Producer Of Namewee's Controversial Film 'Babi' Charged For Unlicensed Production

Namewee took a jab at the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) for pressing charges against his producer when the agency should be protecting filmmakers in the country.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today & Namewee Studio Production via TanTan News

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The producer of controversial film Babi was charged in court with participating in its production and displaying posters without a licence from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS)

According to Bernama, Toh Han Boon appeared in Petaling Jaya Magistrate's Court when the charge was read out to him in Bahasa Melayu yesterday, 21 July.

The 35-year-old is accused of violating Section 22 (1) of the FINAS Act 1981 (Act 244 -Amendment 2013), which is punishable under Section 25 (1) of the same act.

The producer for director and singer Namewee's film allegedly committed the offence on Jalan PJU 7/8, Mutiara Damansara in Petaling Jaya on 18 November 2020.

If convicted, he could be fined up to RM50,000, imprisoned up to two years, or both.

Toh — also known as Joko Toh — was seen handcuffed and escorted by a police officer when he was walking outside the court.

Accused Toh Han Boon.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

Deputy public prosecutor Zamriah Zarifah Aris offered bail of RM8,000 with one surety, requested Toh to surrender his passport, and to report to the nearest police station once a month during the trial period

In mitigation, lawyer Mohd Haijan — who represented Toh — objected to the bail amount, contending that it was unreasonable and punitive for the nature of offence committed.

"My client can attend court according to the set date. I am also applying for low bail as his income is also affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the lawyer said.

He also stressed that the case was not an offence under the Penal Code, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Magistrate Muhammad Iskandar Zainol later granted Toh a bail of RM5,000 with one surety with no additional condition.

Iskandar set 14 October for further mention of the case.

The poster of the controversial film has various derogatory words that are often associated with Malaysia's three major races.

Image via Namewee Studio Production via TanTan News

When Toh was charged, Namewee is said to have waited for his producer outside the court as a show of support

In a Facebook post published before the proceeding yesterday, the filmmaker — whose real name is Wee Meng Chee — took a jab at FINAS for pressing charges against Toh, saying the department should have been the unit that fights for film creation and takes care of filmmakers.

"The film Babi will face charges officially today. Film producer Joko Toh, lawyer Edly Firdauz, and I are ready outside the court," he wrote. 

"The film which was nominated in four countries and never screened in Malaysia had been threatened by FINAS. Good luck."

The film gained Malaysians' attention late last year when it received nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Bangkok International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Golden Horse Awards.

Following that, in November, the Federal Territories Perikatan Nasional (PN) Youth lodged a police report against Namewee over the film's poster, which shows various derogatory words used against the country's major races.

A month later, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) requested a local association to file an official complaint against Babi so the agency can make a detailed assessment of its content.

Learn more about the controversy here:

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