Ask The Government To Stop Silencing Malaysia

GET THE WORD OUT

OUR EXPRESSION IS OUR IDENTITY. 

It’s how we communicate with the world, how we learn about each other and ourselves. Expression is pleasure, it’s knowledge, it’s discovery. It’s how we share joy, grieve, heal. It’s how we seek justice and how we create the world we want.

But what happens when our ability to express ourselves is restricted? When our choices and experiences are censored? When lyrics are deleted from songs, films chopped up, stories never told, art taken down, news not printed, websites inaccessible ; when our ancestral folk dance is suddenly deemed unsuitable and the murals we paint too ‘sensitive’ to be seen? Who are we when we cannot be free – to think, to feel, to express ourselves?

Censorship silences us. It holds us back, makes us scared of ideas and people different from us, it prevents us from understanding each other.

Censorship steals our questions, our voices, our thoughts. It denies us our right to hold our leaders accountable. It enables violence and injustice to happen.

Our joy has been restricted, our stories banned, our questions erased. We’ve been silenced.

But we do not have to be.

Get unsilenced. Demand our right to freedom of expression be respected.

GET UNSILENCED

MALAYSIA, STOP

RESTRICTING FREEDOM
OF EXPRESSION

Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas without fear or interference. The right to freedom of expression is important for the personal development and dignity of every individual, and it is essential for the fulfilment of other human rights.

Ask Malaysia to repeal the following laws that restrict freedom of expression:

Sedition Act – The law most frequently used to silence dissent, the government remains committed to the Sedition Act, arguing that it protects national security, ensures public order and moral principles, and curbs defamatory acts. A person found guilty of sedition may be sentenced to three years in jail, a RM5,000 fine, or both.

Communications and Multimedia Act (Section 233) – This law regulates communications and multimedia industries, but Section 233 criminalises online content that is “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character.” The excessively vague nature of the law has allowed it to be used against everyone from musician Namewee for a YouTube video to 1MDB whistleblower website Sarawak Report.

Film Censorship Act – Possessing, circulating or screening a film that has not been approved by the government Board of Censors is a crime punishable by up to RM30,000 fine and/or three years imprisonment. While the Netflix generation can breathe easier as streaming services are not subject to this law, content shown on TV, cinemas and yes, even private screenings, must be pre-approved by the opaque censorship board.

Printing Presses and Publication Act – The act gives absolute discretion to the Minister of Home Affairs to grant and revoke licences for all print media, giving the government tremendous power over newspapers and other printed media outlets.

SHARE THE PETITION

All
FEATURED ITEMS
TV/FILM
THEATRE
EVENTS
BOOKS
VISUAL ARTS
MEDIA
MUSIC
MISCELLANEOUS
mak yong-01

KELANTAN BAN ON MAK YONG (1998 -2019)

FEATURED ITEMS

In 1998, traditional dance and performances such as menora, wayang kulit and main puteri were officially banned in Kelantan and deemed as “un-Islamic.” In 2019, the ban was lifted, but only if the performances were Syariah-compliant. Mak Yong performers were to cover their aurat, separate men and women on stage and in the audience and remove any elements of worship in the performances. Critics in civil society and arts communities voiced opposition to the religious constraints applied to the lifting of the ban.

banglasia-01

BANGLASIA 2.0

FEATURED ITEMS

Chinese Malaysian rapper Namewee is no stranger to controversy. His 2014 comedy Banglasia portrays Malaysians of different races uniting with a Bangladeshi worker to defend the country against a fictional invader. In contrary to the movie’s light-hearted tone and irreverent storyline, censors banned it, insisting the film promoted a homosexual lifestyle and “ridiculed national security issues.” Authorities pointed to 31 separate scenes it described as inappropriate, and the film was banned indefinitely. Later, after a small reshoot and seven scenes being cut, Banglasia was finally deemed acceptable by the censorship board and the ban was lifted. It was released to theatres six years after its intended debut as Banglasia 2.0 in February 2019.

denise-01

DENISE HO CONCERT

FEATURED ITEMS

Hong Kong singer Denise Ho’s Malaysian concert, part of her Dear Self, Dear World world tour, was scheduled for April 2018. However, the Cantopop icon, who is openly gay, was denied a work permit required for her performance. According to Ho in a Facebook post, the government said the rejection was due to her active role as a supporter of the LGBTI community . The official rejection letter was a little more diplomatic, saying that “a number of issues need to be addressed if the artist is brought in for the performance in this country.”

faizal tahir-01

FAIZAL TAHIR

FEATURED ITEMS

During a 2008 live performance broadcast on 8TV, rock singer Faizal Tahir removed his shirt, revealing a Superman-inspired “S” insignia. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) banned both Faizal and 8TV from any live performances for three months.

zoolander-01

ZOOLANDER

FEATURED ITEMS

Ben Stiller’s hit comedy about the male modelling industry is full of quotable lines, zany characters and a ridiculous plot, which involves the assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister. Despite the obvious humour and the fact that the fictitious prime minister survives, the 2001 film was banned from local cinemas, but has been widely seen regardless.

ahmad fuad

AHMAD FUAD OSMAN’S AT THE END OF THE DAY EVEN ART IS NOT IMPORTANT 

FEATURED ITEMS

After being on display for months, four artworks from the contemporary artist’s 2020 exhibition at the National Art Gallery was abruptly removed after a board member of the gallery complained about them. One of the pieces featured posters of Anwar Ibrahim while another was an installation depicting pigs. The artist was outraged at the censorship of the well-received show, which had been extended for a month, and following outcry from the public, the gallery restored the censored art.

wall street-01

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

TV/FILM

Though it was allegedly funded with 1MDB funds, Martin Scorsese’s 2013 dark comedy about a corrupt Wall Street trader was ironically banned in the country due to its use of profanity and portrayal of sex and drug use.

hustlers-01

HUSTLERS

TV/FILM

The 2019 US film, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, follows the real-life story of a group of strip club employees in New York who drugged and stole from their Wall Street clients in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) said that by the time it had cut the scenes, mostly for nudity, there would not be much of a movie left.

daredevil-01

DAREDEVIL

TV/FILM

Ben Affleck’s 2003 portrayal of the blind superhero was banned because authorities were concerned children would worship a hero with the word “devil” in his name.

