Monday, February 26, 2007

My appeal letter, faxed today

Kepada:
Encik Mansor Embong
Setiausaha
Bahagian Kawalan Filem
Unit Penapisan Filem
Kementerian Dalam Negeri
Fax: 03 8889 1685

Daripada:
Amir Muhammad
Da Huang Pictures Sdn Bhd

Rujukan Tuan: 1408160001

26 Febuari 2007.


Tuan,

14 DALIL MENGAPA ‘APA KHABAR ORANG KAMPUNG’ TIDAK LAYAK DIHARAMKAN.

Saya merujuk kepada surat pihak tuan bertarikh 12 Febuari. Saya telah membaca 7 sebab untuk pengharaman filem dokumentari saya. Di sini saya ingin membuat rayuan supaya pengharaman tersebut ditarik balik. Dalil-dalil saya ialah:

1. Sebab-sebab pengharaman langsung tidak menyentuh aspek keselamatan negara sebaliknya interpretasi sejarah (dalam hanya beberapa dialog) yang bercanggah dengan versi rasmi. Saya kira hal interprerasi masih tidak merbahaya dan tidak patut menerima pengharaman, memadai dengan amaran atau potongan. Sejarah yang beku ialah sejarah yang sudah mati. Contohnya lihat saja perbezaan interpretasi mengenai Hang Tuah dan Hang Jebat dalam 50 tahun kebelakangan ini.

2. Sebab pengharaman yang terakhir ialah filem ini tidak sesuai untuk ‘masyarakat umum.’ Dengan ini saya meminta slot ‘tayangan terhad’, tertakluk kepada syarat-syarat tertentu. Contohnya filem The Passion of the Christ. Malaysia dengan bijak menghadkan filem ini kepada penonton Kristian, dan tanpa iklan. Diharap langkah bijak sebegini dapat diambil untuk filem ini juga.

3. Merujuk kepada sebab-sebab pengharaman, jelas terdapat kekeliruan yang amat dasar di antara “apa yang dikatakan oleh filem ini” dengan “apa yang dikatakan oleh sebahagian orang yang diwawancara dalam filem ini.” Dokumentari Apa Khabar Orang Kampung mengambil sikap yang objektif, tanpa menggunakan suara latar. Ia sekadar merakam satu tempat yang tak pernah dilihat oleh masyarakat tempatan yang lain. Tugas saya sebagai pengarah ialah merakam. Penonton dianggap sudah cukup bijak untuk mendengar apa yang diucapkan tanpa melatah atau mengamok; dan membuat tafsiran sendiri. Samalah seperti dialog filem fiksyen Puaka Tebing Biru di mana Nasha Aziz berkata ‘Mak tak percaya kat Tuhan ke?’ Ini hanyalah pandangan watak itu dan bukan pandangan filem itu secara keseluruhan.

4. Dokumentari ini patut diberi klasifikasi 18PA untuk unsur politiknya. Apabila warga Malaysia cukup umur 18 tahun, mereka telahpun melalui sistem sekolah rendah dan menengah yang cukup cemerlang dan sudah tahu, malah telah hafal, versi sejarah yang rasmi. Justeru itu, menonton dokumentari Apa Khabar Orang Kampung tidak akan memudaratkan mereka.

5. Filem ini boleh sahaja dimulakan oleh perkataan yang tertera di skrin, contohnya “Amaran Oleh Kerajaan Malaysia: Fahaman Komunisme Dilarang Dan Anda Ditegah Daripada Meniru Ideologi Merbahaya Ini!’ Ayat ini boleh terbit dalam saiz font yang amat besar. Ayat ini juga boleh berkelip-kelip seperti lampu neon supaya lebih jelas. Kalau tak cukup satu tanda seru boleh guna lima atau sepuluh.

6. Dokumentari ini mungkin patut diluluskan untuk orang yang telah menonton rancangan yang mendakyah anti-komunis seperti ‘Jungle Green Khaki Brown.’ Setelah disogok rancangan sebegini (yang menggunakan aksi lasak dan muzik yang menghiburkan), tidak mungkin seorang penonton itu akan terpengaruh oleh dialog orang-orang tua dalam Apa Khabar Orang Kampung.

