Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Banned Unbanned Banned ...

When things are banned, it’s pathetic. Who bans things? People who are frightened. It’s fear. So what are they frightened of? Of people writing or saying something? And why are they frightened? When someone bans something, it’s very revealing ...
says Paul Theroux in an interview with Kristina Tom in today's Star. He was referring to the Singaporean government's banning of the film of his novel Saint Jack.

The film has just been unbanned and Ben Slater who has written a book about the making of Bogdanovich's film comments:
One thing I say in the book is that Singapore has changed radically, so that was never in doubt! Censorship is still a daily reality in Singapore, but I feel that the unbanning of Saint Jack is a very crucial symbolic act - the film stands in for a past that Singapore's authorities have spent 28 years trying to eradicate, so by saying "You can watch it now", it is finally accepting that it's OK for people to reconsider those times. But the fact remains, the world of Saint Jack has disappeared. You can't go back there, but you can now take a look at the movie".
Just as one country loosens up about its past, another clamps down. Read yesterday in the Star that the Malaysian government's decision to ban Amir's The Last Communist has been made final. Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said:
It will be like allowing a film portraying Osama Bin Laden as a humble and charitable man to be screened in the United States. ... People who don’t know about Chin Peng will think what a ‘poor old man’ he is.
A plausible reason? Are Malaysian audiences so undiscerning - particularly those gullible arty-farties who go to see Amir's films? Or does this banning also speak most loudly about the insecurities of the banners?

Your comments as always greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:

The Lost Communist (13/5/06)
Too Many Amirs and Two Minutes of Fame (23/5/06)
Index: On Censorship

12 comments:

The Eternal Wanderer said...

It is arguably, definitely and most likely that the banners of LKT are afraid to face up to the past and are still insecure about their hold onto power.

It seems that these banners still seem to think that the Malaysian public will be brainwashed into thinking that Chin Peng is honourable fellow who is doing what's best for the interest of his fellows. Bull-cra, I'd say...it's already a well-established fact in the history books that much blood was shed due to Chin Peng's communist insurgency and no amount of whitewash will be able to erase that fact.

LKT is just a freaking mockumentary, in my opinion. There's certainly nothing controversial (from what I've read about the movie)about it at all. It's not going to make go out and declare my immediate allegiance to Chin Peng's much maligned cause. It's not going to make me go out there and start living in the jungles (I love my computer, cinemas and TV too much to do that!) and wage guerilla warfare with the authorities.

We're sheltered and protected long enough. The Malaysian public is beginning to grow tiresome and weary of all this molly-coddling from the government. We want to be heard, to be given the benefit of the doubt but there are still the Ancient-Minded Ones in the govt who are still living in fear of the past - and that had stopped them from developing progressively towards the future.

malaysia is no future said...

--------



http://sachatamiagroup.blogsome.com/2006/02/19/list-of-racial-discriminations-in-malaysia




----------

sympozium said...

A huge fuss made over Chin Peng and the deaths he caused during the Emergency but now Emperor Akihito is going to visit Perak and NO ONE says a word about Japanese War Crimes culpability - as the representative of an unrepentant and unapologetic nation which caused so many deaths to loyal Malayans and Brits in the Second World War, why isn't HE banned from entering the country? Remember the Sook Ching campaigns, anyone? Remember the rapes, the tortures, the live disembowelling -all this didn't just happen in Nanking but in peaceful towns all across Malaya and South East Asia.

animah said...

The Insecurity of Banners. That's a good title for a play, and make it about flags with low self esteem. That way the script will get through DBKL (or whoever the local authority is).

Banning is to protect the self entrenched and not rock the so very unsteady boat. Question is can we survive a large wave?

dreamer idiot said...

To me, the powers-that-be will awlays try to control and restrict what is and what is not permitted, especially in an asian context which also probably tells a little about the conservative nature of our societies. I kinda feel that some degree of 'control' is necessary - to an extent, because not everybody in M'sia is ready for the more 'liberal' and open flow of thoughts and ideas generally found in some 'westernn countries' (not yet at least), but really, the case of Amir's harmless film being banned is farcical, as the fear of losing face for un-banning the film made them give the silly reason of the controversy of the word 'communist'.

Art, therefore, plays a vital role in our developing society, putting up mirrors to let us see the different aspects of who we are (especially the darknest and ugly spots), questioning some of the social 'rules' and pushing the boundaries whose basis lie in the social exclusion or harm on others. (off course, this is the ideal, as art has been also used ideologically for hate as well)

Yo. said...

yes, i would think of chin peng as a 'poor old man' if i watched the film.

'schindler's list' is a bad, bad movie. so is 'zoolander' because it's blasphemous against our prime minister.

and, thanks to censorship, i don't know about sex, how to kiss or swear.


i know that the malaysian government is the best government on earth. they even help me think sometimes.

Sufian said...

I'm thinking people who are against the banning of things, themselves have things they want to ban.

The Eternal Wanderer said...

In reply to Sufian...

Well, Sufian, yes, I do want a few things to ban... such as ban poverty, ban hunger, ban war, ban the use of guns, ban smoking everywhere... so many things to ban... but one thing I am certainly against is the banning of our freedom of expression!

Sufian said...

meaning you want to ban things not agreeable to you.

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - you being contentious or what? are you in favour of banning anything?

Sufian said...

Not contentious. Curious. What's the morality of banning? Do you ban things that you don't like? Don't agree with? That you believe might be harmful? Or perhaps you don't believe in banning things? What about things like child pornography? Drugs? Smoking? Who should decide? Is it just a question of power? Unrealized assumptions? Laziness? Beliefs?

It's easy to say you don't agree with banning things, but is it so easy to say why?

bibliobibuli said...

well said ... the questions are not easy to answer and i guess each thing on the list and all besides should be debated thoroughly ... isn't this why we have a legal system? isn't his also why we should challenge when we don't hink something is right ...

now then you're a writer ... where do you think the line should be drawn for your own writing?