KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activist Lena Hendry, who was fined RM10,000 for screening an uncensored documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war, said Malaysia’s censorship law is becoming “very ridiculous”.
Commenting on the issue of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast that had courted controversy recently over a “gay moment” in the movie and her conviction over the screening of the documentary in 2013, Lena said the censorship board should let the general public judge what is deemed right or wrong in a movie.
“Let people decide what they should watch. Don’t tell them what to watch.
“Everyone can judge for themselves if the contents are appropriate or otherwise,” she said, after paying her fine at the Magistrate’s Court here.
Yesterday, Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) had announced Beauty and the Beast will be screened on March 30, after it was approved for release without any cuts, following an appeal by Disney, but with a P13 rating.
Lena, who is Pusat Komas programme coordinator, also said the RM10,000 imposed on her was excessive.
“The RM10,000 fine for showing a human rights film for educational purposes is a steep sentence and it has become a new form of repression on the freedom of expression,” she said, adding she will also fight for the reform of the Film Censorship Act.
She was fined RM10,000 after the court found her guilty of screening the Sri Lankan civil war documentary, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2013.
Meanwhile, lawyer New Sin Yew hoped no individual nor movie would fall “victim” to the Film Censorship Act again.
“Last week it was Beauty and the Beast, and Lena became the victim this week,” he said.
New added that the censorship law needs to be amended to keep up with the times.
“No one should be penalised when they try to highlight a public interest issue such as the Sri Lankan genocide as in Lena’s case.”