7. Dokumentari ini mendapat tayangan perdana dunia di Festival Filem Antarabangsa Berlin, tidak jauh daripada runtuhan Tembok Berlin. Lebih 1,000 orang menontonnya. Biarpun penduduk Berlin pernah mengalami trauma akibat pertembungan Barat dengan komunisme, tidak ada penonton yang protes, pengsan atau mengamok. Kita boleh sahaja anggap Jerman sebagai negara maju, tapi bukankah Malaysia juga bercita-cita untuk menjadi negara maju dalam masa hanya 13 tahun lagi?

8. Pengharaman filem ini tampaknya bercanggah dengan beberapa prinsip yang terkandung dalam Wawasan 2020 yang menjadi pegangan kita, seperti “berjiwa bebas”, “masyarakat demokratik yang matang”, “progresif” serta “masyarakat liberal dan bertolak ansur.”

9. Filem ini besar kemungkinan akan lulus untuk tayangan di Singapura seperti Lelaki Komunis Terakhir tahun lepas. Tidakkah kita berasa sedikit kaget dan jengkel bahawa rakyat Singapura (yang berkongsi sejarah Darurat dengan kita) sudah dianggap cukup matang sedangkan kita belum?

10. Filem ini boleh juga ditayang kepada mereka yang telah membuat ikrar ‘Akujanji’ sebelum dan usai menontonnya. Ikrar ‘Akujanji’ ini boleh disamakan dengan proses yang harus dilalui oleh mahasiswa, pensyarah dan kakitangan kerajaan. Tapi kali ini mereka harus ‘berjanji’ untuk tidak sekali-kali amalkan fahaman komunisme, biarpun dalam mimpi.

11. Dalam 10 tahun kebelakangan ini, lebih ramai rakyat Malaysia dimangsai keganasan dan kerakusan Mat Rempit berbanding komunis. Namum sudah 3 filem mengenai Mat Rempit dibenarkan untuk tayangan luas di seluruh negara. Tidak adakah sentimen menghormati mangsa mereka?

12. Perang Dingin sudah berakhir pada tahun 1989 dan Malaysia sekarang menjalin hubungan yang amat baik dengan negara-negara China dan Cuba. Jadi kenapakah topik komunisme itu dianggap masih tabu?

13. Malaysia tahun ini meraikan 50 tahun sebagai negara demokrasi. Dalam satu demokrasi, kepelbagaian pendapat patut dibenar malah diraikan. Jika tidak, tidak ada bezanya dengan negara tanpa demokrasi, seperti yang pernah kita lihat di beberapa negara komunis dan teokratik.

14. Puluhan rencana telah ditulis dalam akhbar tempatan apabila Lelaki Komunis Terakhir diharamkan tahun lalu. Kita boleh saja anggap puluhan rencana ini mewakili satu minoriti yang bersedia untuk menontonnya, dan dokumentari ini juga. Justeru itu tayangan harus dibenarkan untuk minoriti ini. Jika ada yang tidak mahu menonton, mereka ada pilihan untuk tonton filem lain seperti Remp-It 2 (yang besar kemungkinan akan lulus).

Sekian. Majulah filem untuk negara.

Yang Benar,


AMIR MUHAMMAD
Pengarah Apa Khabar Orang Kampung

38 Comments:

Blogger Elle J. Hafiz said...

HI Amir,

Will it be any close-screening of your new documentary? If so, please let me know.
- jelir_da@yahoo.com

1:07 pm  
Blogger terpegun said...

Wonderful appeal. I doubt the Appeals Board will be able to see the forest or the trees. Remember that minister who said there was not enough violence in 'Lelaki Komunis Terakhir'. So I'll wait with trepidation the response to your appeal. Chins up, Amir. Your films will succeed even though not in this beloved country of ours.

4:09 pm  
Blogger DeluSion said...