New Village-01

THE NEW VILLAGE

TV/FILM

Director Wong Kew Lit described The New Village as an apolitical film, a love story set in a Chinese new village in colonial Malaya and the censors agreed—the Film Censorship Board approved the commercial release of the movie with no cuts in 2013. But when conservative media outlets claimed the movie promoted communism, the government walked back its approval. The New Village’s fate was unknown for several years, until in 2015, when the government confirmed that the film will not be allowed to be released. Among the reasons why: “The film also did not at all portray the violence committed by [communist] guerrillas, but depicted the violence committed by the British,” the Home Ministry said then.

muallaf-01

MUALLAF

TV/FILM

Muallaf follows the story of two Malay sisters who leave home to escape their abusive father, and later develop a close relationship with a Chinese school teacher who comes from the Christian faith. Yasmin Ahmad’s 2007 film drew substantial criticism from Islamic authorities before it was even released, when it was revealed that lead actor Sharifah Amani shaved her head for a scene in the film. Other points of conflict also ran along religious lines, including a scene where a Catholic priest likens the Muslim prayer garb to a nun’s habit. After Yasmin Ahmad’s passing in July 2009, Muallaf was approved for general release, but with certain dialogues muted.

dukun-01

DUKUN

TV/FILM

Officially banned in December 2006, director Dain Said’s horror film Dukun spent almost eleven years on the shelf before finally being screened in April 2018. The National Film Censorship Board deemed it offensive to the family members of the people involved in the case. Dukun details an investigation into the murder of a politician by a bomoh or shaman.It is believed to be based loosely on the true story of Mona Fandey, a former singer who later became a bomoh and was convicted for the murder of politician Mazlan Idris in 1993. No official reason was ever given for the film’s delayed release.

power rangers-01

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS

TV/FILM

The globally popular television show for children was taken off the air for a very simple reason: the word “morphin,” short for morphing, could be confused for morphine, the opiate.

komunis-01

LELAKI KOMUNIS TERAKHIR

TV/FILM

Despite the title, writer and filmmaker Amir Muhammad’s musical documentary is not about Chin Peng or even communism at all, but an exploration of contemporary life in the towns that the communist leader once lived in, with some odd musical numbers thrown in between scenes. Regardless, the 2006 film’s title and premise was enough to trigger a media campaign calling for the film an attempt to revive communism. Though it was approved by the Film Censorship Board, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir was subsequently banned by the Home Ministry. In 2018, an attempt was made to screen the film at an arts festival but the government did not approve.

Georgetown-01

SEX IN GEORGE TOWN CITY

THEATRE

Despite the absence of actual sex scenes, the title of Fa Abdul’s play Sex in George Town stirred the imaginations of conservative groups, who staged protests and lodged numerous police reports. The play is a collection of 10 skits touching on social issues like interracial relationships, racism and infidelity, but critics could not get past its title and promotional poster, which depicted a couple in bed together. In her apology, Fa Abdul expressed a sentiment many artists in Malaysia have probably feltthe following sentiment : “It was never my intent to offend religious or cultural sensitivities, but in the creative industry, such incidents are inevitable.” The play was ultimately allowed to proceed after a name change to Love in George Town and debuted to a sold-out show.

streetcar-01

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

THEATRE

After a newspaper review of the 1993 play criticised actor Ramona Rahman, a Muslim, who in her role as Stella, kissed a male actor, DBKL instructed producers to remove several scenes and barred close physical contact between the characters on stage. It also led to a requirement for DBKL to watch a full preview of all performances before a permit would be granted.

vagina monologue-01

VAGINA MONOLOGUES BY FIVE ARTS CENTRE (2002)

THEATRE

A Malaysian adaptation of Eve Ensler's landmark play, Vagina Monologues, premiered in Malaysia in January 2002, directed by Hari Azizan and produced by Five Arts Centre and The Actors Studio Theatre. The production played to a full house but was refused a permit from DBKL to extend the run. A letter of complaint had been sent to DBKL from a religious body in Kedah criticising the sexual nature of the play, as well as portions of it that touched on Islam

kelantan banned-01

GIRLS ABOVE 15 BANNED FROM PLAYS IN KELANTAN

THEATRE

In 1991, the Kelantan state government banned Muslim girls above the age of 15 from participating in arts and cultural performances in the state. According to then-Menteri Besar of the state Nik Aziz Nik Mat, "The inclusion of female participants in cultural peformances was un-Islamic and should be stopped."

election day-01

ELECTION DAY

THEATRE

In 2004, DBKL denied the permit to Huzir Sulaiman’s play Election Day unless it removed certain words, including “Anwar Ibrahim,” “Hidup Mahathir,” and uh, “Guardian Pharmacy.” The producers complied but cheekily pasted a glossary of the original words and their substitutions outside the theatre.

refugee-01

'REFUGEE IMAGES' BY CHIN SAN SOOI

THEATRE

The 1980 play about Vietnamese boat people was denied a performance permit by DBKL on grounds that it was "diplomatically embarrassing to the government.” Malaysia was then under criticism for its treatment of Vietnamese refugees arriving in the country. In 1986, performance permits were approved for the play and it was staged, without incident, in KL and Ipoh.

face of adversity-01

COURAGE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

EVENTS

Students at Taylor’s University were planning a LGBT public awareness campaign with the above theme in 2017 but was made to cancel following protests by conservative Islamic groups. The university issued a statement distancing itself and cancelled the event.

