUN thing I did was to solely transition into this point. Please, pleeaase for the love of all that is good get rid of the absurd sound effect characters make when their fists makes contact with another persons face. That same sound effect can actually be traced back to the time when our beloved Bujang Lapok were practicing their Silat in its black and white glory. Bollywood movies are an exception to this because the whole charm of Bollywood movies are bad sound effects. We needn’t be copying them though.

On that note, comedy skits should dump the ridiculous sound effect of bad saturday morning cartoons already. Its like sprinkling salt on an open wound, an even worst addition to an already bad joke. Imagine Jim Carrey as The Mask, and the sounds he makes(or rather the sounds his actions makes), now use that exact sound to every comedy skits on TV and cinema, and you have yourself a typical Malaysian comedy TV show and movie.

Numerous comedy shows have excelled to become best comedy shows of all time with very little help from the sound department. Take shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation, the constant lack of background music is the perfect medium for the awkward jokes and situations. Proving that when given the characters actual funny lines, no added effect is needed. (I’m looking at you, screenwriters.)

I’m not saying sound effects should be removed altogether, it is just better to use a minimum amount, and try finding or creating new sounds that are not recycled sounds from older movies. Comedy should altogether be revamped in our local entertainment industry, another perfect segway to my next point..which is to..

4. Stop With The Comedy/Horror Genre

I am making it official, no comedy/horror movies for at least 5 years. It is just the same thing being recycled over and over again. I’ll give you an example, the main character is always the most sensible one, surrounded by quirky and somewhat dumb characters, with one (or two) leading female character(s), and the ever present bomoh. Oh yeah and there’s probably a ghost or two as well. It’s getting old and boring.

The last Malaysian comedy/horror movie I watched was ‘Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah’, which was an okay comedy movie in my opinion. It did recycled a few jokes from the ‘Zombi Kampung Pisang’ movie a bit, and had some dry and stale jokes that made me feel embarrassed for the actors. After that every other movie that came out was the same thing.

Malaysian movie and TV shows are in desperate need of turning a new leaf, especially in comedy. The horror genre is a whole other article if it were to be discussed about, so I’ll just leave it with this statement, horror movies are universally unoriginal(yes, Hollywood included). Its more of a point of reference in what creeps you out more, ‘Pontianak’, ‘Jin, ‘Saka’ etc etc. Yet comedy really needs to change for the better.

I apologise beforehand for using the same reference twice in this article, but if you look at comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation; their constant 3rd wall breaking by looking straight at the camera in perfect comedic timing makes it one of the most enjoyable ‘mockumentary’ I have watched to date. A similar show had been done by Malaysian; ‘Keluarga Iskandar’ is one of those unique shows that uses The Office and Parks and Rec’s style of comedy and made it to work.

So my advice is to think of a new way to make comedy shows or movies. Stop relying on dumb slapstick jokes and be a little more creative in terms of writing. As for all the Pontianaks and Jins, stop sticking your creepy hands into comedy and just be scary.

5. Stop With The Gangster Movies

Another bane of the local entertainment industry is the copious amount of gangster related movies. Titles like REMP-IT, KL Gangster, Abang Long Fadil, and Anak Jantan are a minuscule example of gangster movies we have in Malaysia. Why are we so fascinated by this? The culture of substituting Aku and Kau with Wa and Lu has literally dumb down our way of speaking. It just needs to stop for like..10 years. After 10 years than come out with another gangster movie if needed be.

The exaggerated shootouts, silly dialogues, bad special effects, andstereotyping Malay people as a bunch of ‘kaki gaduh’ are a huge problem in these movies. Forget about setting a bad example for kids, it had taken our action movies 20 years backwards. Action movies from our neighbour Thailand has better action, special effects and dialogue than ours. We need to just get rid of our fixation on ludicrous slangs and unrealistic looking guns and try to make a different kind of action movies.

A good way to bring new light into this genre is to paint a different picture of gangsters. Make them more charismatic, mellow, and doesn’t take the form of a bald Rosyam Nor or a gun strapped Syamsul Yusof. Take example from movies like the Godfather or American Gangster, where the gangsters are much more sophisticated, well-dressed and soft spoken. The impact of a such person to do heinous crimes is magnified because of their complete opposite appearance. Directors, screenwriters, and movie makers, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse, and if you choose not to accept that offer, let’s just say there will be a dead horse’s head under your blanket tonight. Sweet dreams.

