The Government is urged to review its decision on “Passion of The
by Teresa Kok
(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): I wish to express my deep regret at the reply given by the Minister of Home Affairs to my question whether the movie “Passion of the Christ” had been banned in Malaysia. The answer given that the movie is allowed to be screened but only in designated cinemas and for Christian audience only is most perplexing.
Such an answer is contradictory to the policy of the Barisan Nasional government which claims to promote racial and religious tolerance as well as clearly contrary to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
Based on the answer given by the Ministry of Home Affairs where a movie about the suffering of Jesus Christ could only be allowed to be watched by Christians in designated theaters, does it mean that the government is going to implement a policy where movies concerning Islam or Islamic figures in history could only be allowed to be watched by Muslims, where movies about Buddhism and Buddha could only be watched by Buddhists and movies related to Hinduism can only be watched by Hindus?
Isn’t this regulation or policy against the spirit of a multi-racial society where mutual understanding of each other’s belief and religion is most needed to promote unity among the people in the country? Isn’t this kind of policy a stumbling block to racial and religious harmony and would segregate believers of different religions and races?
Merely watching a movie about a religious figure, such as “Passion of The Christ” would not automatically convert a person to another religion, rather it would help to promote deeper understanding of the religion. Moreover, knowledge about different religions can help to create deeper respect and understanding among people of different faiths, and this kind of knowledge is most needed for a multi-racial society like Malaysia to promote unity.
In fact, movies about religious figures had been screened in Malaysian cinemas previously such as “Little Buddha” about the life of Gautama Buddha portrayed by Keanu Reaves and “7 Years in Tibet” about the Dalai Lama starring Brad Pitt. Another movie called “Jesus of Nazareth” was also screened some decades back. As such, why is the Home Ministry now adopting such a retrogressive stance of restricting the screening of “Passion of the Christ”? Furthermore, to my knowledge, the movie had not been screened in any cinemas in the country at all.
I therefore urge the Ministry of Home Affairs to review its decision on the movie of “Passion of The Christ”, and to allow it to be screened in all cinemas in Malaysia. I also urge the same policy to be applied to other movies concerning religious figures like Gautama Buddha, Prophet Mohamad and others.
Let the people of Malaysia enjoy the same freedom to watch any movie of their choice. The government should stop practicing unnecessary censorship and treating the people like children, otherwise this can only undermine efforts of the government to ban pirated VCDs in Malaysia.
* Teresa Kok, MP for Seputeh