Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bengoh DVDs to be censored before it can be sent overseas!

DVD sleeve design for the Bengoh film

It was a pleasant surprise to get 2 orders for Bengoh DVDs from overseas. So I enquired about the postage at the Pos Laju and Post Office to find out the poatage so that I can inform the orderers the amount they have to add on to the DVD cost. To my surprise the Pos Laju asked me to obtain a stamp fro the KDN (Kementerian Dalam Negeri/Interior Ministry) before they will process the posting.He tried to reassure me that it does not take long and there is no extra charges to get the stamp. I tried the post office for regular mail. The answer was the same-need a stamp from the KDN. Well, look like there is no way to escape that. I remember that there were some hassles like this when I tried to send an entry to a Japanese film competition before, via a private courier company. Just could not remember how they finally settled it-but the DVD was sent over in time. Now I just have to try my luck personally this time.

I took a lift to the KDN office at 4th floor of a government building, next to the Generl Post Office, George Town. There was a girl at the counter. I asked how do I get a stamp for my DVD. She said it can only be done by a qualified officer, and no one was around. It was already 4.30pm at that time. I was a bit worried if I could not do it on that day. She called around to locate a qualified officer. Then I was so lucky that a young man in uniform turn up to the counter and offered to check my DVD for stamping. I was prepared for a long process as the Bengoh DVD was 25min long.

He really went through the DVD and asked me no less than 10 questions: What is this video about? (Ans: a documentary about the Bengoh vilagers facing eviction due to a dam)Are the residents in Bengoh opposed to the dam? (answer: no) Are they into asking for compensation? (answer : yes!) Are they holding any demonstration about the dam? (answer; no). The questions continue in this trend. It was more about the political aspect of the film than really the content and merit of the film. However a good thing from the questions was: he did not seems to pay much attention to the video and were fast forwarding it-probably also because the time was close to closing time for the office. He was satisfied with my asnwer and stamped 2 envelops containing a DVD each. I thank him and hurried over to the GPO to send it before they close shop for the day at 5.00pm.

What an experience in subjecting the Bengoh to censorship! But it was worrying as the officer could one day decide on some spurious ground or citing some obscure clauses in the law to refuse stamping on the envelop! Then???? Is there any appeal mechanism? What are the criteria of censorship? I cannot count on my luck if the same DVD were to be vetted by another `qualified' censorship officer! If there are more orders from overseas it will mean more runs to the Interior Ministry ala Ministry of Truth run by the Big Bro!

More screenings coming!

Meanwhile to promote the Bengoh film and to leverage on it to kick start an anti-dam campaign in West Malaysia we are going around to small community groups to show them the film and do a small presentation of the 12 big dams to be built in Sarawak. Next screening is at Puchong Book Club, 4.00pm, today (Oct 16th. All welcome to join this screening or call us to organise one for your community group at a convenient time and location for your members! Enq. 013-5900339 (Ong BK)or 

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