womens march-01

2019 WOMEN’S MARCH

EVENTS

Held in conjunction with International Women’s Day, the march included demands from ending gender-based violence to a ban on child marriages. Outrage from conservative groups, however, focused exclusively on the participation of LGBT rights activists and their allies. Disturbingly, the government, instead of defending freedom of expression, investigated the march organisers under the Sedition Act. No charges were ultimately filed, but the incident illustrated the challenges human rights activists continued to face despite a change in government. A few months prior, the government reneged on their decision to ratify the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

seksualiti merdeka-01

SEKSUALITI MERDEKA

EVENTS

The Seksualiti Merdeka festival was founded in 2008 to celebrate sexual diversity and gender rights in Malaysia. Through films, plays, seminars and workshops, the event promoted human rights and the LGBT community. With each edition, the small but vibrant event was growing, until in 2011 when police banned its associated activities and threatened to arrest anyone who defied the ban. The authorities argued that the festival “could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order,” as justification for the ban.

bersih-01

BERSIH YELLOW T-SHIRTS

EVENTS

In a brazen display of government overreach, On the eve of the Bersih 4 demonstration in 2015, then-Home Minister Zahid Hamidi used the controversial Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) to ban clothing that is yellow and which contains the words “Bersih 4.” The electoral reform group had sold about 35,000 T-shirts and raised RM2 million in funds, reflecting significant public support for its upcoming demonstration, but the ban meant that anyone producing or distributing a Bersih shirt could face a prison sentence up to three years. The public remained defiant, however, as a sea of yellow filled Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur for the three-day protest. In August 2016, the Court of Appeal quashed the Home Ministry’s order to ban Bersih T-shirts.

Palm oil propaganda-01

INVESTIGATION INTO SCHOOL FOR “ANTI-PALM OIL PROPAGANDA”

EVENTS

In July of 2019, an international school in Kuala Lumpur was rebuked by Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok for hosting a student performance on the negative impacts of the palm oil industry. The Minister was responding to a clip posted on social media of the student performance, which included primary school students dressed as orangutans giving presentations on the environmental issues surrounding unsustainable oil palm plantations. The government announced it would launch an investigation for the alleged “anti-palm oil propaganda activities,” though this was later dropped after senior school administrators apologised for the incident.

k-01 -arumugam

K ARUMUGAM'S MARCH 8 (2007, 2013)

BOOKS

Malaysia’s Home Ministry in 2007 banned the book "March 8," written by Malaysian author K. Arumugam. The book recounts clashes between ethnic Malay Muslims and ethnic Indians during the 2001 Kampung Medan riots. The book was banned under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, on grounds that it was prejudicial to national security. In 2013, the Federal Court upheld the original ban.

breaking the silence-01

BREAKING THE SILENCE

BOOKS

This 2017 book is a compilation of essays and opinion pieces on the role of Islam in Malaysia’s constitutional democracy. It was banned despite the fact that it featured a foreword by former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. The book’s publishers, G25 is, a loose collective of retired senior civil servants who were critical of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak’s leadership. The book ban led to allegations of government intolerance towards criticism. The ban was formally lifted in December 2019, after the high court ruled in favour of G25 in a judicial review case seven months prior.

where did i come from-01

“WHERE DID I COME FROM?” (2012)

BOOKS

In 2012, Peter Mayle’s sex education book for children, “Where did I come from?” was banned in accordance with the Printing Presses and Publications Act. Anyone convicted of circulating and distributing the book could be fined up to RM20,000 and jailed up to three years.

faisal tehrani-01

FAISAL TEHRANI’S BOOKS

BOOKS

Novelist Faisal Tehrani’s novels were banned under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), over allegations that they contained elements of Shia Islam, considered “deviant” by Malaysia’s Islamic authorities. These books are: “Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang”, “Karbala”, “Tiga Kali Seminggu”, “Ingin Jadi Nasrallah”, “Perempuan Nan Bercinta”, “Sinema Spiritual: Dramaturgi dan Kritikan:”, and “AKU___, MAKA AKU ADA!” In 2018, the Court of Appeal quashed the Home Ministry’s order banning four of his books. In her judgment, Justice Zaleha said the four books could not create public disorder or be a threat to security. However, it is unclear if the status of the seven books has changed under the home ministry.

ultraman-01

ULTRAMAN: THE ULTRA POWER (2014)

BOOKS

In 2014, Malaysia banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word "Allah" to describe the Japanese action hero in a translation mistake. The Home Ministry said that the Malay-edition of "Ultraman: The Ultra Power" contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals.

rebirth book

REBIRTH: REFORMASI, RESISTANCE, HOPE IN THE NEW MALAYSIA

BOOKS

This compilation of articles by various contributors reflecting on the 2018 change in government was released to little fanfare in the beginning of 2020, while the cover image allegedly disrespecting the country’s coat of arms was based on an artwork previously exhibited in 2014 at a Kuala Lumpur art gallery. Following the 2020 change in government, however, Rebirth became the target of police reports by supporters of the new administration, leading to the book being banned and seized while individuals connected it were investigated by police.
(Cover illustration reproduced)

lego-01

'LEGO BICYCLE' AND 'LEGO ROBBER' BY ERNEST ZACHAREVIC

VISUAL ARTS

Ernest Zacharevic's 2013 mural of two Lego figurines in Johor Bahru, one a robber and the other carrying a designer handbag, was painted over by the city council which did not find the depiction of the city’s high crime rate amusing.

pang khee & nisha ayub-01

PORTRAITS OF PANG KHEE TEIK AND NISHA AYUB (2018)

VISUAL ARTS

*the above is an illustration of the portraits
The 2018 George Town Festival’s commemoration of 60 years of Malaysian independence included an exhibition of several portraits representing a myriad of Malaysians. However, this illustration of the country’s diversity was quashed when the festival’s director was “directed” to remove two portraits by Islamic Affairs Minister, Mujahid Yusof Rawa. The two portraits depicted Nisha Ayub, a transgender activist, and Pang Khee Teik, founder of several gay rights organisations. Minister Mujahid later stated that the promotion of LGBTI culture was not supported in his country, and he advocated for “Malaysian pride, not gay pride.”