6. Crying and Helpless Mothers? Say It Isn’t So!

A total of 3 times have I walked into my living room to see 3 different crying mothers in 3 different Malaysian TV drama, either wanting her child to come back and visit her, or being bullied by their child, or just being sad all the time for no good reason. I understand that drama needs heartfelt moments and to make your audience cry is the ultimate achievement, but please stop depicting our mothers as being a basic cry-baby. Asian mothers are universally considered to be the toughest in the world. It has escalated to a point where it is offensive to our mothers.

Sure a son not wanting to take care of his mother after leaving home for so long is a very bad thing, and the mother will sure to be heartbroken, but to have a 20 minute scene where the mother is weeping uncontrollably in the kitchen is just too much. I would love to watch a drama where the son or daughter gets a good smacking from their mothers for not respecting them, its how it should be at least.

7. A Logical Storyline Would Be Nice

Whether its a simple drama, love story, comedy, horror or action film, the storyline is very important. It captivates viewers and makes a movie enjoyable and believable. This doesn’t mean outlandish settings such as post apocalyptic or fantasy movies are automatically bad movies, it just means that any movie with any type of setting behind it will be more appreciated if it is well-constructed than one with numerous plot holes and non-sensible storytelling.

Here’s an example, in a movie produced by Mamat Khalid back in 2014, it was told that the world had come to an end after a nuclear fallout and only a handful of people survived. These survivors had made it so that they were divided into 5 different tribes, each with different ways of wearing clothes (that’s about it). Props to Mamat Khalid for trying something new, a post – apocalyptic world which Malaysian movies are not accustomed to. But it was filled with plot holes and unclear narrative, making it a huge mess of a movie. Apokalips X was the name of the movie, or as one guy from the Youtube comments of the movie’s trailer said, “it should be named Apokomerepek ni?”.

8. Study Hollywood Movies.. No Other Way Around It

Yes, there’s a hard truth for you. Hollywood has proven through the ages that they are quite the storyteller. It has become a frowned upon act to say that Hollywood is making better movies than us, it doesn’t change the fact that its true. A good movie I watched recently is a movie based on the book by Andrew Hodges, which starred the famous Brusselsprouts Cucumber..I mean Brandysnaps Cauliflower..I mean Benedict Cumberbatch..sorry about that. Jokes aside, it was really a well-constructed movie with very little to non-existent plot holes. It plays with a simple yet heavy subject, a genius well ahead of his time trying to make normal people understand his vision and way of thinking. Coupled with superb actors and you got yourselves an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Malaysian film makers needs to study harder in the arts of storytelling. They need to take into account that the most important part of the art is the story, and how it is being told. Actors, budget costs and marketing comes last. This ties up with my first and second point, which is to do extensive research on the subject you want to make a movie about, and to insert as many details as you can into it. Lazy storytelling can only result in sub par movies, no matter how handsome or pretty the actors are. Also, to research properly how a scene is pulled off by the big time Hollywood movies, instead of having crappy green screen effects that are noticeable even after editing.

9. New Actors Needed!

I would like to say beforehand that I am in no way offending any of our local actors and actresses. They are hard working people doing the thing they love and making a name for themselves, I respect them as I would any other hard working person. But there comes a time when we tend to get bored of the same actors playing 4 different rolls in movies that comes out in one year. Our actors and actresses looks like a small group of people who comes in a meeting room every week to discuss which movie they will be starring in that year. They draw straws to see who gets what job, and Aaron Aziz usually cheats. That is how I pictured it at least.

My point is that I think new blood should be introduced into this small entertainment industry we have. Open castings for movies and TV shows actually sounds like a good idea, given the lack of new actors we usually see. We could sit through painful hours of audition for singing competitions but audition for actors? it is unheard of at best. It could result in fruitful discovery of new and raw talents, and if it doesn’t, well there will always be Zizan, Nabil, and the entire cast of Raja Lawak contestants to fall back to.