This sounds more like satire than appeal letter. Anyway, it's well-written. I want to cry when I read "Dalil 10" . The people have to sign "Aku Janji" to watch a film? Where's freedom of THOUGHT?

Well-written. Let's hope for the best.

4:47 pm  
Anonymous zan said...

bugggggerrrrrrrrrrr!!!! hahahaha!!!!

6:00 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

Farish A. Noor writes about da ban.

2:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q: Why is the film banned?

A: A big lie that ALL Malays were and are feudal, rightwing, pro-colonial and pro-fascist mercenaries have been EXPOSED!

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communists' role recognised: Historian

By Hwa Yue-Yi. The Sun.

PETALING JAYA (Feb 27, 2007): The communists' role in fighting for independence has been recognised by no less than first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, a historian said.

Two former deputy prime ministers - Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and Tun Ghafar Baba - have also publicly acknowledged the contributions of the left wing movement towards nationhood, former Universiti Sains Malaysia history professor Dr Cheah Boon Kheng said today.

"Malay attitudes towards the communist movement have been changing over the years. While critical of some of their deeds, especially assasinations and acts of terrorism, many Malays now accept the fact that without their armed struggle against the British, Britain would not have readily conceded Malaya her independence in 1957," Cheah said in an e-mail interview.

He noted that the Tunku, in his 1983 memoirs Lest We Forget , had said: "Just as Indonesia was fighting a bloody battle, so were the communists of Malaya who, too, fought for independence."

Cheah noted that Ismail had also said in Amanat Tun Dr Ismail, a compilation of his speeches, that the struggle for Malaysia's independence was not only carried out by Umno, MCA and MIC leaders, but also by those in the left wing movement.

"Even PAS described the communist movement's armed struggle as a patriotic war and hailed its members Rashid Maidin and Abdullah CD as patriots and heroes (on the eve of Merdeka last year)," he said.

Cheah was responding to reports that the Censorship Board had banned Amir Muhammad's latest film Apa Khabar Orang Kampung which interviews former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) members because the film was "historically inaccurate" and tried to value the communists' struggle in Malaya.

"The (board's) reasons reflect intolerance towards alternative interpretations of historical events. Only in a totalitarian state is there only one version - the official version - of any historical event," he said.

While admitting that he has yet to watch Apa Khabar Orang Kampung, Cheah said the film's reported interviews with former CPM members did not seem to be different from those in Rashid and Abdullah's published memoirs which are available in Malaysian bookstores.

Former Utusan Melayu editor-in-chief Said Zahari, who reported on events leading to Malaysia's independence, said independence was attained through many different contributions.

"Some went into the jungle and took up arms because other avenues were closed to them. Some won and some lost, but they were all part of the common fight," he said in a phone interview.

Young theatre directors Fahmi Fadzil, Gabrielle Low, Mark Teh and Wong Tay Sy, who embarked on a two-year project to investigate the communist history and people's memories of Malaya-Malaysia, have also called for the ban to be lifted on Apa Khabar Orang Kampung and Amir's earlier banned movie, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir.

They said through their CPM project, they learnt that books on this subject were abundantly available.

"It was the personal accounts of lives during that era that required immediate attention, before these people pass away," they added in a statement.

"Our history is as varied and dynamic as this country, and for many of us, the CPM project was an encounter with a multiplicity of perspectives."

11:07 pm  
Blogger freelunch2020 said...

ke ke ke....but me suspect the sarcasm is beyond the gomen officials...they may just ask ppl to sign the 'akujanji' n put up the warning as suggested....ke ke ke....

12:44 am  
Blogger faiz dwells in nothingness said...

the ban is ridiculous. i don't understand it.

malaysians are not stupid, and we don't need the government to play big brother for us.

i hope they will reconsider. if all fails, i hope you won't give up making films. i've only seen the big durian, and it was immensely enjoyable

2:07 am  
Blogger Ahmed Razman said...

when you put several sarcasms in the letter, do you actually realised that this appeal letter is already a futile one in the first place?

when we want to ask people for something, we don't belittle them even when they are in the wrong

3:35 pm  
Blogger debdeb said...