zunar cartoon-01

ZUNAR'S CARTOONS

VISUAL ARTS

Since 2009, Zunar’s cartoon books have often been confiscated or banned from sale, his office and printers raided and his staff harassed. The previous UMNO-led government had banned five of his cartoon books on the grounds that they were “detrimental to public order.” Until 2018, he was facing nine charges under the Sedition Act, was subject to a travel ban and faced a potential 43 years of imprisonment. His sedition charges were ultimately dropped.

clown-01

FAHMI REZA’S NAJIB CARICATURE

VISUAL ARTS

In February 2018, for making light of former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s scandals by depicting him as a clown, the Sessions Court sentenced activist artist Fahmi Reza to a month in prison and a fine of RM30,000 under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). The widely shared caricature, however, got the last laugh when the former PM was prosecuted for corruption and Fahmi’s sentence was ultimately reduced to a RM10,000 fine by the High Court in November 2018. Unfortunately for Fahmi and for freedom of expression in general, his conviction was not overturned, and the restrictive law remains on the books. Upon taking power the Harapan administration instituted a moratorium on the use of repressive laws such as Section 233 of the CMA, but it has since reversed that decision.

FD-01

THE EDGE

MEDIA

In 2015, as the public began questioning the 1MDB scandal, the government suspended the publishing permits of The Edge and its sister publication The Edge Financial Daily, which uncovered details of alleged financial misappropriation. The abrupt suspension of the leading business publication not only affected the livelihoods of hundreds of staff, but more importantly, created a chilling effect in all media outlets who dared to cover the massive scandal. The Edge later applied for a judicial review of the decision, was eventually awarded RM500,000 in compensation for the suspension, and was allowed to resume publication

sarawak report-01

SARAWAK REPORT

MEDIA

The Sarawak Report began as a whistleblower website that exposed evidence of corruption in the Sarawak state government. Founded by Clare Rewcastle-Brown and based in London, the site eventually turned its focus to the growing allegations that former Prime Minister Najib Razak received money linked to investment fund 1MDB in his personal bank accounts. The government responded by blocking access to the Sarawak Report and to Medium.com, where the site posts some of its articles. It wasn’t until 2018, following a change in government, that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that it had unblocked the site.

insider-01

THE MALAYSIAN INSDER

MEDIA

In 2016, The Malaysian Insider, a leading Malaysian news website, was blocked by the government following critical coverage of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak. Within months, the independent site was closed for good. Malaysian Insider editor Jahabar Sadiq stated that the news portal had shuttered for “commercial reasons,” as the government had for months pressured advertisers to not place ads on the website. In turn, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a statement explaining that it had breached laws under the CMA

yellow balloon-01

YELLOW BALLOONS

MEDIA

A day after the mammoth 3-day Bersih 4 demonstrations in 2015, dancer and artist Bilqis Hijjas released seven yellow balloons bearing words such as “democracy,” “free media” and “justice,” from an upper floor of a shopping mall where Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife were watching a performance. For this simple act of protest, Bilqis would spend the next three years fighting in court to clear her name—she was acquitted twice but the government insisted on appealing both decisions before finally dropping the charges in 2018.

black metal-01

HEAVY METAL

MUSIC

While the government eased restrictions on outdoor rock concerts in 1986, it continued to ban heavy metal performers. Then Culture Minister, Najib Razak branded the genre “satanic escapism.” He was reported to have said, “The velocity of such music also helps youths shed their inhibitions and do things beyond their norms and Eastern customs. Eventually, the youths will submerge themselves into the sound, become hysterical and act unbecomingly and irrationally.”

kesha-01

KESHA

MUSIC

One day before the “Tik Tok” singer was supposed to perform in Kuala Lumpu in 2013, the government denied organisers the permit for the show to go on, due to “cultural and religious sensitivities.” Despite making changes to her performance to appease authorities, Kesha’s show was not allowed to proceed.

paul's place-01

'THIS YEAR'S FINAL THREAT CONCERT', PAUL'S PLACE

MUSIC

A frenzy over “black metal” was going on in the media in 2005, featuring fabricated stories of drug-taking, sex-loving, Satan-worshipping youths. This led to a New Year’s Eve gig at KL independent music venue Paul’s Place being raided by police officers who were responding to reports of a black metal gathering. Though none of the bands were performing music of that genre, around 380 attendees were detained.

inul-01

INUL DARATISTA

MUSIC

Indonesia’s “dangdut queen” performed sold out shows in Malaysia in 2005 and 2007, but third time wasn’t the charm for her. After Indonesian Islamic authorities criticised Inul’s trademark dance moves for being too suggestive, DBKL rescinded its earlier approval for the show.

kreator-01

KREATOR

MUSIC

Hours before veteran German metal band Kreator were about to take the stage in Kuala Lumpur, DBKL claimed the venue’s license had expired, forcing the show to be called off. However, organisers blamed religious authorities for the cancellation. According to them, they were first given a verbal warning over the phone by a DBKL official after a public complaint was made over what was allegedly described as a “black metal show.”

lamb of god-01

LAMB OF GOD

MUSIC

A month after Metallica played to a sold out Stadium Merdeka, fellow metalheads Lamb of God, was denied the same welcome in 2017. JAKIM objected to the band which it described as “a ‘satanic’ band that fitted evil spirituality and anti-godliness even by the Christian community.”

megadeth-01

MEGADETH

MUSIC

Speed metal pioneers Megadeth were scheduled to play its first show in Malaysia in 2001, but it was cancelled after government censors disapproved of the band’s image and music and threatened to arrest them if they performed. Following the controversy, the band’s music was also removed from record store shelves.

erykah badu-01

ERYKAH BADU

MUSIC

By most measures, the soul/R&B singer is rarely considered a provocative performer, but after a photo of her with the word Allah temporarily tattooed on her face was mistakenly published by The Star, the government banned Badu’s 2012 show from proceeding because the body art was “an insult to Islam and a very serious offense.”