10. Actors Comes Second to Film Makers

“Lazy storytelling can only result in sub par movies, no matter how handsome or pretty the actors are.” – Norman Hussaini. Apart from being an obnoxious way to point to my previous statement in this article, it is a crucial point to take into account nonetheless. Talent can come from anywhere, it might just be in a film student graduating from college tomorrow, or someone who had made numerous screenplays but never once tried to show it to anyone else.

As important it is to have new blood in the acting profession, great improvement can be made for our movies and TV shows with the help of new talents behind the scene. Directors, cinematographers, and screenwriters are all the backbone of the art of storytelling. Current film makers should put up an effort to find new diamonds in the rough that could excel our movies and TV shows to new heights. There’s an expression where it can never be too late to teach an old dog new tricks, yet in this case, it would be better to have the tricks be passed on to new dogs and see what they can do with it instead.

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Censorship is a growing issue in Malaysia as it attempts to adapt to a modern knowledge-based economy.[1] Malaysia has one of the world's strictest forms of media censorship, with nearly a hundred movies banned in this decade alone on the pretext of upholding morality. Most recently[timeframe?], a number of websites critical of the Malaysian Government had been pulled off.

In 2016, Malaysia was ranked 146th (out of 180) in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. It was also given a "Partly Free" status on the Freedom in the World report by Freedom House in 2008. On the Freedom in the World index, graded on a scale of one to seven, with one being the most free and seven being the least, Malaysia obtained four points for both political rights and civil liberties.[2]

Unlicensed use or possession of a printing press is illegal under the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984. Journalists are frequently given guidelines by the Prime Minister's Office when reporting 'sensitive' issues, and media self-censorship is encouraged.[3]

The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia is the government agency responsible for granting licenses to the films for commercial viewing.

Malaysia's film censorship guidelines were further tightened in 2003 amid rising Islamic conservatism: In addition to nudity and sex scenes being strictly censored off, kissing scenes and cleavages were also censored and many movies were banned altogether. Many movies have been banned for high impact violence and/or cruelty, which is also not allowed by Malaysia's film censorship guidelines.[citation needed] Censorship guidelines for local movie productions were only slightly eased in March 2010 to allow LGBT characters who could only portray their sexual orientation through hugging the same sex. No kissing was allowed between two men or two women.

Pornography of any kind is strictly banned in Malaysia.[4]

After the negative reactions towards the censoring of an article concerning the 2011 Bersih 2.0 rally, in mid-August 2011, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak stated that media censorship "is no longer effective" and that the government will review its current censorship laws.[5]

Despite this promise, the Malaysian government again censored reports by the BBC and Al Jazeera on the 2012 Bersih 3.0 rally.[6] Both organisations sent very strongly worded complaints to Astro Malaysia, the broadcasting company delivering the news, about the doctoring of their news reports.[7] The complaints were dismissed with Astro saying that the news agencies "did not take cognizance of the duty of Astro to comply with local content regulations".[8] The Minister of Culture and Information, Rais Yatim, went on record to say that "only the best parts of the report" were shown.[9] There were also reports of the police seizing and destroying cameras and attacking journalists who attempted to take photos of what appeared to be police brutality.[10]


Ex-Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said in 2003 that the guidelines surrounding censorship, which were drawn up in 1993, would be restudied because some of the rules "were no longer applicable". He reiterated that the main objective of the code was to build a better "Bangsa Malaysia". On the current film censorship guidelines, he said that if a scene was "too sexy", then the scene would be axed. "It's up to the Board. They watch the scene and if it's too glaring then they will cut it. If it's not pornographic in nature, then they will allow it. It is very subjective." He also said, "Today's standard of morality and spirituality must be strong because people are exposed to all sorts of challenges" and "There is a correlation between criminal offenders and sex and violence shown on screen."

The censors pay special attention to political and religious themes in films. Sex and nude scenes are strictly disallowed by the censors. Films are rated to guide Malay audiences on the nature of the content, or banned outright if the material is considered inappropriate. Any Hebrew and Yiddish-language movies and movies from Israel are not allowed to be shown in Malaysian cinemas. Rastafarianreggae is often censored, as it refers to "Zion".

