On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Porn clean-up calls for drive and stamina

The seriousness of the moment was lightened when the two politicians admitted
that they, too, had been watching pirated VCDs.

The fact that so many VCDs are being openly sold,
particularly at night markets and five-foot ways, is proof that there is a
demand.

No Malaysian will admit on record that they buy these fakes, at RM5 each or
less, but there certainly is a market for them.

Among the many reasons why Malaysians buy pirated VCDs – mostly movies – is
because they are out on the streets faster than at the cinemas.

As much as Malaysians are aware that stolen intellectual property is a crime,
the reality of the pocket seems to have taken priority.

Malaysians also prefer to watch their movies uncensored. Most of us are simply
tired of our Censorship Board, comprising mostly retired civil servants who
seem out of touch with the growing sophistication of Malaysians.

These scissors-wielding protectors of society have earned the wrath of most
Malaysians who find most of their decisions ridiculous.

But pirated VCDs have come with a price for Malaysians who want cheap movies –
the easier availability of pornographic shows.

South Korean, Hong Kong and Japanese smut now flood the VCD market and school
children are said to be among the big buyers.

According to one recent church survey in Malaysia, pornographic addiction is
now the biggest problem for the Christian community. It has affected not just
churchgoers but also church workers such as pastors.

The problem is not just the occasional purchase of a pornographic VCD but an
addiction either through VCD or the Internet.

Realising the magnitude of this social concern, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk
Seri Abdullah Badawi has taken the right step in ordering a joint assault on
pornographic VCD, with the various agencies vowing to go after manufacturers,
production houses and street peddlers to stamp out this menace.

Last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a similar order
and, for a while, the authorities concerned sprang into a series of
high-profile action. However, the operations dissipated after a while.

It remains to be seen whether these agencies have the determination and stamina
to keep at it in this current clampdown.

To make the operations more meaningful, the Anti-Corruption Agency should be
roped in with its own investigations.

The pirated VCD market is too lucrative and no one will be surprised if
powerful forces are found to be involved.

Let's not fool ourselves into believing that eradicating smut peddlers from our
neighbourhoods would solve our problem.

The menace is easily available on the Internet in the privacy of our homes, and
sometimes for free.

Unless we monitor our children's usage of the Internet, we cannot be certain of
the websites they visit.

We would only be paying the telephone bill, believing that our hard-working
youngsters are on the way to Harvard.

There is a positive note, however. Remember when the first video recorders came
to Malaysia, pornographic video tapes were the rage but soon, people got bored
and went on to other things.