swimsuit-01

SWIMSUITS AND STRIP CLUBS

MISCELLANEOUS

Selangor Menteri Besar Harun Idris banned swimsuits at the year’s Miss Universe contest, which was held in Stadium Negara. He also announced plans to ban strip clubs, though he was quick to clarify that “we are not against artists in revealing outfits performing their dances in night clubs, to these people, dancing is an art.”

gta-01

GRAND THEFT AUTO

MISCELLANEOUS

When it came out in 2013, the fifth instalment of Rockstar Games’ notorious franchise sparked public controversy in almost all countries it was released in. Though never formally banned in Malaysia, Grand Theft Auto made it to Parliament when MP Reezal Merican Bin Naina Merican called for the game, and others like it, to be banned because of alleged anti-Islamic elements. The former deputy minister was widely criticised when he falsely claimed the game was banned in the USA and UK.

budaya kuning-01

“YELLOW CULTURE”

MISCELLANEOUS

In the 1960s, “yellow culture” was used by moral guardians to describe activities deemed to have a corrupting influence, such as striptease shows (which were tolerated then), rock ‘n’ roll music and the hula hoop. The now-defunct Malay Shorthand Association was one of many groups calling the government to take action against yellow culture, after belly dancing was featured in the Merdeka celebrations in 1962.

it gets better project-01

IT GETS BETTER PROJECT

MISCELLANEOUS

This 2010 online video project organised by Seksualiti Merdeka featured several LGBT Malaysians and allies giving positive messages to young LGBT people. One of the videos, "Saya Gay Saya Okay" featuring a gay Malay Muslim male, received over a thousand comments, many of them hateful comments and threats against him.

View More

A History of

Repression
1948
The colonial government declares a state of emergency in Malaysia to contain the growing pro-independence movement. The Sedition Act is introduced to curb growing opposition to British rule.
1960
The Malayan Emergency comes to an end, but the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which allows detention without trial for up to one year, is maintained through the introduction of the Internal Security Act (ISA).
1972
The Official Secrets Act is passed.
1975
Education Minister Mahathir Mohamad pushes for amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, barring the involvement of students in political parties and labour unions, and the union of student bodies.
1978
Member of Parliament Mark Koding was charged (and later convicted) under the Sedition Act for arguing in Parliament that vernacular schools should not be allowed.
1981
The Kelantan state government bans mak yong, a traditional dance performance, for what it claims are un-Islamic elements. It would later also ban other traditional arts including menora, wayang kulit and main puteri for the same reason.
1984
The Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA) is passed.
1987
The mass crackdown of Operation Lalang saw the arrest of over a hundred politicians and activists under the ISA. The closure of The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan newspapers leaves a lasting effect and weaken media freedom for decades to come.
1992
Information Minister Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat issues a directive banning male performers with long hair from appearing on RTM, and their songs from being played on the radio. Rock group Search was initially defiant, but ultimately cut their hair.
1994
DAP leader Lim Guan Eng sentenced to 18 months prison under the Sedition Act and the PPPA for a pamphlet criticising the government’s failure to charge an UMNO leader accused of statutory rape.
1994
Holocaust film Schindler’s List is banned.
1996
The Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project is launched, and along with it, the MSC Bill of Guarantees, which promised no censorship of the Internet.
1996
Activist Irene Fernandez is arrested and charged under the PPPA for “maliciously publishing false news,” for her organisation Tenaganita's memorandum to the government on the abuse and ill-treatment of migrant workers in detention centres. Irene would ultimately be acquitted in 2008, 13 years later.
1998
The Communications and Multimedia Act is passed into law. The MCMC is established. Section 233 of the law would become frequently used to investigate social media posts.
1998
Animated film The Prince of Egypt is banned over unspecified “religious and moral reasons.”
2001
Zoolander is banned. The comedy involves a plot to assassinate the “Prime Minister of Malaysia.”
2002
The Film Censorship Act is passed.
2002
DBKL bans a local production of The Vagina Monologues, even though it was to be the show’s second run.
2003
Police raid online media outlet Malaysiakini, crippling the organisation after seizing 19 of its computers. UMNO Youth lodged a police report over a reader’s letter comparing it with the Ku Klux Klan.
2003
DBKL forms a script vetting committee after some controversy over a performance by political satire group Instant Café Theatre, The 2nd First Annual Bolehwood Awards.
2004
DBKL denies permit to Huzir Sulaiman’s play Election Day unless it removed certain words, including “Anwar Ibrahim,” “Hidup Mahathir,” and uh, “Guardian Pharmacy.” The producers complied but cheekily pasted a glossary of the original words and their substitutions outside the theatre.
2007
Bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin Attan were sued by the New Straits Times after they alleged plagiarism by the paper’s group editor and described the paper as then-PM Abdullah Badawi’s spin doctors.
2009
Regional satellite TV channel Star World censors audio of the broadcast of the Oscars ceremony when an award recipient said the words “gay” and “lesbian.”
2011
Seksualiti Merdeka, a small, annual sexuality rights festival held since 2008, was banned by the police “to maintain public order.” The organisers unsuccessfully challenged the ban in court.
2011
The Peaceful Assembly Act is passed.
2012
Malaysian Internet sites went “dark” in protest of the introduction of Section 114A of the Evidence Act.
2014
15 people were charged under the Sedition Act and many more were investigated, one of the highest ever.
2015
One day before the fourth Bersih rally, the government banned “any yellow clothing which carried the word 'Bersih 4’,” but people were defiant and the rally attracted over 200,000 participants.
2015
Access to whistleblower website Sarawak Report was blocked by the MCMC after it exposed documents related to 1MDB. The block remained until the change in government in 2018.
2015
Business weekly The Edge was suspended for three months over its coverage of 1MDB, which the government said, “threatened public order.”
2015
A host of talk radio station BFM receives death threats over a video she posted criticising the introduction of hudud, the Islamic penal code, in Kelantan.
2016
The MCMC raids Malaysiakini’s office over a video featuring a critic of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak
2016
The MCMC blocks news outlet The Malaysian Insider, which eventually led to its demise.
2017
Lena Hendry of human rights organisation Pusat KOMAS is fined RM10,000 under the Film Censorship Act for screening No Fire Zone, a documentary about the civil war in Sri Lanka.
2017
UMNO Youth members destroy artwork and confront cartoonist Zunar at an exhibition in Penang. But it was Zunar who was arrested under the Sedition Act.
2017
Two pieces by Sabah art collective Pangrok Sulap were removed from an exhibition after complaints that its political content was too provocative.
2018
Months before the general elections, the government passed an anti-fake news law that a minister said would allow action to be taken against those spreading bad news. The law would be repealed in 2019 following a change in government.
2018
Organisers took down portraits of two LGBT activists that were part of a George Town Festival exhibition after receiving instructions from a minister.
2019
After 28 years, the Kelantan state government lifts the ban on mak yong, but only if the performances follow a set of “shariah complaint” guidelines.
2019
Police investigate organisers of the Women’s March in Kuala Lumpur under the Sedition Act.
2019
Pas Youth complain about a play Sex in George Town City, leading the producers to change the word “sex” in the title to “love.” It was later cancelled anyway.
2020
Editor in Chief of Malaysiakini, Steven Gan, was charged with contempt of court over readers’ comments that were allegedly in contempt of the judiciary.
1948
1960
1972
1975
1978
1981
1984
1987
1992
1994
1994
1996
1996
1998
1998
2001
2002
2002
2003
2003
2004
2007
2009
2011
2011
2012
2014
2015
2015
2015
2015
2016
2016
2017
2017
2017
2018
2018
2019
2019
2019
2020

