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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Home Ministry visits PenangPAC on bid to screen gay movie

Several Home Ministry enforcement officers visited PenangPAC last night to "advise" the organiser of an event there not to screen movies that have not obtained government approval.
The meeting touched on the cancelling of the movie Lost in Paradise, which is about same sex relationship that was, on short notice, replaced with another film titled West Side Story.
Four officers from the northern branch of the Home Ministry office, which is based in Kepala Batas, arrived about 8.30pm, and went straight to the PenangPAC, which is located on the fourth floor.
After they entered, the shutter gate, which was earlier half closed, was pulled down and journalists were not allowed to enter PenangPAC, a private arts and threatre company.
When met after the meeting, Home Ministry (Penang branch) assistant enforcement officer Mohd Khairuddin Yusof said they visited the centre about 3pm yesterday and discovered that the screening of Lost in Paradise had already been cancelled.
"But we found out the replacement movie has also not obtained Home Ministry approval. So, we advised them to cancel the screening as well and they agreed to comply."
Mohd Khairuddin (on right in photo) said no further action will be taken as the screening of the movies did not proceed.
Asked about the explanation offered by PenangPAC, he said they appeared to be unfamiliar with the procedures for movie screening.
Lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender issues do not sit well with Malaysia's majority Malay-Muslim population.
Promoting gay culture
Despite the cancellation, several anti-gay groups were present at the site at Straits Quay in Tanjung Tokong, Penang, to show their protest against the movie.
Twelve protesters from Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang (JMPP) and Perwakilan Melayu Pulau Pinang (GPEM) also came and waited outside PenangPAC, but they did not chant any slogans or attempt to go inside.
They merely looked at the posters and other publicity materials outside the centre and then called for a press conference to voice their protest.
As the Home Ministry officers left the centre, the NGO members tried to ask about the meeting, expressing hope that the officers would enforce the law strictly to ensure the art centre would stop screening such movies in the future.
According to a poster pasted on the wall, the screening of West Side Story, which was supposed to replace Lost in Paradise, was also cancelled.
One of the protesters, JMPP president Hafiz Nordin (front row, left), condemned PenangPAC for trying to screen a gay movie.
"We see that as an attempt to go against the constitution. The main character in the movie, Khôi, is a homosexual and the movie tries to promote gay culture.
"This goes against Article 3(1) of our Federal Constitution, which states that Islam is the religion of the federation.
"They try to promote homosexuality, which is a deviant act, and this insults our Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who, as the head of the nation, has sworn to defend Islam," Hafiz added.
"Moreover, why do they want to screen a 2011 movie? What is their motive? Are they trying to challenge the constitution and disturb harmony?" he asked.
"It seems like there is a concerted effort to normalise this as we saw the move to form a transgender committee (in the Penang state assembly) not a long time ago."
Transgender panel not under the state
Currently not under the state government jurisdiction, the transgender committee is managed by DAP Tanjung Bungah assemblyperson Teh Yee Cheu and it is looking into the human rights issues of transgender people.
Hafiz, a former Penang PAS Youth leader, said he does not understand the motive for setting up the committee and urged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to answer his queries.
He then said that the chief minister could be a "ketua (chief) gay", after which he clarified, saying it was meant to be a joke.
Hafiz reminded reporters from the various news portals not to twist what he said.
He also said that JMPP did not mean to interrupt people from practising arts but urged them to respect the constitution if they claimed to be citizens of this country.

"We want to warn them not to repeat it again in future. We will still uphold Islam, but these days as people's souls have been eroded, they don't know how to respect the constitution and some even questioned Islam," he said.
GPEM president Mohd Rizuad Azuddin said these kinds of films should not be screened at all in the first place.
"This is a serious matter, which we can't take it lightly. We need to tackle the issue from the root and cannot give them any room or space to grow."- Mkini

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