Malaysian horror controversy

17 Oct – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's criticism of local horror films corrupting Malaysian society had generated enough controversy that now the Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM), held a press conference to speak on their behalf to defend against the accusations, according to a report by The Daily Chilli's website.

The controversy arose a few days ago when Tun Mahathir was quoted as saying "The prevalence of ghost stories was responsible for the hysteria attacks among Malay female students"

Shortly after, the National Fatwa Council went on to describe local horror films as "counter-productive to building a developed society, especially among Muslims because they encouraged a belief in mythical beings."

This in turn led the Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) that saw speakers comprising of local filmmakers Shuhaimi Baba, Ahmad Idham, Norman KRU and Pasha, to counter those claims.

"With due respect to Tun Mahathir, it's not fair to blame horror films for any social problems that we have," director-producer Ahmad Idham was quoted as saying to defend his films who have been accused of glorifying the 'mat rempit' ('illegal racer') subculture and the mocking of Quranic verses in his latest movie "Hantu Bonceng".

"Some people are more easily affected by horror films, but that does not mean film-makers should be blamed for their fears," he added. "Some horror films might even end up reinforcing audiences' faith. Malay horror films, especially, advocated the Quran and Islam as a means of fighting evil."

Filmmaker Shuhaimi Baba then added that she believed there are attempts by several "powerful groups" who are eyeing to sanction horror films in Malaysia.

The director of "Pontiank Harum Sundal Malam" said, "We need to correct the wrong perceptions of local horror films. This genre can attract a lot of investment and has good export potential for our country."

The group concluded that PFM would be meeting with Tun Mahathir, Finas and the Malaysian Censorship Board to talk and said "Why blame us when we have so many imported, more horrifying films from Hollywood, Korea, Japan and Thailand?" "Our local horror films are mainly comedy horrors anyway. Like "Hantu Bonceng", "Ngangkung and "Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah". Real horror films don't do well at the Malaysian box office," she added.

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