LAWS RESTRICTING FOE IN MALAYSIA

Communications and
Multimedia Act (CMA)

The act largely regulates the use of communications networks and infrastructures, but Section 233 has become the default law for policing content on the Internet. The law defines the offence of improper use of network facilities, which includes content that is, “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character …” Given the impossibility of monitoring the vast amount of information on the Internet, enforcement of this law is selective and has been used against everyone from opposition politicians, activists and ordinary social media users.

Penalties: Up to RM50,000 fine or one year in prison or both. A further fine of RM1,000 a day can also be imposed if the offence is continued after conviction.

Notable case: Artist-activist Fahmi Reza was sentenced to a month’s jail and RM30,000 fine for posting his now iconic clown caricature of former Prime Minister Najib Razak. Upon appeal, it was later reduced to RM10,000.

Printing Presses &
Publications Act (PPPA)

In this era of smartphones and livestreams, the PPPA appears to be a relic of a bygone era, where government regulation of newspapers was an effective tool to control public opinion. Regardless, the law remains, leaving print media outlets vulnerable to the revocation of their publishing license, which encourages self-censorship.

Penalties: Up to three years in prison or a fine of up to RM20,000, or both.

Notable case: Though usually used to regulate newspapers, the government banned yellow coloured T-shirts with the word “Bersih” in 2015.

Sedition Act

This infamous law was originally enacted by colonial British government in 1948 to silence opposition to colonial rule but remains as a tool to clamp down on dissent more than 60 years after independence. The Sedition Act doesn’t require proof of intent and the law also gives powers for the police to arrest any person without a warrant.

Penalties: For the first offence, a fine of up to RM5,000 or three years in prison or both can be imposed, while subsequent offences can be punished by up to five years in prison. Anyone possessing what is deemed a seditious publication can face up to RM2,000 fine or imprisonment up to 18 months or both. For subsequent offences, up to three years in prison can be imposed.

Notable case: Zunar has faced many investigations for his political cartoons but it was his tweets in response to the guilty verdict in then-Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s trial in 2015 that saw him charged with nine counts of Sedition, facing up to 43 years in prison. The case was dropped in 2018 after the change in government.

Film Censorship Act

Like the PPPA, the Film Censorship Act seems like a relic from a bygone era in an age of YouTube and TikTok, but it remains a useful tool for controlling speech and popular culture. Local productions and films screened publicly remain under the control of this law, which also gives absolute power to the Minister of Communications to appoint members of the censorship board.

Penalties: Up to three years in prison or up to RM30,000 or both.

Notable case: For organising a 2013 screening of the documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields Of Sri Lanka,” Lena Hendry was ultimately fined RM10,000 after more than four years of court proceedings.

Others

The penal code defines most major criminal offences such as murder and armed robbery, but Section 298 and 298A criminalises speech that is offensive towards any religion. Its broad interpretation makes the law ripe for abuse. In 2015, a presenter on news outlet BFM was investigated over a video criticising proposed amendments to hudud law in Kelantan, while Malaysiakini was investigated in 2012 for a reader’s letter it published.

Penalties: Up to five years in prison

Notable case: Musician Namewee was investigated and held overnight for his 2018 Chinese New Year-themed music video “Like A Dog,” which featured performers wearing dog masks dancing in Putrajaya.

Presented as a democratic reform by the government in 2011, the PAA was instead met with protests, including a demonstration by the Bar Council and a walkout in Parliament by the opposition. The law imposes significant restrictions on street protests and only permitted gatherings in designated places like stadiums and public halls. A notice of 10 days (since amended to five) was also required.

Penalties: Up to RM10,000 fine.

Notable case: Then a member of the Selangor state legislature, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was not only the first person to ever be charged under the PAA, he was charged twice for the same offence, organising the massive post-elections protest in 2013, “Blackout 505.” The government charged Nik Nazmi again after the Court of Appeal declared a section of the law unconstitutional. He was eventually fined RM1,500, but successfully sued the former Attorney-General for “malicious intent.”

Although it is another Malaysian law with British roots, the OSA was only adopted in 1972, long after independent Malaysia was formed. The OSA has been used to conceal everything from sex crime statistics to the inspector-general of police’s standing orders, which details how matters like arrests are made, treatment of detainees, as well as how and when a policeman can use his weapon. The law also allows for arrests without a warrant, and shifts the burden of proof to the accused, not the prosecution.