Dear Amir,

I read your NST editorial on the effort you put into this film and I truly sympathize that your high ideals seem to be unappreciated by those who don't like the dissemination of "correct" facts. I liked point 5. =)

All the best to you!

debbie

Debbie

6:09 pm  
Blogger Shah Jihan said...

umno after all these years have been brainwashing rakyat, don't have gut to let truth out.
they fear that the rakyat will know that other people also play big contribution toward our nation

7:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Malaysians are ready to differentiate.. Hope i will have the chance to watch it .

7:50 pm  
Anonymous Kenny Mah said...

I can't believe they did it again. I was telling a friend from overseas about your film, The Last Communist - how it's won awards, critical acclaim, and all that, but no, I won't be able to watch it in my country.

It's utterly ridiculous.

9:24 pm  
Blogger yasmin said...

rais, zam, finas and the lpf are starting to depress the shit out of me!

11:42 pm  
Anonymous ian_not said...

It's so sad to see when an individual's point of view is detered by others who represent a larger community, yet after all that is said and done, the larger community can't even come out with a decent historic movie.

12:54 pm  
Anonymous amadi said...

let's nuke em!

1:44 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

Amadi, that comment is more violent than anything in 'Apa Khabar Orang Kampung'!

On a different note, an enterprising journalist found out that the Censorship Appeals board will meet next week to view the thing and decide. My presence is not required.

Hmm, not a single news report mentions that 'Apa Khabar Orang Kampung' contains a radio drama. If the radio drama were not important I would not have referenced it in the English title. In fact, you can say that the radio drama is more important than the interviews. You can say lah.

4:15 pm  
Anonymous hasilox said...

What about trying to make the most out of the ban? Try advertising it overseas as "A MOVIE BANNED IN MSIA!". Sure it helps ticket sales.

5:28 pm  
Blogger najwan halimi said...

all da best with the letter bro..!

5:42 pm  
Anonymous siew eng said...

hey, amir - can you please post your nst articles (about this, at least) here, too? for the benefit of those who, erm, forgot to read the nst...

6:00 am  
Blogger Amir said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:50 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

Just got a call from the Censorship Board asking us to deposit RM 50 for the appeal screening to take place. Just as we needed to pay RM 50 for the initial censorship procedure.

And people accuse *me* of sarcasm!

2:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duh ~ !
It's ironic ... S'pore approved the film but M'sia not ...
Looks like the history of "SEPET" is repeated again ~

9:14 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

How so?
SEPET was passed in both countries.

11:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aliran statement

1:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democracy ? Freedom of infomation ? Where ? I just don't see it ..

5:22 pm  
Blogger Martin Bradley said...

The Independent newspaper 10.03.2007

Censorship: Still a burning issue
If you want to know what defines an era, look no further than the authors, artists and activists who fell foul if it. Censorship is as old as civilisation itself - and the drive to suppress as strong today as ever. As 'The Independent' launches a major series of the greatest banned books in history, Boyd Tonkin asks whether the thought police will ever learn
Published: 22 February 2007

George Bernard Shaw once wrote that assassination is the ultimate form of censorship. That hardly counted as a joke 100 years ago. Now, it sounds like no more than a footnote to today's headlines. A month ago, the Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink died at an ultra-nationalist assassin's hands. His murder came after a sustained, high-level campaign to vilify and prosecute those writers - such as Dink, or Turkey's Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk - who dare openly to debate the Ottoman massacres of a million or more Armenians in 1915.

Just three months earlier, the author and journalist Anna Politkovskaya paid the same price, shot in the lift of her Moscow apartment block after her dogged and fearless research into the underside of Putin's regime had made her one ruthless foe too many. As for the grotesque public killing, so far unsolved, of Alexander Litvinenko in London last November: remember that the former KGB agent's chief offence, in the eyes of his Russian enemies, was to publish a book that denounced the alleged terror tactics of his ex-employers in provoking the second Chechen war. That book, Blowing Up Russia, was promptly and permanently banned in his native land.

