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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 13:43 GMT
Singapore bans US comedy film
Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller plays a clueless supermodel
Singapore has changed its mind and banned the release of an American film in which a male model is brainwashed into assassinating the prime minister of its neighbour, Malaysia.

Film censors in Singapore said the decision on the black comedy, Zoolander, came after feedback, but gave no details.

Black Hawk Down publicity
Black Hawk Down has also attracted criticism in SE Asia
But the censors did not say whether this referred to sensitivities over the plot, or to sexual content and drug references in the film.

Zoolander is also not being shown in Malaysia itself, where officials condemned it as distasteful in the light of global efforts to combat terrorism.

There has also been opposition in the United States to Zoolander, in which the Malaysian leader, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is targeted because his plans to stamp out child labour threaten the fashion industry.

Hatred of US 'explained'

One leading American film critic, Roger Ebert, said the movie could help explain why the United States is so hated in many parts of the world.

Another recent Hollywood hit, Black Hawk Down has also angered Malaysians.

Government officials say the film, about a battle in Somalia in 1993 in which 18 US and one Malaysian soldier were killed, ignores the sacrifices of Malaysian troops.

The Malaysian Defence Ministry has said it intends to release evidence to clarify the role of Malaysian forces who rescued the American soldiers during the battle.

Controversial plot

In Zoolander, Hollywood comedy star Ben Stiller plays brainless supermodel Derek Zoolander who is talked into killing Dr Mahathir.

The murder is to retaliate against plans to ruin the fashion industry by raising the minimum wage for workers in the country.

The film was given a 13-rating on its release in the US.

Correspondents say Singapore often censors or bans films and publications deemed to have excessive amounts of sexual or drug references.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Film
Hawk facts questioned again
12 May 99 | Entertainment
The spy who shocked Singapore
22 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
New Connery film 'distorts' Malaysia
27 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Malaysia bans Spielberg's Prince
10 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Row over King and I movie
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