Penalties: While it provides for life imprisonment for espionage, most offences under the OSA are punishable by up to seven years imprisonment.

Notable case: From 1997 to 2005, the air pollution index (API) was classified under the OSA. At a time when the country was facing multiple severe transboundary haze crises. Malaysians had no right to know the quality of air they were breathing in because the government was worried it would “scare away tourists.”

The 2012 law criminalises “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy,” but ironically in recent years has been mostly used against activity integral to democracy, such as protests and opposition.

Penalties: Imprisonment up to 20 years.

Notable case: In 2015, 17 protestors, almost all students, were arrested and investigated under this law following a demonstration against then Prime Minister Najib Razak outside Parliament. “Forcing someone to resign through street demonstrations is illegal,” the police said.

“Obstructing any public servant from discharging their duties,” is so broadly defined that this law has been used against those refusing to comply with the MCO or for simply questioning the conduct of authorities. For instance, in 2019, a man who confronted local council officers over the manner they were treating a stray dog was charged under this law.

Penalties: Up to two years in prison or RM10,000 fine or both.

Notable case: Lawyer Siti Kasim was charged under this law after she challenged religious authorities to produce a warrant during a 2016 raid on a fundraising dinner for transgender women.

Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public where by any person may be induced to commit an offence.

Penalties: Up to two years in prison and/or a fine of unspecified amount.

Notable case: Minister Ismail Sabri was probed under this law in 2015 after he called for Malays to boycott Chinese traders who do not reduce the prices of goods.

Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.

Penalties: Up to two years in prison and/or a fine of unspecified amount.

Notable case: Student Wong Yan Ke was charged under this law in 2019 after he protested a Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor for his involvement in the Malay Dignity Congress.

Internet users in Malaysia went “dark” in protest when the Najib administration introduced this law, which assumes a person is responsible for all content on their website, including comments on your blog or social media page. The burden of proof is placed on the accused, who has to prove they did not publish said content.

Penalties: Section 114A is not a punitive law, but rather, allows presumptions to be made in cases involving online content.

Notable case: The prosecution cited this law in the 2020 contempt of court charge against Malaysiakini, pinning the responsibility of readers’ comments on the publisher.

This obscure, administrative act received sudden attention in 2020 when a minister unwittingly claimed international news outlet Al Jazeera violated this law by filming without a licence, which he claimed applies to social media output too. The government would later backtrack, but the arbitrary using of laws to silence criticism remains a threat.

Penalties: A fine up to RM50,000 and/or up to two years in prison.

Notable case: News outlet Al Jazeera was investigated under this law after it broadcast a report on Malaysia’s treatment of migrants under COVID-19 lockdown.

This law criminalises words or behaviour that is abusive or insulting, but it has also been used against legitimate protest or criticism of public figures.

Penalties: Up to RM100 fine

Notable case: For dropping yellow balloons with words like “democracy” and “justice” onto an event attended by then-Prime Minister Najib Razak, activist Bilqis Hijjas had to endure three years of court cases before a change in government led to the prosecution to drop its repeated appeals.

Though this law, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, was repealed in 2012, it lives on in spirit in its replacement Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. The ISA was a continuation of colonial era laws introduced in 1948, and was instrumental in instilling a culture of fear and self-censorship among Malaysians.

Penalties: Individuals can be detained without trial for up to two years, but this can renewed indefinitely.

Notable case: Shamsudin Bin Sulaiman, who was allegedly a member of a militant group, was held in solitary confinement for over eight years under the ISA before he was released in 2010. He was never tried in court.

The replacement for the ISA was presented as necessary for terrorism related offences, but it has also been employed against political opponents, most notably then-Bersih chairperson Maria Chin, who was blindfolded and held in an undisclosed location.

Penalties: As with the ISA, it allows for detention without trial, and gives powers to the police to detain suspects incommunicado for the first 48 hours, denying access to lawyers and family members. The police can extend the detention up to 28 days.

Notable case: After they made police reports alleging wrongdoing in 1MDB, former UMNO leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Chang was arrested under SOSMA in 2016, but the courts ultimately rejected use of the law as it did not believe the allegations of sabotaging financial institutions to be an offence under SOSMA.

STATE OBLIGATIONS

Article 10 of the Federal Constitution: Freedom of speech, assembly and association

Article 10. (1) Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4)—

(a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) all citizens have the right to form associations.”

Malaysians are guaranteed these rights under the country’s federal constitution, the supreme law of the land. Yet, a variety of laws denying Malaysians these fundamental rights continue to exist, and the government continues to use them to silence our voices and create a climate of fear.

(Full text of the Federal Constitution here)

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

There is no established regional human rights body for Asia. However, the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) formally established the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) on 23 October 2009, during the 15th ASEAN Summit. The group also adopted a Human Rights Declaration, which guarantees freedom of expression as follows:

23. Every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information, whether orally, in writing or through any other medium of that person’s choice.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MALAYSIA’S RECOMMENDATIONS

·        Repeal the 1948 Sedition Act and repeal or amend other laws which arbitrarily restrict the right to freedom of expression, including the Communication and Multimedia Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, to ensure that they are in line with international human rights law and standards;

·        Ratify and implement in law, policy and practice the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties at the earliest opportunity;

·        Review or amend the Peaceful Assembly Act, Penal Code, and other excessively restrictive laws to allow for peaceful protests without arbitrary restrictions;

·        Facilitate the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly to all people in Malaysia, without discrimination.

CASE STUDIES

All
BLACK METAL SCARE
NEGARAKUKU
CLOWN CARICATURE
LGBT CENSORSHIP
black metal-01

BLACK METAL SCARE

It began in 2001, with sensationalist media reports of young fans of black metal music in Malaysia indulging in satanic rituals like drinking goat’s blood, tearing up the Quran and wearing T-shirts with occult symbols. In response, authorities began enforcement actions and introduced policy decisions that arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression and censored youth culture. For years, “black metal” became an excuse for authorities to clamp down on young people, sometimes for the way they dressed or for enjoying certain kind of music. In Kedah, the government boasted of detaining about 700 teenagers, mostly students. Many were strip-searched to check for tattoos, crucifixes worn upside-down or other alleged signs of “black metal,” a catch-all term used for any anti-establishment behaviour. Music by certain artists were banned from stores while radio stations were ordered to play less heavy metal music. Shows by local independent musicians were the target of raids, while foreign artists were now required to submit a video of their performance as part of their permit application.