At home, freedom of expression hardly looks in better shape. Last year, only a concerted campaign by what one minister once sneeringly called "the comics' lobby" - in fact, a very broad coalition of writers, artists, lawyers, parliamentarians and (yes) entertainers - reined in an ill-drafted catch-all law against the incitement to so-called "religious hatred". The same government that devised that measure looked on in silence as several existing laws were broken when a hooligan gang claiming to act for the Sikh community forcibly shut down the Birmingham Rep's production of Behzti (Dishonour) by the young British writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. "No one from the Home Office was prepared to defend the playwright," noted the National Theatre's director Nicholas Hytner, "even after she was threatened."

Our politicians seem to have concluded that there are no votes in artistic freedom, or even upholding the law, but many in pandering to every angry cry of "offence".

Almost two decades ago, British publishers stood firm against the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa and issued a joint paperback edition of The Satanic Verses in solidarity with Salman Rushdie. Would the same collective support take shape now? Much of the media has decided to indulge in "responsible" self-censorship that often feels not too far from cowardice. No UK publication, channel or station (save for a couple of rapidly squashed student magazines) allowed its readers or viewers to make up their own minds about the Danish cartoons of Mohamed.

In many cultures, free expression remains truly a matter of life and death, quite as risky as it ever was. So The Independent's collection of once-banned books arrives at a crucial moment. From Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, to Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn, from Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer to William Burroughs' The Naked Lunch, it brings together 25 landmark works that still have the power to disturb and to confront that led to their initial battles with authority.

Recall (just for starters) that Nabokov's "nymphet" is not around 14, as many people think, when she catches the predatory eye of Humbert Humbert. In fact, she is 12. Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange satirises the currents in modern society that give rise to the random violence of disaffected kids. At the time, some read his critique as an endorsement of thugs. Many might still do so today.

Champions of patriotic warfare will still be affronted by Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Haters of political spin and guile will be appalled by Machiavelli's The Prince. Believers in the spotless innocence of youth will be disgusted by Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story. Partisans of Castro's just and equal Cuba will be outraged by Reinaldo Arenas' Singing from the Well. Islamic patriarchs will be repelled by Taslima Nasrin's Shame. Feminist puritans will be distressed by DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover - and so, explosively, on.

"Literature", as the poet Ezra Pound put it (and his own flaky Fascist tendencies have expelled his work from many college courses over recent years), "is news that stays news". This selection of fearless and visionary works has stood the test of time. They retain the right to shock - and awe.

Some readers may indulge in a little superior scorn when they consider the bourgeois prudery that sought to suppress Madame Bovary's adulterous passion, or the apartheid-era racism that tried to crush the compassion and solidarity of Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country. But, of course, we all approve of censorship in one form or another. Modern politicians in fragile multicultural societies seek control over material that "offends" organised blocs of voters. Many liberally minded people feel glad that British laws passed over recent decades forbid inflammatory racist speech, writing and images. The casual clubland asides of a generation back can now lead straight into court - as the BNP's Nick Griffin recently found out. Fresh legislation against the "glorification" of terrorism, aimed at jihadi hotheads but couched in terms that could have ensnared 1980s supporters of the ANC, has few vocal or visible opponents. Those for whom Holocaust denial represents a uniquely vile assault on truth welcome the legal shaming of David Irving - though not, to be fair, his jailing in a hypocritical Austria.

Not even extreme libertarians will raise a finger or a voice against the extension of surveillance powers of the law-enforcement agencies who aim to eradicate child pornography via large-scale trawls such as Operation Ore. Here is a vast network of hi-tech censorship that all but violent criminals support. Overall, it seems as if everyone in Britain now agrees with the provocative US critic Stanley Fish, who in the 1990s wrote an influential anti-liberal tract entitled There's no such thing as free speech - and it's a good thing too. For Fish, as for other radicals who make common cause with conservatives, all expression takes place within a contested set of rules and constraints - psychological, verbal, social, economic. And only fantasists ignorant of history and humanity ever believe in a blank slate.