Concerns have been raised over the board's political neutrality, as it is under the control of the Malaysian home office. All newspapers need an official permit to print, which must be renewed annually. The licensing system allows the government to close media outlets at will and often encourages publishers to toe the line.[citation needed]

Media controls[edit]


Main article: Malaysia Internet Blackout Day (2012)

Up till 11 June 2011 and beginning July 2014, Internet content was officially uncensored, and civil liberties assured, though on numerous occasions the government has been accused of filtering politically sensitive sites. Any act that curbs internet freedom is theoretically contrary to the Multimedia Act signed by the government of Malaysia in the 1990s. However, pervasive state controls on traditional media spill over to the Internet at times, leading to self-censorship and reports that the state investigates and harasses bloggers and cyber-dissidents.[11]

As of 28 January 2014 many political sites have been blocked by the Malaysian government. Internet users will encounter a blue and black box with "This website is not available in Malaysia as it violates the National law" announcement.[12]

The OpenNet Initiative found no evidence of Internet filtering in Malaysia in the political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools areas in May 2007.[11] and is on the Reporters Without Borders 2011 list of countries under surveillance.[13]

Prime Ministers Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak, on many occasions, have pledged that Internet access in Malaysia will not be censored and that it is up to parents to install their own censorship software and provide education to their children (provide self-censorship). The ISPs also actively deny that there are Internet filters in place when asked. However, the Communications Minister has occasionally announced that they are working on a nationwide filter, but each time such an announcement is made the Prime Minister makes a rebuttal to emphasise that there will be no Internet censorship. The state ministries of Terengganu and Kelantan have also announced that they have statewide filters in place in their respective states.

In 2006 Deputy Science and Technology Minister Kong Cho Ha announced that all Malaysian news blogs will have to be registered with the Ministry of Information. He justified this by stating the law was necessary to dissuade bloggers from promoting disorder in Malaysia's multi-ethnic society.[14]

In April 2011, Prime Minister Najib Razak repeated promises that Malaysia will never censor the Internet.[15] In 2016, the blogging platform Medium was blocked in Malaysia, after an investigative blog it hosted, Sarawak Report, covered allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Najib Razak.[16][17]

In February 2012, Malaysian authorities deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the Islamic prophet, Muhammad in a tweet.[18]

In May 2013, leading up to the 13th Malaysian General Election, there were reports of access to YouTube videos critical of the Barisan National Government and to pages of Pakatan Rakyat political leaders in Facebook being blocked. Analysis of the network traffic showed that ISPs were scanning the headers and actively blocking requests for the videos and Facebook pages.[19][unreliable source?][20]


In 2006 alone, 56 publications were banned by the Internal Security Ministry, including the Indonesian translation of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.[21]

Malaysia once banned the release of the Bible in Iban language. The translation of the word "God", i.e. "Allah Ta'ala" was deemed to be specifically for Muslim use. The ban has since been lifted.[22]

In August 2008, the Sisters in Islam (SIS), an Islamic organisation in Malaysia, was surprised to find that a book published in 2005 featuring a compilation of research papers was banned by the Home Ministry of Malaysia. SIS research and publications programme manager Masjaliza Hamzah said that activists and academics from Southeast Asia and the Middle East contributed to the book in 2003 and that it mainly focused on challenges Muslim women faced in their countries. A statement from SIS described the book: "It discussed strategies...used to curb extremism and promote women’s rights".[23]

On 27 October 1987, Operation Lalang was carried out. In this operation, two daily newspapers, The Star and Sin Chew Daily, and two weekly newspapers, The Sunday Star and Watan, were closed down for several months. They also had their publishing permits suspended temporarily. Prior to the operation, The Star was the primary English newspaper that provided news in the Opposition's point of view. This was considered treason, and during Operation Lalang, this newspaper was shut down. Most of the staff working for the four newspapers were laid off or otherwise threatened with prison and detainment, under the Internal Security Act.

