Malaysia bans world’s most popular song as it’s ‘not suitable’ for Islam

Malaysia has stopped playing the sexually charged song Despacito on public radio, a senior minister said after critics labelled it un-Islamic. Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said his ministry received numerous complaints about the steamy lyrics of the song that has won international popularity. Ruling party official Atriza Umar told The Star newspaper: “I regret that these problematic songs are not censored by the ministries. I urge the authorities to ban this song and other songs that contain sexy and violent lyrics which are not suitable in accordance with Islam.”

What next? The Spanish-language song – its title means “slowly” – was released by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee in January and a remix features Justin Bieber. In English, the lyrics include the lines: “I want to breathe on your neck slowly ... Let me tell you things in your ears” and “I want to undress you with kisses slowly ... And make your whole body a manuscript”. Despacito is the most streamed track ever, with more than 4.6 billion plays across all platforms.

‘Jet-set monk’ charged with raping minor after returning to Thailand

A Thai court has charged a disgraced former monk with the rape of an underage girl, fraud and money laundering. Wiraphon Sukphon, 37, was arrested on arrival at Bangkok’s main airport from the US where he established an unofficial Buddhist teaching centre after fleeing Thailand in 2013. He faces five charges, including raping a minor under 15 years old, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years. He did not apply for bail.

What next? Wiraphon made headlines in 2013 when video emerged of him with two other monks on a private jet wearing sunglasses and carrying Louis Vuitton bags, earning him the tabloid moniker the ‘jet-set monk’. A subsequent investigation led to authorities seizing US$770,000 of his assets, including Porsche and Mercedes-Benz cars, and multiple bank accounts. He fathered a child with the girl he is accused of raping. The scandal-mired cleric went by the name Luang Pu Nen Kham and claimed he was the reincarnation of a famous monk who performed miracles. His temple in the rural town of Buriram disrobed him after the allegations surfaced and he fled the kingdom.

Singapore dissolves marriage after husband’s sex-change operation

Singapore has voided the marriage of a couple after the husband had a sex change, making their partnership a same-sex union, breaking the city state’s laws. The couple married in 2015 but the husband had the sex change operation and updated his national ID card to say “female”, The Straits Times reported. When they applied for a scheme to help married couples buy their first home, they had to tell the authorities. The marriage was then voided several months later, the paper said.

What next? Singapore’s Registry of Marriage said the country’s laws state marriage is a union between a man and a woman. “At the point of marriage, a couple must be man and woman, and must want to be and want to remain as man and woman in the marriage,” it said in a statement. Singapore maintains legislation dating back to British colonial rule making sex between men a criminal act, although it’s generally not enforced. Jean Chong of a Singapore-based lesbian advocacy group said “policies need to catch up with the realities of society”.

Stalled by censors, India’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burka’ to finally hit screens

The release in India of a Hindi film exploring female sexuality this week after a battle with the country’s film censors is a victory for women’s rights, its director said. Lipstick Under My Burka hit screens five months after the country’s censor board refused to certify it for being “lady oriented”. The film tells the story of the secret lives and desires of four women – including a student who wears a burka and a 55-year-old who rekindles her sex life after the death of her husband. “If it had not released, that would have set a precedent that it’s OK to gag 50 per cent of the population,” director Alankrita Shrivastava said.

What next? India’s censor board, the Central Board of Film Certification, sparked uproar in February when it blocked the film. The ruling was mocked on social media. The board, which has a history of barring movies it deems too racy or at risk of causing religious offence, complained of “sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography {phone sex}”. Critics complain that the board regularly approves adult comedies containing derogatory jokes about women that are directed by men and target India’s mainly young, male audience.

Bereaved New Zealand family protests Japan’s psychiatric care

Mental health care in Japan is under scrutiny following the death of a New Zealander who died after being restrained in a hospital for 10 days. Kelly Robert Savage, an English teacher, was admitted to Yamato Hospital outside Yokohama in April after experiencing manic episodes related to his bipolar disorder. He was immediately strapped down because the hospital thought he might become agitated, said his brother Patrick. Kelly went into cardiac arrest after 10 days and died seven days later. The family suspects the death was caused by deep-vein thrombosis resulting from his immobility, and blames the hospital.

What next? His family is calling for action to stop the practice in “Japan’s broken psychiatric system”, as Patrick called it. “The world needs to know what’s happening, and Japan needs to act immediately to stop it,” he said. Toshio Hasegawa, a professor at Kyorin University in Tokyo, said psychiatric patients in Japan are restrained for an average of 96 days, while in other countries restraint generally lasts only a few hours.

Compiled by Benjamin O’Rourke