Malaysian censorship board lays down stricter guidelines for local productions

A scene from local Malay drama 'Maid'. Complaints about a bedroom scene involving a married couple in this drama prompted the Film Censorship Board to release new guidelines. — Picture by Cinema Online
A scene from local Malay drama 'Maid'. Complaints about a bedroom scene involving a married couple in this drama prompted the Film Censorship Board to release new guidelines. — Picture by Cinema Online

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 – Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board (LPF), known in Malay as Lembaga Penapisan Filem, has issued much stricter guidelines when it comes to censoring TV contents.

Reportedly, complaints were lodged by the public to the LPF about a local Malay drama that depicted a married couple in a bedroom scene, according to The Rakyat Post. The complaints caused by said drama, “Maid”, prompted the LPF to introduce the new guidelines.

Issued on June 30, the guidelines have been making their round online. They apply mostly on local Malay productions, though any Chinese, Tamil and English productions that include a Malay cast will be subjected to the Malay productions criteria.

Some of what local TV dramas and movies will have to adhere to include:

i.              No passionate scene between men and women and members of the same sex

ii.             No passionate kissing scene (on lips/neck)

iii.            No molesting/ touching of the genitals and licking between men and women or members of the same sex scene

iv.           No rape or sexual scene (except if filmed without lighting, behind mosquito nets, or filmed using vague shadows without sexual action)

For fans of horror movies, the below guidelines for any Malay/Chinese/Tamil/English productions will be even more horrifying than any Jasons or Ju-Ons to appear onscreen:

i.              No scene showing very scary and terrifying faces of creatures/entities

ii.             No terrifying, nauseating and disgusting scenes

Meanwhile, action movies will have to think of a way to advance their plot without breaking any of the following guidelines:

i.              No scene depicting going against the law (except if the criminals face retribution)

ii.             No scene or dialogue that gives a bad image to the government (example: bribing and misuse of power)

Of course, any usage of coarse language/gestures, portrayal of men as women (unless in disguise) and display of skin/genitals/genital outlines as well as anything political will also face the chopping board.

The guidelines currently address TV contents only but it is likely that they will be extended to movies playing in cinemas too.

Local productions will face setbacks in terms of actually producing good quality script (scenes will have to suffer going against the “don’t tell, show” rule) and acting (e.g. hugging someone is a natural reaction; not doing anything natural will make the actors look wooden).

Imagine the silence in the cinema if this comedy movie (“SPY”) was heavily censored.

While currently the censorship for local productions are more severe when compared to the ones for international productions, if the LPF one day decides to cast all categories under the same umbrella, it is possible that international titles such as Hollywood and Bollywood movies will have much, much shorter runtime once all the offending scenes are left on the editing room floor.

Examples of movies that were previously not given the green light from LPF are “The Raid 2”, for its violent content, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, for its sexual content; and “The Interview”, for its political content.

Movies like “Triumph in the Skies” made it to Malaysia’s big screen, but not without two of its steamy scenes getting cut out.

If the guidelines get stricter for big screen movies, even more movies will not make it to Malaysian cinemas and the ones that do will most probably have more holes in them than a chunk of Swiss cheese. — Cinema Online