In 2003, Tan SriAbdullah Ahmad, the former editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times, wrote an article criticising Saudi Arabian policies that aided the United States invasion of Iraq among other things. As a result, the Saudi government reduced the Malaysian quota for haj and in the same year Abdullah "was fired without warning by the daily’s management at the request of the ruling UMNO party following a complaint by the Saudi ambassador in Malaysia." UMNO, which holds a stake in the paper, later stated that he had jeopardised Malaysia's close relationship with Saudi Arabia.[24][25]

In June 2010, Suara Keadilan's publication was not renewed because it published a report which claimed that a government agency was bankrupt. Suara Keadilan is run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party. The Home Ministry, which overseas Malaysia's newspapers, said it was not satisfied with the paper's explanation for the allegedly inaccurate report.[26]

In July 2011, parts of The Economist's article about the 2011 Bersih 2.0 rally were found to be censored[27] by the Home Ministry on claims that the censored parts were "incorrect and misleading".[28] The move was later slammed by politicians, who called it an outdated move in a maturing society. MCA vice-president Senator Gan Ping Sieu even recommended a better approach of rebutting the claims with facts and "lodging a complaint against the publisher" and that the censoring of the printed article which is also available online would only stir public curiosity and "would only result in more people learning about the article, thus defeating the ministry's purpose of censoring it in the first place." [29]

In January 2012, eagle-eyed readers of the AFP website found that the local tabloid The Star had removed the mention of Malaysia from an article sourced from the AFP.[30] This discovery was posted to the 1 Malaysia Don't Want SKMM Block File Sharing Website page where many of the members criticised The Star for their action. Malaysia was removed from a mention of countries that practice internet censorship, reaffirming the readers that the country is indeed practising internet censorship and is trying to hide the truth from the readers of the tabloid.

In January 2014, the image of pigs were censored in the Malaysian edition of International New York Times, which was partnered with The Malaysian Reserve in the country.[31]

In March 2014, the Malay-language version of the comic book Ultraman the Ultra Power was banned in by Home Ministry, due to it referring to God as Allah, raising the ire of Malaysian netizens.[32][34][35]


Malaysia has a history of music censorship.

Music concerts[edit]

In 2003, American rock band Linkin Park was told to refrain from wearing shorts while performing[36] and in 2004, singer Mariah Carey was asked to cover up.[36][37]Madonna has been banned from Malaysian television[38] and a scheduled concert by Norwegian metal band Mayhem was banned earlier in 2006.[39] Malaysian organizers of a Pussycat Dolls concert were fined for flouting decency laws.[36]

The country's opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, urged the government to order the cancellation of a concert on 29 August 2008 by Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne. Her onstage moves were considered too provocative for Malaysia's teenage population.[40] Eventually the concert went on as scheduled; it sold over 10,000 tickets and was a critical success in Malaysia.[41] After the event, the government lifted some bans, allowing musicians to perform in Malaysia to boost tourism.

In September 2009, the Malaysian government agreed to let Muslims attend a concert by US hip-hop stars The Black Eyed Peas, reversing an earlier ban imposed because the show was sponsored by an alcoholic beverage company. The government did not give further details on the U-turn, which had caused an outcry in the Muslim-majority nation. The protest reflects growing conflicts between moderate and conservative Muslims, including many occupying positions of power in the government and judiciary, in a country that has long been considered a moderate society in the Islamic world.[citation needed]

Shows by Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé Knowles (two concerts were cancelled in 2007 and 2009, respectively) have also faced protests by conservative Muslims over immodest clothing, forcing the artists to don attire that revealed little skin. Moderate Muslims, Chinese, Indians and other non-Muslims criticised conservative Muslims, calling them "narrow-minded" in the wake of these events.

In July 2010, the Wonder Girls were allowed to return to Malaysia for MTV World Stage Live in Malaysia, along with Katy Perry, despite her songs and clothing being too "sexy" for the Malaysian teenagers. In October the same year, Adam Lambert scheduled concert in Malaysia was given the green light amid moderate protests from fundamental Muslims over controversies pertaining to his sexuality.

In February 2012, an Erykah Badu concert was cancelled because it was found that she had applied a Temporary Tattoo of the word Allah on a part of her body.[42]

In October 2013, a Kesha concert was cancelled at the 11th hour which has brought so much anger to the Malaysians. Although Ke$ha has tried to fit the rules set by the authorities but they still warned her that she will be imprisoned if she disobey the rules.


