Non-Muslim religious authorities can boost movie industry

Nue-JazlanPETALING JAYA: The Home Ministry has asked Hindu Sanggam and church authorities to help improve the country’s movie industry by imparting knowledge of their respective religions to movie makers.

Its deputy minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the ministry wanted movies that had the potential to educate viewers and added, “We do not want to censor every movie. If we were to censor all kinds of films, it will not create a good culture.”

“We want to give space and allow our movie makers to explore the industry,” he said in reply to a question by Ahmad Marzuki Shaary (PAS-Bachok), who asked the ministry whether the government would make use of the Film Censorship Board to ensure the Syariah compliance of films screened here.

Marzuki cited the movie ‘Muhammad’ that was screened in several countries but not in Malaysia although it could be downloaded at will from the Internet. He also said some of the movies shown on cable TV Astro were not based on Islamic values.

Nur Jazlan explained that his ministry was responsible for film censorship and could only take action against movies that promoted violence, such as those perpetrated by extremist group Islamic State.

He also explained that there was a difference between movies shown in cinemas with those screened over RTM, subscription-based channels or downloaded from the Internet.

He added that all the movies shown in the country should be in line with the country’s laws and that it should promote peace and good culture and should not touch on religious sensitivities.

“If it goes against any of these requirements, it will not be allowed to be distributed and shown. The move must suit the multicultural background of the country and be in accordance with guidelines set by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).”

The ministry, he said, had also researched the censorship guidelines of neighbouring countries.

In Singapore, Nur Jazlan said, the censorship board allowed viewers to make decisions based on the ratings given at the beginning of the movie. For instance, it would be rated according to age and the genre of the movie.

“While in Indonesia, movies are prohibited from promoting pornography and should not stir violence and religious or racial sensitivities,” he said.