On the eve of New Year’s Day 2006, police raided Kuala Lumpur independent music venue Paul’s Place where a several bands were scheduled to perform. Close to 400 music fans were arrested, held overnight and subjected to drug tests. The following day, music fans organised a response to the arrests. Together with human rights lawyers and NGOs, a press conference was held to dispel the police’s version of events, which were repeated by state-owned media. Owner Paul Millot was later charged with some licensing offences but they were overturned after the court determined that the police had overstepped its jurisdiction in the raid. Today black metal is no longer on the government’s radar, but the genre continues to draw reaction from religious authorities. In 2019, the Council of Churches of Malaysia successfully called for the government to stop a concert by Singapore black metal band Devouror.

negarakuku_02

NEGARAKUKU

When Wee Meng Chee, a Malaysian student in Taiwan, released this video on YouTube in 2007, turning the national anthem into a rap commentary on the country’s politics, he unleashed a flurry of angry responses back home, including threats of violence and calls for him to be stripped of his citizenship. The video was deliberated in Cabinet, in Parliament and in the media, opening up a debate on freedom of expression in the country. The discussion was short lived, however, as the Home Minister issued a gag order on all mainstream media from reporting on the issue. Wee eventually apologised for the video and removed it from YouTube, and while the police investigated him under the Sedition Act, he was never charged.

Following Negarakuku, Wee continued to assert his right to freedom of expression. His 2011 film Nasi Lemak 2.0 was approved for screening and became a box-office hit, but influential Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia said the film insulted Islam and the Malay race. In 2018 Wee was arrested and held for four days for his music video “Like A Dog,” which featured dancers wearing dog masks in Putrajaya. His 2019 film, Banglasia, was originally shot in 2013 but the Film Censorship Board objected to 31 scenes, including its sympathetic portrayal of LGBT people in Malaysia. The censors also said the film ridiculed national security forces and effectively banned it. After multiple appeals and agreeing to cut and reshoot seven scenes, a new version of the film opened in cinemas across Malaysia. Despite multiple investigations and arrests, Wee has never been charged for violating any law.

clown-01

CLOWN CARICATURE

Symbols have power, and satire can be a highly effective tool for protest. Artist and activist Fahmi Reza used both to great effect in his 2016 caricature of then Prime Minister Najib Razak, portraying the premier as a fearsome clown. The image was swiftly shared online, and in July he was charged under the Section 233A of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA), for “hurting the feelings of other people.” The artist was arrested again under the Sedition Act for selling T-shirts featuring the clown Najib image, but police did not pursue charges after questioning Fahmi. In response, Fahmi filed a legal challenge against the constitutionality of the CMA in his bid to strike out the charge against him. He sought public support for his legal defence fund and successfully raised over RM30,000 raised in less than 24 hours.

In 2017, Fahmi was granted leave by the High Court to file a legal challenge against the constitutionality of the CMA in his bid to strike out the charge against him. However, the Federal Court would later reject the bid allowing the case against Fahmi to proceed in the Sessions Court, which, in February 2018 found him guilty and sentenced him to a month's jail and RM30,000 fine. Following an appeal, the High Court commuted the punishment, setting aside the jail sentence and reducing his fine to RM10,000. However, despite the change in government and Najib’s removal from power, prosecutors in charge of the case continued to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal to seek for a stiffer punishment. Following public outcry the move to appeal was dropped, but Fahmi remains guilty of violating the CMA.

seksualiti merdeka-01

LGBT CENSORSHIP

As the crackdown against “black metal” began to wane in the late 2000s, authorities turned their focus onto the LGBT community. Though it was twice held without incident, the police preemptively banned the third instalment of the annual Seksualiti Merdeka festival, which was to be held in Kuala Lumpur in 2011. The annual sexuality rights festival featured a programme of talks, workshops, theatre and music performances and film screenings, but the police viewed it as a “deviationist activity that could destroy religious freedom, create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order.” Efforts to challenge the police’s decision to ban Seksualiti Merdeka in court were unsuccessful. In 2013, the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court decision that said the police behaved lawfully in stopping the event. The police had argued that laws in Malaysia do not recognise any deviationist activity that could destroy the practice of religious freedom; create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order; and threatened national security.

Following the Seksualiti Merdeka ban, the government and conservative groups began to actively target the LGBT community and restrict its freedom of expression. A planned concert by Lady Gaga was cancelled after the government objected to her pro-LGBT lyrics in “Born This Way,” though protests by Pas Youth could not prevent two Elton John concerts from proceeding in 2011 and 2012. A YouTube video series meant to give hope to gay Malaysians, entitled “It Gets Better,” was instead flooded with negative comments. In particular, a video where a gay Malay Muslim male said, “Saya gay, saya okay,” received violent death threats. Censors also began editing out content deemed LGBT-friendly, a practice that continues to today. In 2010, the Film Censorship Board announced guidelines that permit the depiction of LGBT characters on screen as long as they “repent” or die. In 2017, a Penang screening of LGBT-themed Vietamese film “Lost in Paradise,” was stopped by the Ministry of Home Affairs. That same year, the censors attempted to prevent Disney’s Beauty and the Beast from being screened in cinemas due to a “gay scene,” but public criticism led to the film being approved without cuts. In 2018, the government requested the removal of portraits of LGBT activists Pang Khee Teik and Nisha Ayub from an exhibition, defending its decision because, “LGBTs are still unacceptable and cannot be promoted.” 

View More

VIDEOS

USE YOUR POWER