Any songs whether from local or foreign singers, may be censored if the song contains explicit lyrics or sexual references. For example, in 1989, the nation's public broadcaster, Radio Televisyen Malaysia, bans 71 songs by local artists in just three months alone. [43] RTM also no longer to play or air the song Despacito from their TV and radio stations in 2017 due for sexually-charged lyrics.[44]

Most song censoring were done by local radio stations such as Astro Radio's Hitz and Mix with stricter form of censorship and Malaysian feed of MTV Asia were delayed by 1 hour for censorship purpose. In addition, singles released to Malaysian radio stations may be different from the version released in the album due to censorship purpose.

Film and cinema[edit]

Main article: Film censorship in Malaysia


Ownership of satellite receivers other than those provided by Astro is illegal without a license (which in itself is difficult and prohibitively expensive to obtain). Owners of such receivers without a license can face confiscation of equipment as well as a hefty fine if discovered. This is enforced through tip-offs, and owners can be found out quite easily, as many of these receivers rely on dishes that are significantly bigger than those provided by Astro.

In other aspects, kissing onscreen on local television networks, whether free-to-air or pay television is prohibited, as are homosexuality, sex scenes/nudity and strong graphic violence. As well, strong language is also muted, whether on both free-to-air or pay television. For a short time in the early 2000s, images of pigs on terrestrial TV were also censored, although images of pigs are now apparently allowed, and there was no such censorship on satellite/cable TV. Although contractually, satellite networks cannot be censored in the country, Astro has censored news footage that is critical of the ruling government.[45] It is the network's duty to ensure that the feed provided to cable and satellite providers in the country is free of all banned content. Therefore, the Malaysian feed of most channels is often the one meant for conservative areas, i.e. Cambodia and Indonesia.

In 1995, Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was taken off the air because of the similarities of the word "Morphin" (a short form for "Metamorphorsizing"), to the drug Morphine.[46]

On 6 April 2012, Information Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim said in a Twitter post that there is no censorship regarding the portrayal of LGBT characters on state-owned TV channels, including the portrayal of effeminate men; however the ministry has the right of select content suitable for the Malaysian public.[47]

On 1 May 2012, the BBC strongly condemned Astro for tampering with their content on the BBC World News programme which was broadcast on 28 April 2012, the day when a rally which demanded electoral reform named "Bersih 3.0" was held in Kuala Lumpur. According to the video posted on YouTube, some short interviews with two demonstrators were removed from the news clip. On top of that, a scene which showed the riot police firing tear gas and chemical-laced water at the protestors was also censored.[48] On the next day, Astro admitted to censoring the BBC's Bersih 3.0 coverage but expressed their disappointment with the world-renowned news agency for failing to understand their intention to "comply with local rules".[49] Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera asked for an explanation from the local satellite television operator to clarify reports it had censored their coverage of the same Bersih rally.[50]

Censorship of nudity[edit]

Books, magazines and prints containing nudity (including nudity of aboriginal peoples) or government sensitive material are censored manually by shading areas in black ink. Some books are censored by removing entire pages.[51]

Pornography of any kind is strictly banned in Malaysia.[4]

Banned material[edit]


Silverfish Books in Kuala Lumpur has reported on the censorship of foreign books in Malaysia.[52] They have discovered the censorship of Czech author Milan Kundera, the banning of works by Khalil Gibran, Chinua Achebe, and Iris Chang, and the restriction of books by Rushdie and many others. They also managed to get a list of some of the restricted books from one of their distributors. The list includes literary fiction (e.g. work from Salman Rushdie, Irvine Welsh, Anthony Burgess, New Village Zine, Rebecca Wells), a fantasy novel by Robert Jordan and children’s books (e.g. SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer titles).

Among the academic titles banned for "disrupting peace and harmony" in 2006 were Mona Johulan's The Bargaining for Israel: In the Shadow of Armageddon, Mathew S Gordon's Islam, Trudie Crawford, Lifting the Veil, Bobby S Sayyid's A Fundamental Fear of Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism and Christine Mallouhi's Mini Skirts Mothers & Muslims.[53] In 2014, the Home Ministry banned the novels "Perempuan Nan Bercinta" by Faisal Tehrani (for promoting Shiism), Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (for promoting homosexuality), Jacob Appel's "The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up" (for criticising Mohammed) and three other works of fiction.[54][55][full citation needed]

Censored comics include It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken, Ultraman the Ultra Power[56] and The Best of Drawn and Quarterly.[57] Censorship of nonfiction varies; it includes academic works such as: Mao: A Life and Making Globalization Work, as well as a host of books dealing with human bodies and/or sexuality, such as The Vagina Monologues, Breastfeeding Your Baby: Revised Edition and How to Talk to Your Child About Sex.

