Film Censorship Act & You

Akta Penapisan Filem menentukan apa yang boleh ditayang di panggung wayang dan saluran televisyen, dan merangkumi semua jenis bahan seperti filem, siri drama dan iklan. Ini cara ia berfungsi:

B. Malaysia

The Film Censorship Act (FCA) states that films, motion pictures and moving images meant for public viewing needs to be reviewed before they are screened.

Only films with screening certificates are allowed to be screened.

This includes trailers and advertisements.

This does NOT include films for :

  • screening over the internet,
  • private screening unless they are lewd,
  • produced by the state and federal governments.

Home Minister:

  • appoints LPF and AC members.
  • determines regulations for censorship including content restrictions.
  • has the ultimate decision what films are cut, banned or exempted from censorship.

Appeals Committee (AC):

  • hears appeals of LPF decisions.
  • includes members from ministerial depts. and the police.
  • not required to have industry, society voices.
  • expertise, technical qualifications in film industry not necessary.

Censorship Board (LPF):

  • sits under the Home Ministry.
  • approve, censor and classify films.
  • interprets content restriction rules.
  • expertise, technical qualifications in film industry not necessary.

1. Informal feedback

  • some filmmakers get Censorship Board’s (LPF) feedback on scripts and outlines to know what can or cannot be in the film.
  • filmmakers must also get approval from police and religious authorities for films that law and order, religious and horror themes. (Link to filmmaker testimony in Filmmaker voices on dealing with police)

2. Official censorship process

  • A film must be submitted for censorship to LPF within 14 days after completion. Failure to do so is a criminal offence. 
  • scenes, sounds, dialogue and subtitles are reviewed against ministry’s content guidelines.
  • LPF can approve, ban film or inform owner of cuts that are required.
  • Film owner must take LPF’s cuts or face criminal prosecution.
  • LPF need not hear out film owner.

3. Rating

  • Once approved, a film is viewer-rated ‘U’, ‘PG13’ or ‘18’. The film owner need not be informed of decision.

4. Appeal

  • film owner may appeal LPF decisions within 30 days of notification.
  • the AC can confirm, vary or reverse an LPF decision.
  • LPF must follow and implement the AC’s decision.
  • The AC is not required to explain its decision to film owner.

5. Minister’s power

  • can ban a film if he or she feels it would be contrary to public interest.
  • can exempt any film from censorship, she or he thinks it is in the public interest.

Film content that will not be approved:

  • With a theme, storyline, or plot contrary to socio-culture or noble values; is seditious or anti-religious; insults the beliefs or customs of a particular community or group; or has elements contradicting government policies, excessive violence and cruelty.
  • With an “illogical” theme, storyline or plot that may lead citizens astray and cause foreign countries to have a poor perception of Malaysian socio-culture and noble values.
  • Does not respect Malaysia as a sovereign nation but instead condemns Malaysia; smears the country’s good name, image and people; or contravenes decorum and the Rukun Negara.

Restricted content that will be scrutinised :

  • Security and public order
    1. is contrary to the principles of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara;
    2. portrays the triumph of violence, anarchy and evil over the rule of law, justice and truth;
    3. discredits or denigrates the ruling government, its leaders or foreign governments;
    4. is provocative, slanderous or stir social unrest;
    5. describes a modus operandi for wrongdoing that can provoke imitation;
    6. glorifies crime and dangerous driving without eventual retribution;
    7. portrays legal authorities as not eventually taking action against criminals;
    8. portrays the use of destructive weapons in a violent and shocking manner against a group;
    9. has close up scenes of drug abuse, or beatings and torture (of humans or animals).
  • Religion
    1. Teachings against God and religion that support fanatical beliefs, or criticise/discredit any religion;
    2. Misinterpretations of the concept of Jihad equating it with violence.
    3. Relating to the Islamic religion, restrictions limit how Islam and Muslims are depicted, and ensure that such films do not stray from the dominant State-prescribed narrative of Islamic religious beliefs, practices and precepts. There are 17 aspects on which films may be rejected/censored, ranging from:
      1. (a) The general, e.g. ‘ridiculing and derision of the purity of Islam’; ‘contrary to the belief, laws and teachings of Islam’; ‘conflicting with the opinions of Muslim clerics’ or ‘Making use of Islamic issues and depicting scenes that can lead to disunity among the Muslim community in this country’;
      2. (b) The specific, e.g. ‘historically incorrect, for example of the life history of the Prophets’; ‘the writing of the Qur’anic verses in a language other than Arabic’; ‘dialogue or scenes that celebrate the victory or glorify the gains and benefits of a person who has forsaken the Islamic religion without any retribution to the offender’; or ‘a Muslim who plays the character of non-Islamic faith such as a monk, clergyman, nun and who performs acts of worship in a temple, church, etc’.

      There are 36 aspects on which polytheistic content in film will be rejected or censored. Such a film will be allowed if the objective is to redress the faith, prevent polytheism, and the characters repent or receive retribution. Taken in totality, the
      restrictions on polytheism provide the LPF extensive and arbitrary discretion to censor content that portrays the practices of polytheistic religions and beliefs.

  • socio culture
    1. Political structures and positions of authority, e.g. content that degrades Malay Rulers, governors and ‘national issues’; matters inconsistent with the Constitution and Rukun Negara.
    2. Superstition and religion, e.g. showcasing lifestyles ‘contrary to religious teachings and culture that can lead to the destruction of the noble values of society’; superstitious rituals that display shocking cruelty towards humans or animals; worshiping the devil without retribution; portraying a Muslim male main character with earrings and tattoos; or portraying Malay folk tales and legends that glorify matters contrary to the Islamic faith.
    3. Sexuality and obscenity, e.g. sex scenes inc. homosexual and ‘unnatural’ sex; sexually provocative scenes and dialogue inc.passionate kissing, provocative kissing on other body parts or embraces and fondling in a provocative manner; full nudity; erotic sounds; women in scanty or transparent clothing; artwork displaying sexual acts; or scenes of incest or animals procreating.
    4. Content depicting non-heteronormative behaviour/orientation is restricted.
    5. Violence and oppressive behaviour, e.g. scenes of excessive violence; or scenes of oppression of a race or society.
    6. Portrayal of children, i.e. content showing children smoking,drinking, alcohol or taking drugs.
  • decorum and morality
    1. Attire, e.g. actors in revealing clothing exposing much of their bodies;
    2. Cultural/moral beliefs, e.g. glorification of wicked deeds; deriding the disabled or marginalised; disrespectful behaviour towards parents, senior citizens, women, children and the disabled; content that normalises or turns into amusement actions that are discourteous or despicable; content that induce the performance of immoral, deviationist or wicked acts; portrayal of artistic skills disrespectful or in conflict with the ‘artistic values of the Malaysian values’;
    3. Transgenderism, i.e. depictions of transgender behaviour and lifestyle;
    4. Environmental protection, e.g. showing actions polluting the environment which is not part of the storyline;
  • Obscene words in Malay, English, Chinese, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi will be censored.

Survey on censorship

Survey on Censorship

Bebaskan Filem, Merdekakan Minda Rakyat is a campaign to allow filmmakers, creative content creators and Malaysian audiences the FREEDOM to think, explore, experiment, express and engage with one another.

The data and feedback that we receive from this survey will help us create a groundswell to enact real change to achieve our campaign’s aims. Thank you for your participation and support.