During my 20 over years in the censorship board, I’ve never faced so many attacks coming in.

In the good old days, when films were banned, no one will make noise. Why? Because when something is banned, it isn’t heavily publicised. It was discreet. Just like when we banned Schindler’s List. A decision I’m still proud of.

Nowadays with social media, people start to drill in questions as to our decisions to censor. So irritating lah. I wish I could just respond and silence them by outlining the ciri-ciri as to what gets censored. But I find 140 characters so complicated… it’s not easy being a censor you know.

Okaylah, as a pegawai kerajaan there’s a lot of security. A lot of teh tarik sessions as well, at 9.30 am and 3.00 pm. But people don’t understand our contributions. So I want to clarify the misconceptions. I’m sure my rakan-rakan at the Kementerian Penerangan would understand my outspokenness.

People seem to think that as a censor, my job is just sitting down and watching films in the dark all day long. I arbitrarily decide what others can or cannot watch. I get paid to watch films. Everyone wants that, kan? That is incorrect. There’s a lot of paperwork also. Laporan this, laporan that. So many laporans just to justify one scene that is censored. It can be stressful.

Currently, we have to justify to the top as to why we didn’t ban a certain local movie from being screened. We have to review it. More work. But I cannot talk about it here. Sulit.

I admit. The job has a few perks. I get to watch things that other people cannot watch. I feel privileged. Like I’m in a class of my own, you see.

However, with this thing called internet downloading everyone can watch what I watched. I raised this with SKMM. But they said “sabar jela, Encik Shahruddin.” What do you mean sabar jela? Malaysia’s values are at stake! Sometimes I wish I could get a little “Thank you, Encik Shahruddin” for my tireless endeavours. Or at least a Datukship for my services to the country. I am after all like a judge; my decisions play a big part in shaping Malaysia’s morality.

This job is very important. I keep telling my wife and nine kids that I guard society’s morals. I don’t like to angkat bakul, but fact is fact. Audiovisual mediums embed a strong imagery into people’s minds. Those that are gullible and naive will easily follow what is onscreen. So people like me do a national service in protecting citizens from moral corruption.

But I can only do so much. Things used to be easier. Everyone was moral-er. Right now, immorality is common. The youth are morally bankrupt. Even my sons refrain from joining Rakan Muda.

I got so shocked when the other day, I was at a hotel in Penang with my wife when a couple kena tangkap basah by JAIPP. Moral corruption is eating society inside out.

So I need to work harder. I scrutinise films more carefully. I encourage my colleagues to watch the same films twice. I become more assertive in my views. No more berdiam diri. If values are threatened, we must react, lest our community be perceived as weak. We’ve been trampled on too many times already due to our kindness and tolerance.

Now, if I see a little bit of skin inappropriately shown or even kissing in those Western movies, I’ll vote to censor. Some colleagues don’t understand. They don’t mind a little kissing onscreen. “It makes the film realistic. Nanti rosak jalan cerita,”they say.

Hence, I have to give long speeches. I have to supply strong reasons as to why there is a need to censor those scenes. Kissing onscreen would lead to kissing in public. Kissing in public would lead to the destruction of the family. The destruction of the family would lead to violent crimes on the streets. You see the connection? After the speech then they will sedar. But I notice that it’s starting to lose its effect among my colleagues.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an extremist. People are trying to pressure me to allow homosexuals to be portrayed in local films. I bertolak-ansur. I say, you can do so but at the end of the film the homosexuals must repent and come back to the correct path. Mestilah insaf. I’m being moderate. But I won’t compromise our core moral values.

The censorship board is being infiltrated by the younger generation. Too many “anasir-anasir liberal tegar”. They think the West is the best and forget their asal-usul.  The censorship industry is facing a decline because of them.

Furthermore, liberals in society want to challenge authority. Don’t they know that Malaysia’s stability is because of authority? Look at Egypt. I’m sure their censors failed do a good job in safeguarding stability! They didn’t restrict violent movies, I think.

These liberals are also persuasive. Because of their eloquence, I was tricked to allow the latest scourge to come to the pawagam. The top was very unhappy with the film getting approved since it offended the sensitivities of this multiracial country. In hindsight, rightly so. I have to be more peka. I fear for my kids lah. I’m going to retire in a few years. These liberals will determine what our kids will watch.

Don’t you fear for Malaysia’s diminishing moral standards? I know I do.

11 replies on “A Few Words From a Censor”

  1. lets go reverse psychology on them. maybe if we answer on the censor's behalf, they'll eventually provoked to clear things up and reveal the mistery that is censorship board? btw aerie is in his twenties. saw him in varsity debate. Debaters for PM wohoo!

  2. Correct me if I'm wrong but this article seems heavily laden in satire. It's a good and funny piece which highlights the problems we have with censors. However, it does make me wonder what the members of the censorship board think when they go through these films.

  3. Foreword: I have no idea if Aerie works for LFN or wrote this as a proxy for someone else but here's my take on what's said in there.

    The article correctly describes everything wrong with censorship in Malaysia.

    1. I really don't like the idea of anyone no matter how well intentioned to tell me what I can or cannot watch. If you feel that something isn't appropriate to your values, don't bloody watch it. If I watch it and I think it is bull crap, more power to me. I'll make my opinions known on Rotten Tomatoes.

    2. We have a rating system that classifies movies based on content like ( sexual content, adult themes), but we butcher all the content because a censor says so. What's the point of releasing a god damn show with a rating if you have butchered it to 'G' but then ship it as 18+? By having a 18+ rating you are explicitly implying that people above 18 can handle these kind of content.

    3. You keep telling yourself that you are someone's moral guardian, I have to tell you something: Grow up. I don't need anyone tell me what morals are or what you think they are. Morals are something that people learn and adapt because they have empathy for others. It's not a forced train of thought. This is exactly the kind of thinking that lets us read the news that so an so can't participate in a beauty pageant because of various reasons.

    4. I don't see tolerance in the example you quoted about homosexuals. If you say they must repent at the end of the movie you're dictating what they should do and who they should conform to. This isn't tolerance this is conformity to another persons standards and beliefs. It's hardly being moderate.

    5. You say you were tricked by liberals, I would just say they had convincing arguments and you had nothing to substantial to argue in return ( can't really say since I wasn't part of the conversation).

  4. Since you're privileged to watch, does it mean you're privileged to be immoral? Maybe. But of course you don't abuse your privilege and freely give yourself in to immorality. Why? Because you don't submit yourself to be influenced! If films have that strong a power to reformat people, An Inconvenient Truth would have stopped global warming. Films play a part, but only when other factors yield its power. There's more than meets the eye.

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