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No such thing as barring ‘pondans’, says Maglin

 | April 6, 2012

Deputy information minister Maglin Dennis D'Cruz meanwhile says the Facebook posting could be the work of a sole individual.


PETALING JAYA: A government directive supposedly barring gay, transsexual or effeminate men from being featured over Malaysia’s airwaves has been clarified as a mistake.

And in another development,  speaking to FMT, Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Maglin Dennis D’Cruz said that his ministry had not ordered gays to be taken off the air.

In fact, the deputy minister said he Facebook message might have been posted by a sole individual.

“There is no directive. Only the minister (Rais Yatim) can (issue) a directive. Because if it was a directive, it would have come to us, and all the senior officials (in the ministry) immediately… I think it was (done) by an individual,” he said.

At the same time, Maglin added that the ministry had no intention of stopping gays, transsexuals or effeminate men from appearing on radio or television.

“These people are everywhere, and they’re also human beings. Nobody has the right to stop them or anything, because we also respect them as human beings.

“Don’t humiliate them. Who says they can’t act in movies? Nobody says that they can’t act… If they want to be an engineer, lawyer, actor, whatever they want to do, we (will) help them,” he said.

Later in the day, Maglin’s boss, Rais Yatim was quoted by Bernama as saying that no ban existed on the portrayal of LGBT characters on state-owned television channels.

“There is no ban on any artistic performance by any segment of society, including those acronymed as “soft” (or effeminate) men,” he said in a Twitter posting.

However, he said the his ministry “still reserved the right to select content suitable for the general public given that Malaysia is a multiracial, multi-religious and multi-cultural country”.

Reprint of a Bernama Radio24 posting

Earlier this morning, in a Facebook message, the Department of Information (which comes under the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry) said the order was actually a reprint of a Bernama Radio24 Facebook discussion topic.

However, the government department did not say why it chose to reprint this message, instead of rewording it to make it seem as though it was indeed a discussion.

“Our Facebook post last night (highlighting the) issue of stopping programmes broadcasting pondans, effeminate men as well as characters that come into conflict with social norms was a Radio Bernama24 discussion topic that (we) picked off their Facebook page.

“It is not a directive issued by any party. We apologise if there has been any confusion caused by our Facebook status last night,” the department’s latest Facebook status update (posted after 11am today) read.

The original notice

At around 6pm yesterday, the department wrote that gay, pondan (transsexuals) and effeminate characters went against social and religious norms.

Radio and television stations were to stop featuring people depicting these characteristics “effective immediately.”

A quick check on Bernama Radio24’s Facebook page showed that it had the same message, although it had an extra paragraph that read: “Are such restrictions relevant, or is this action denying the current realities of our daily life? What’s your say (on this ):           03-26927939?”

The department’s original message read: “Effective immediately, radio and television stations have been asked to stop programmes that broadcast characters (depicting) ‘pondans’ (transsexuals), effeminate men as well as characters that are in conflict with social and religious norms because they can be said to be in support of (and) contributing to the increase of the LGBT social problem.”

FMT noticed that the government department’s offending Facebook post did mention Bernama Radio24 as a source in a later comment, although it wasn’t clear on that particular detail.

A flurry of angry Facebook messages criticising the department also caused it to react defensively.

This morning, the department said (in the offending Facebook post): “:) You can say what you want, but condemning the Department of Information is not a smart thing to do. The purpose of this Facebook page is to relay information to Malaysians who are getting more active with Facebook.”

“If you don’t like this status, sorry. The moderator is only relaying news from the source (Bernama). Thank you.”

Also read:

No ‘pondans’ allowed on TV, radio


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