Sunday, July 19, 2009

Government refuses to classify One Nation Under Lee

The Board of Film Censors (BFC) had refused to classify the film One Nation Under Lee (ONUL, here), a documentary made by Mr Seelan Palay about Mr Lee Kuan Yew's oppression of Singapore.

Mr Martyn See, another filmmaker, submitted ONUL to the BCF in May this year for approval and rating. However, as Mr See reports in his blog, the authorities have declined to classify the film.

“It is probably the only video submission in BFC's history that has been deemed unclassifiable,” Mr See writes.

The stated reason from the censors is that the video contains material from another film Zahari's 17 Years (click here) produced by Mr See about the legendary Mr Said Zahari who was imprisoned without trial by Mr Lee Kuan Yew for 17 years.

Because Zahari's 17 Years was banned and ONUL contains parts of it, the BFC is saying that Mr Seelan's film is therefore unclassifiable.

This reason, if it can be considered one, doesn't make sense. Why can't the authorities make a decision on whether to approve ONUL and rate it accordingly based on its contents? The reference to Mr Said Zahari in the video is minimal and does not alter the film's theme.

The real reason for not classifying the film, one suspects, is because to do so would be to allow it to be screened to the public at large. Sacre bleu! What would Mr Lee think?

But to ban it would be to draw more attention to the film. As it is, because of the Media Development Authorities' seizing of ONUL when it was first screened, the film has attracted tens of thousands of viewers. Google and YouTube have removed the video because of “copyright” reasons. (See here)

And so the effort to control what Singaporeans watch continues – a sure sign of the nervousness of our undemocratic rulers.

Source: Singapore Democrats


Robox said...

Because this topic falls within the larger rubric of freedom and speech and expression, I take this opportunity to illustrate how the institution of the free speech, along with all other public institutions, have been experiencing a deliberate and systemic weakening under what could be called the PAP's War of Attrition against all our Public Institutions.

I refer specifically to this session in which Vivian "I want to see a system of checks and balances"* Balakrishnan preyed on young impressionable minds by disinforming them on the essential function of freedom of speech, namely that of a problem-solving tool.

On the broad topic of the freedom of speech, Vivian Balakrishnan did what the PAP government is wont to do: narrow down all considerations for what is really a very complex subject by using the scare tactic of "race riots" which has always been effective in giving Singaporeans the false sense that we are either under constant siege or that we are particularly more vulnerable to security problems than all other countries. (Note: If it's true that we are vulnerable, then it must be because the PAP government does not have the competence to deal withn race and security-realted issues except to clamp down the discourse around race to zero.)

Consider these statements in the short writeup by the student councillors in REACH:

Re: "Dr Vivian went on to address our questions regarding freedom of speech in Singapore. This time round, he asked us to consider the primary objective for freedom of speech in Singapore, and invited us to consider it alongside the search for truth...We were then asked to consider the multi-ethnic makeup in Singapore, and the need to be aware of the consequences brought about by free speech."

(Note: The primary objective of freedom of speech in Singapore is exactly the one elsewhere in the world: as a problem soving tool.)

This is the PAP government's typical "vulnerability" argument against the democratic/human right to free speech which at other times is used in anti-democracy arguments.

If what Vivian Balakrishnan is saying is that there ought to be curbs against racist speech or hate speech directed at members of other races, which can then result in socio-political tensions between racial groups, then it is clear that the PAP government has not been listening.

Most Singaporeans, even those who have fundamental disagreements with the PAP government do want curbs on the wilful propogation of hate speech against people of every class, including gays. (REACH probably thinks that the unbridled militant Christian activism that it is still helping to promote on its website does not qualify as the aiding and abetting of hate towards one class of Singaporeans which is expressly prohibited by the Sedition Act, and continues despite this disclaimer on the website: "REACH reserves the right to remove comments that are deemed inappropriate and/or insensitive to other users.")

This is where the government shows itself up as a bunch of incompetent fools.

The curbs against the freedom of speech is not confined solely to issues of race relations but the sensitivity around races issues are being used as an anti-freedom of speech argument by the cunning government in ALL other matters, and for the express purpose of circumventing any possibility of its own wrongdoings being shown up.

This example in this article is one more illustration of the PAP government's attempts to cover up its wrongdoings by refusing to classify ONUL using the "we are vulnerable" plea.

* When he was first introduced as a new PAP candidate, Vivian Balakrishnan declared his burning ambition to reform the PAP by working towards a system of checks and balances. We are still waiting, though not naive enough to do so with bated breath.