Look at the history of our current "culture wars", and you find that even the bravest standard-bearers of liberty had their blind spots when it came to censorship. John Milton's 1644 pamphlet Areopagitica remains the most forceful English blast in favour of the unsupervised freedom to publish. It claims that killing a book is as bad as killing a man, for "who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye". Note Milton's qualification, "good": the first in a long line of provisos with which free-speech champions sought to head off the menace of proscription via an appeal to moral or artistic merit. Fast-forward to 1960: the successful arguments of Penguin Books in the Lady Chatterley trial still turned on the "literary value" defence allowed by the Obscene Publications Act.

As many fair-weather libertarians do today, Milton also had a sticking-point: Roman Catholicism. Catholic propaganda, he thought, exempted itself from the protection that the state ought to offer authorship because it amounted to treason: a deep-rooted attack on the values of the nation and its culture. So, too, for many liberals now. The fascist or the racist puts himself outside the free-speech pale, and so deserves ostracism or punishment. American mainstream thinkers said the same of Communists in the McCarthy era. Now, a young Islamist radical who holds up a scrawled banner calling for the beheading of some infidel may face a charge of incitement to murder.

Only in one disputed territory - the depiction in print of sexual acts - does the early 21st-century in the West seem significantly more permissive an age than those preceding it. Even here, anomalies and arguments abound. Christian campaigners, not long ago, tried to enforce the removal of mass-market British editions of books by the Marquis de Sade. If filmed, many of Sade's more grossly sadistic scenes (which sometimes involve children) would be instantly deleted once the BBFC had taken a look. Why, protesters asked, are legislators sure that images can harm but words do not?

And even words can still run foul of British law. One maverick Manchester publisher, Savoy Books, endured a tireless 17-year campaign of legal harassment by local police and magistrates. Their onslaught culminated in the confiscation and destruction of David Britton's gruesome satirical fantasy, Lord Horror. This was the last major suppression of a British printed work for supposed obscenity, overturned only after a long process of appeal in 1992.

Besides, authoritarian societies - from the Rome of Augustus to the Cuba of Castro - have often bothered much less about escapist erotica than about literary challenges to the power of the state and the person of its leaders. George Orwell knew his history when he filled the "Airstrip One" of Nineteen Eighty-Four with cheap gin and cheap porn to pacify the proles. Trend-setters of the 1960s liked to believe in the "subversive" power of sexuality on page, screen or stage. A century earlier, they would have had a point: witness the scandal of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, and, indeed, the prosecution of Madame Bovary. In the interwar years, British law still proudly made an ass of itself by, absurdly, putting works such as Radclyffe Hall's tortured lesbian romance The Well of Loneliness in the dock.

After the Lady Chatterley trial, the floodgates formally opened - but the creative well dried up. In fast-buck mass culture, the "sexual intercourse" that began for Philip Larkin "in 1963" soon felt more like a cheap trick than a new dawn. Only among gay authors in the West did written sex hang on to its edge of danger and defiance - from Edmund White in the US and Reinaldo Arenas in Cuba to Jean Genet in France. The Old Bailey conviction of Last Exit to Brooklyn in 1967 (overturned after an appeal led by John Mortimer) surely bucked the Sixties liberal trend because of the gay and transsexual milieu of much of Selby's novel. Meanwhile, in the 1970s, James Kirkup's poem for Gay News - in which a Roman soldier erotically contemplates the crucified Jesus - brought the laws of blasphemous libel out of their ancient mothballs. That case, too, resulted in a conviction.

Reading the great banned books of other times and other climes will hardly sort out the dilemmas and contradictions that recur in the history of public speech. It might, though, help us to understand that the sands of taboo and transgression, of heresy and blasphemy, are forever shifting under our feet. Within a generation (to take just two obvious examples), Joyce's Ulysses and Lawrence's The Rainbow moved from being proscribed to being prescribed - from the magistrates' court to the seminar room. Other novels travel in the contrary direction. In 1900, Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery saga Uncle Tom's Cabin seemed to millions one of the noblest, most influential books since the Bible. By 2000, it had become a byword for patronising ignorance. Our shibboleths and scapegoats will no doubt look as bizarre to future critics as the passions of the past so often do to us.