Television shows[edit]

  • Malcolm In The Middle has been banned outright due to depictions of violent and sexual content for school-aged children along with offensive depictions of sexual anti-social behaviour.
  • Supernanny UK has been banned outright due to disgusting behaviour, heavy realistic violence, very coarse language and nudity. The U.S. version is also banned.
  • Home and Away has been banned outright due to heavy violence, sexual content, strong adult themes, cruelty and horror beyond 2011.
  • From 1989, Neighbours has been banned due to depictions of vulgar and sexual content along with offensive depictions of sexual behaviour. It was unbanned by the end of 1994, due to the availability on satellite network Astro.
  • Sydney-based news bulletins shown on both Australian advertisement networks Seven and Nine were banned due to heavy violence, language and nudity.

Among the titles that were blacklisted include:

  • "A Wedding" episode on Glee
  • "The Queen Bee" episode on Ally McBeal
  • "The One With The Video Tape" and "The One Who Says "But I'm A Cheerleader"", two Friends episodes[58]
  • South Park is banned outright due to excessive vulgar content, sexual content and offensive, high impact violence, but is now available on Comedy Central Asia through HyppTV.
  • Family Guy has been banned outright due to depictions of vulgar and sexual content along with offensive depictions of sexual behaviour. It was unbanned in 2010 due to the availability of FOX Asia through Astro, but remains heavily censored.[59] The TV series, however, can still be watched on the national airline Malaysia Airlines.

Individual words[edit]

