Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Singapore police seized video at book launch

Over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians were treated to 38 films which had explicitly promoted themes of human rights, freedom of expression and other socio-political issues, including an unapologetically one-sided film higlighting the injustices of the Internal Security Act.

As a true blue, law-abiding Singaporean, I had asked the organiser of the Freedom Film Festival if any of the films were submitted to the authorities for approval. She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, "No, but if they want to censor us, we'll defend our rights to freedom of expression."

So that's how things are in Malaysia. They just do it, and worry about consequences later.

After the festival, I took the coach back to Singapore. Upon crossing the causeway, I was greeted by this piece of news. The homecoming couldn't have been more sobering.

Published in the Straits Times, July 12 2005

No cert, so video shown at SDP leader's book launch seized

The police have seized a video that was screened at the launch of a book by oppoistion leader Chee Soon Juan last Saturday.

The organisers had not applied for a certificate to show the Hong Kong-made film, said the police.

The clip - titled July and which documents peaceful protests by Hong Kong people on July 1, 2003, against a proposed national security law - was screened while Dr Chee was signing copies of his new book.

The book, The Power of Courage, advocates the use of non-violent protests and civil disobedience against what Dr Chee described as "unjust laws" here.

The book launch at Grand Plaza Parkroyal was attended by about 50 members of the public, including supporters from Dr Chee's Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Workers' Party.

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"We have more important things to do!", said this unidentified police officer.

Yesterday, a police spokesman said: "During the event, a video disc was screened to the public.

"As the disc did not possess a certificate for its public exhibition, it was seized under the Films Act for investigations."

Asked if he knew that he could not air the film here without a certificate, Dr Chee, who organised the event, said he "didn't even know the video was being screened."

However, a presenter did announce that it would be screened during his autograpgh session.

When queried about the annoucement, Dr Chee said: "You will have to ask the presenter."

The police questioned Dr Chee on Saturday but declined to say if more people were being interviewed. They are still investigating the matter.


Martyn See said...

Police harass guests, organisers at book launch

Country/Topic: Singapore
Date: 12 July 2005
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Target(s): other , media worker(s) , writer(s)
Type(s) of violation(s): harassed
Urgency: Threat

(SEAPA/IFEX) - At the 9 July 2005 launch of the latest book by Singaporean opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, police harassed guests and organisers, reports coming from the city state say.

Plainclothes officers were seen videotaping the proceedings while the Singapore Democratic Party website noted that after the launch, policemen questioned guests and confiscated videos on non-violent protests screened during the event.

On 11 July, a report on said Chee's book, "The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore through Non-violence", was launched with a public talk at Singapore's Grand Plaza Park Royal Hotel. About 50 people were in attendance, the online news site said, and "police arrived after receiving word that video images had been screened."

Todayonline said the video was of "Hong Kong residents protesting peaceably against a proposed anti-subversion law." The footage was projected onto a screen as Chee autographed copies of his book.

Police spokesperson Victor Keong was quoted by the news site as saying, "During the event, a video disc was screened to the public. As the disc did not possess a certificate for public exhibition, it was seized under the Films Act for investigation."

Singapore maintains restrictions on public assemblies, even as licensing rules for indoor public talks were apparently eased last year. Todayonline noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his National Day rally, said he wanted to encourage greater freedom of expression.

Singapore, however, keeps all mass media on a short leash. Government officials earlier this year pulled a documentary on the life of Chee from a film festival. Chee himself faces bankruptcy proceedings in Singapore after being charged with defamation over criticisms he aired against the government when he ran for a parliamentary seat last year. The government, meanwhile, controls virtually all major print and broadcast media, and closely monitors content on websites based in or pertaining to Singapore.

soci said...

seems like someone has uploaded the documentary again. I am having probelms downloading it for some reason.