So read these formidable literary pariahs with an eye on our age, as well as theirs. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking - but, otherwise, Cole Porter got it wrong. Heaven knows, anything definitely doesn't go these days. The prudes and persecutors have simply changed tack and chosen different ground, as they always have.

"Let there be light," say writers. In answer, the powers that be treat them not as the salt of the earth but as a law unto themselves, merely concerned with filthy lucre. All those phrases, as it happens, come from a much-censored author: from William Tyndale's magnificent English translations of the Old and New Testaments, which have left a deeper mark on everyday English speech than any other text. And what happened to Tyndale? The Catholic authorities, not content with burning his heretical work, burned him at the stake in Flanders in 1536. In cultures where the written word is banned and burned - even forbidden versions of the Bible - then living men and women will often follow. Ask the grieving family and colleagues of Hrant Dink.

Censuring the censors: writers speak out

'Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on a purpose beyond life... We should be wary therefore... how we spill the seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre.'

JOHN MILTON, 'AREOPAGITICA', 1644

'Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.'

MARK TWAIN, 'NOTEBOOK', 1896

'If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.'

NOAM CHOMSKY

'The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.'

JOHN STUART MILL, 'ON LIBERTY', 1859

'The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.'

WALT WHITMAN

'The fact is that we are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past. In the present ... we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.'

EM FORSTER, 'THE TERCENTENARY OF THE "AREOPAGITICA"', 1944

'Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, for ever.'

NADINE GORDIMER, 'CENSORSHIP AND ITS AFTERMATH", 1990

'Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.'

HEINRICH HEINE, 'ALMANSOR', 1821

'A censor pronouncing a ban, whether on an obscene spectacle or a derisive imitation, is like a man trying to stop his penis from standing up... The spectacle is ridiculous, so ridiculous that he is soon a victim not only of his unruly member but of pointing fingers, laughing voices. That is why the institution of censorship has to surround itself with secondary bans on the infringement of its dignity.'

JM COETZEE, 'GIVING OFFENCE: ESSAYS ON CENSORSHIP', 1994

'Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.'

ALFRED WHITNEY GRISWOLD, 'THE NEW YORK TIMES', 1959

'All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships'

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, ANNAJANSKA, 1919

'We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.'

VOLTAIRE, 'DICTIONNAIRE PHILOSOPHIQUE', 1764

'Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory.'

ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN, NOBEL PRIZE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH, 1972

'You can never know what your words may turn out to mean for yourself or someone else; or what the world they make will be like. Anything could happen. The problem with silence is that we know exactly what it will be like.'

HANIF KUREISHI, 'LOOSE TONGUES', 2003

'If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how then with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books should be banned.'

HERMAN MELVILLE, 'THE ENCANTADAS', 1856

'If a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.'

WOODROW WILSON, ADDRESS TO THE INSTITUTE OF FRANCE, 1919

'Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.'

SALMAN RUSHDIE, 'THE GUARDIAN', 1990

'The liberty of the press is a blessing when we are inclined to write against others, and a calamity when we find ourselves overborne by the multitude of our assailants.'

SAMUEL JOHNSON, 'THE LIVES OF THE POETS', 1781

'Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.'

THOMAS JEFFERSON, LETTER TO JAMES CURRIE, 1786

'The press is not only free, it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy.'

BENJAMIN DISRAELI

'He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.'

THOMAS PAINE, 'COMMON SENSE' 1776

'I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.'

JAMES MADISON

1:26 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

The result of the appeal will be known only on 27 March.

5:59 pm  
Anonymous fadz said...

Ini permintaan yang paling kelakau, haha, pandai kau:

11. Dalam 10 tahun kebelakangan ini, lebih ramai rakyat Malaysia dimangsai keganasan dan kerakusan Mat Rempit berbanding komunis. Namum sudah 3 filem mengenai Mat Rempit dibenarkan untuk tayangan luas di seluruh negara. Tidak adakah sentimen menghormati mangsa mereka?