Under subsection 48(3) and (4) of the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004, non-Muslims in Peninsular Malaysia are penalised for using the following words, or to write or publish them, in any form, version or translation in any language or for use in any publicity material in any medium: "Allah", "Firman Allah", "Ulama", "Hadith", "Ibadah", "Kaabah", "Qadhi'", "Illahi", "Wahyu", "Mubaligh", "Syariah", "Qiblat", "Haji", "Mufti", "Rasul", "Iman", "Dakwah", "Wali", "Fatwa", "Imam", "Nabi", "Sheikh", "Khutbah", "Tabligh", "Akhirat", "Azan", "Al Quran", "As Sunnah", "Auliya'", "Karamah", "Syahadah", "Baitullah", "Musolla", "Zakat Fitrah", "Hajjah", "Taqwa" and "Soleh".[60][61][62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Kent, Johnathan (26 November 2007). "Malaysia's censorship strangles growth". BBC. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  2. ^Map of Freedom in the WorldArchived 10 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Freedom House. Retrieved on 2008 – 08-03
  3. ^McAdams, Mindy (12 June 2007). "How to report a wedding". Asia Media. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. 
  4. ^ ab"Malaysia targets mobile phone sex". BBC. 2005-08-29. 
  5. ^Nik Anis, Nazwin (15 August 2011). "PM: Media censorship no longer effective". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  6. ^BBC News on Berhih 3.0-What the Government Doesn't Want You to Know. 
  7. ^Chooi, Clara (1 May 2012). "BBC flays local censors for slashing Bersih coverage". The Malaysian Insider. 
  8. ^Chooi, Clara (2 May 2012). "Astro says BBC's Bersih coverage cut to suit local rules". The Malaysian Insider. 
  9. ^Shukry, Anisha (2 May 2012). "Rais defends Astro, says 'best parts' of BBC Bersih clip shown". The Malaysian Insider. 
  10. ^Shukry, Anisha (1 May 2012). "Journalist groups call for impartial probe on police violence". 
  11. ^ abONI Country Profile: Malaysia", OpenNet Initiative, 10 May 2007
  12. ^"TMI banned on ground of 'national security'". K.L.Seet. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  13. ^Internet Enemies, Reporters Without Borders, Paris, March 2011
  14. ^Walker, Peter (5 December 2006). "Malaysia's mission unbloggable". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  15. ^Chooi, Clara (24 April 2011). "Najib repeats promise of no Internet censorship". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  16. ^"Malaysia blocks 'Medium' blogging platform over Sarawak Report article". asiancorrespondent.com. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  17. ^"Blogging platform hosting Sarawak Report refuses to take down article on Najib - The Malaysian Insider". www.themalaysianinsider.com. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  18. ^"Malaysia deports Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari". BBC News. 12 February 2012. 
  19. ^GE13 Censorship of Online Media in Malaysia[unreliable source?]
  20. ^"China Style censorship blocking KiniTV videos". Malaysia Kini. 2 May 2013. (subscription required)
  21. ^2006 List of banned publicationsArchived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. Malaysian Ministry of Internal Security.
  22. ^Bible Networks. Malaysia's ban on Iban Bible liftedArchived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 15 April 2008.
  23. ^"SIS surprised by ban on 2005 book". The Star. The Star. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  24. ^"New Straits Times chief editor sacked". 22 November 2003. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  25. ^"New Straits Times editor in chief fired as a result of Saudi pressure". Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders. 24 November 2003. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  26. ^"Malaysia suspends main opposition newspaper". 3 July 2010. 
  27. ^"Censored: Magazine's story on July 9 rally". 19 July 2011. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  28. ^"Home Ministry: Parts of Economist article blacked out were incorrect, misleading". The Star (Malaysia). 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  29. ^"Politicians slam censorship of Economist on Bersih rally". The Star (Malaysia). 21 July 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  30. ^Facebook- Wall Photos- comparison of AFP article and The Star reprint of article
  31. ^Sithraputhran, Siva (22 January 2014). "Pig faces blacked-out in Malaysian edition of New York Times". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  32. ^"Ultraman comic falls to Home Ministry ban | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online". themalaymailonline.com. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  33. ^"Home Ministry bans publication of 'Ultraman The Ultra Power' over usage of "Allah" - Nation | The Star Online". thestar.com.my. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  34. ^"Ultraman ban raises flak | Free Malaysia Today". freemalaysiatoday.com. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  35. ^ abcBBC News Online. Indecency fine for Pussycat Dolls. Retrieved on 2008 – 01-19.
  36. ^BBC News Online. Mariah upsets Malaysian Muslims. Retrieved on 19 January 2008.
  37. ^Freemuse. American music performance banned from television. Retrieved on 19 January 2008
  38. ^Metal Underground. Mayhem Banned From Malaysia. Retrieved on 19 January 2008
  39. ^Zappei, Julia (18 August 2008). "Malaysian group wants Lavigne concert cancelled". Toronto: The Star. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  40. ^"Lavigne still plans to rock Malaysia". The Star. Torstar. 22 August 2008. pp. E2. Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  41. ^"Erykah Badu's Malaysia concert cancelled because of 'Insult to Islam' body art". International Business Times. 29 February 2012. 
  42. ^"Lagu-lagu yang diharamkan oleh RTM (1989)". 6 December 2011. 
  43. ^"Ministry bans Despacito from RTM airwaves". Minderjeet Kaur. 19 July 2017. 
  44. ^"Yes, We Doctored The News – We Are "Disappointed" At Criticism From The BBC! ASTRO EXCLUSIVE!". Sarawak Report. 1 May 2012. 
  45. ^http://nextshark.com/malaysia-might-ban-new-power-rangers-movie-openly-gay-character/
  46. ^"Rais Says No Ban On LGBT Characters On Government TV Channels". Bernama. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  47. ^"Astro censored BBC News". The Malaysian Insider. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  48. ^"Astro says censor to comply local rules". The Malaysian Insider. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  49. ^"BBC, Al-Jazeera decry alleged Malaysia censorship". The Straits Times, Singapore. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  50. ^"Sweet Satsuma, Sour Censorship". Macvaysia. 26 August 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  51. ^"Books Restricted by KND Johor Bahru – List 1". Silverfish Books. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  52. ^"Malaysia: 18 Books banned for disrupting peace and harmony", Article 19, 10 July 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  53. ^
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