Tuesday August 30, 02:26 PM
Singapore filmmaker surrenders tapes, camera to police
SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Singaporean film maker who could be jailed for making a documentary on an opposition politician has surrendered his video camera and tapes to police investigators.
Martyn See told AFP the equipment and six existing tapes of "Singapore Rebel," a documentary about Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, were handed over on Monday evening.
He was told to surrender the tapes, including two master copies, and the digital video camera after police questioned him a second time last week about the documentary.
"I have no idea when they will return or even if they will return at all," See said. "They just said they need the camera and tapes to investigate my case which was violating the Films Act."
Singapore's Films Act bans political advertising using films or videos, as well as movies directed towards any political end such as promoting political parties.
A police spokesman told AFP the investigation was still ongoing.
See's "Singapore Rebel" has been classified by local censors as having violated the act because of its political content, an accusation that the filmmaker rejects.
If convicted, See could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (60,000 US).
He said the documentary was made to further his own understanding about the plight of opposition politicians in Singapore.
While banned at home, his documentary has been screened at two human rights festivals in the United States and New Zealand.
Affluent Singapore has often been criticised by human rights groups for maintaining strict political controls despite its rapid modernisation since becoming a republic 40 years ago this month.
Singapore has been ruled by the People's Action Party of founding father Lee Kuan Yew since independence. His son Lee Hsien Loong promised to loosen political restrictions after taking over as prime minister a year ago from Goh Chok Tong.
Chee, the most vocal opposition politician in Singapore, is facing bankruptcy after the High Court ordered him to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (300,000 US) for defaming Goh and the elder Lee.