Semoga lepas. Takkanlah filem ni tak boleh ditayang juga kerana mengundi dah dekat...hmm

2:06 pm  
Blogger *cosmic freak* said...

I can't wait for this one:

5. Filem ini boleh sahaja dimulakan oleh perkataan yang tertera di skrin, contohnya “Amaran Oleh Kerajaan Malaysia: Fahaman Komunisme Dilarang Dan Anda Ditegah Daripada Meniru Ideologi Merbahaya Ini!’ Ayat ini boleh terbit dalam saiz font yang amat besar. Ayat ini juga boleh berkelip-kelip seperti lampu neon supaya lebih jelas. Kalau tak cukup satu tanda seru boleh guna lima atau sepuluh.

kalau lulus kelak, saya nak tunggu yang ini keluar! hehehe ... good luck bro.

its hard enough to get you for those anecdotes project I'd like to propose, bet you're busy. takpela. heh.

5:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Amir,

Singapura pun bukan lah se"open" mana sgt...

Ade juga beberapa cerita yg di"ban" sperti cerita tentang tahanan ISA( tak ingat lak tajuk cerita tu).. tp cerita tu baru2 ni jer dibuat..dan diharam tayangan di Singapura.

Kecuali di USA atau negara2 Eropah je kot ade lebih kebebasan. kalau tak silap Passion Of Christ pun diharamkan di Singapura kan?

Good luck to you.

Cuma saya tertanya2 kenapa En Amir ni semacam minat pada hal2 Komunis (or PKM). Dan siapa yg bertanggungjawab atas keselamatan penduduk serta org2 yg En Amir interview dalam cerita2 En Amir..
Ye lah dorang dengan terbuka mencerita serta mengemuka pendapat dorang tentang kerajaan dan org2 lain spt Tunku Abd Rahman..etc.

Terima kasih

1:54 am  
Blogger Amir said...

Tokoh yang diwawancara dalam filem Singapura tersebut ialah Said Zahari, yang telah memainkan peranan besar dalam dunia kewartawanan Melayu. Saudara tak pernah dengar namanya? Dia telah menulis 2 buku mengenai pengalamannya. Bacalah :-)

4:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lagi satu nak tambah, even En Amir sendiri takut dgn comment yg nak disiarkan.. sbb tu En Amir set kan utk approval sebelum di publish..

Kalau En Amir ni seorang yg open, kenapa takut utk terus menyiarkan komen2 org lain secara terus. Kenapa perlu ada tapisan..
Terpulanglah pada org yg membaca untuk mentafsirkan.

Ironi kan..

Sebelum diri sendiri betul2 terbuka, jgn nak persoalkan kenapa org lain tak terbuka...

:)

6:07 am  
Blogger Amir said...

An irony indeed! But I only delete racist libel (including against government leaders) and commercial spam, both of which I find annoying.

And the fact that I send all my movies now to the Censorship Board does prove that I don't disbelieve in 'tapisan', no? But as a taxpayer who helps maintain these institutions, it's not only my right but my pleasure to comment on them.

This blog, on the other hand, is maintained by none other than myself.

9:34 am  
Anonymous hoshini said...

Makes you wonder what the government thinks of us, are we just a bunch of retards who would jump at the chance at an ideology because we have watched in a documentary? Makes one wonder what they are so afraid of, a few people appreciating their yesteryear heroes? sometimes i just feel that the government is turning a wee bit communist, don't you think? loved your 'Last Communist' by the way, still boggled why they banned it. good luck with 'Apa Khabar Orang Kampung', looking forward to viewing it.

8:37 pm  
Anonymous London Oriental escorts said...

London Asian Escorts is an Asian and Oriental escort agency operating inLondon, United Kingdom. The agency provides escort service for males, females and couples. All models are carefully selected and genuine.

12:46 am  
Anonymous London escorts directory - London Crumpet said...

London escorts directory London Crumpet is created to expose Independent escorts and escort agencies in London. Everybody can post their advert on this directory for FREE.

2:54 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home