Malaysia: Singaporean film banned due to “cultural sensitivities”

2 November 2016

Singaporean film ‘Fundamentally Happy’ has been banned by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) as it “may be sensitive to the feelings of Malaysian Malays and may be interpreted by Malaysian Malays as an attempt to reflect the community’s attitude towards those who abuse the weak to fulfil their desires”, according to the filmmakers’ statement on 20 October 2016 on the film’s Facebook page.

The film, which is based on a 2006 award-winning play, tells the story of a reunion between a young Chinese man and an elderly Malay woman who were once neighbours, which then leads to allegations of past child abuse.

Filmmakers Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin said in a statement:

We are deeply disappointed that our Malaysian audience is being denied the opportunity to watch Fundamentally Happy in the cinema. This film was based on an award-winning play that was a result of months of research and consultation with the community. The play and the film are, above all, works of social relevance and compassion. We were hoping to share this film with our audience in Malaysia so that we could have a conversation on the important issues brought up by the film.

Thiam and Bin said they are planning to appeal the decision and are trying to figure out the process and getting help to translate all the forms and regulations as they are all in Malay, reported International Business Times on 22 October 2016.

Censorship board tightening rules
The LPF has been tightening its censorship rules since 2015, including banning scenes or dialogue on television that “mock, belittle, [or] criticise the government and the country’s national sensitivities,” as well as any that “tarnish the government’s image”.

Most recently, in August 2016, the LPF cut five minutes’ worth of scenes from Indian gangster movie ‘Kabali’ and inserted a captioned moral message that crime doesn’t pay rather than the original ending in which the fate of the lead character is left unknown, since, according to LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, “there must be some kind of element of retribution in the movie”, especially if it involves crime.

Photo: Fundamentally Happy Facebook page


» International Business Times – 22 October 2016:
Singaporean film banned in Malaysia: Directors planning to appeal

» The Straits Times – 21 October 2016:
Singapore film banned in Malaysia because of cultural sensitivities

» Fundamentally Happy Facebook page – 20 October 2016:
Facebook statement

More from Freemuse

» 17 August 2016: Malaysia: Censors alter ending of Indian gangster flick, cut scenes

» 7 June 2016: Malaysia: Artist charged over caricature of prime minister

» 18 May 2016: Malaysia: Three books banned for “harming morals”

» 5 November 2015: Malaysia: Tough censorship restrictions issued

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