Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Singapore filmmaker surrenders tapes, camera to police

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.

1 comment:

Martyn See said...

http://www.todayonline.com/articles/69634.asp

Hot News // Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Film about SDP chief seized as police investigate if it breached Films Act

David Chew
david.chew@newstoday.com.sg

HE made a film about Mr Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and now his work has been confiscated.
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Documentary film-maker Martyn See surrendered his equipment and six tapes of his production, Singapore Rebel, to the police on Monday evening.
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He was asked to hand in the tapes following a three-hour interview with the police at the Cantonment Police Complex last Thursday. On why Mr See's tapes and video camera were seized, police spokesman ASP Victor Keong said: "Following a complaint lodged by the Board of Film Censors that a film produced by Mr Martyn See has breached the Films Act, the police took follow-up action to investigate."
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The Films Act bans political advertising using films or videos as well as movies directed towards any political end, such as promoting political parties.
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ASP Keong added that on Aug 29, the police had received two copies of the film from Mr See, 36, some raw footage and a digital video recorder. After the investigations are completed, the matter could be referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers.
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If convicted, Mr See faces the possibility of being jailed for up to two years or fined $100,000.
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A freelance video editor, Mr See said he did not mind the authorities seizing his tapes. "I don't mind because I feel it's relevant to the investigation, but I had asked if they could look at my video camera on the spot as I need it for work," he said.
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He has since borrowed one from his friends to work with.
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His 26-minute documentary about Mr Chee has been banned on the grounds that it is a "party political film". However, a San Francisco website notes that the film has already been downloaded 270 times.
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Mr See said he had made the film to further his own understanding of opposition politicians in Singapore, noting that he documents "social and political issues" on video.
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"I wanted to find out Chee Soon Juan's motivation, as to why he does what he does," he said. "The film does not contain a single mention of SDP and it portrayed Chee Soon Juan as an isolated figure who breaks laws deliberately."
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So he is waiting to learn if his effort still qualifies as a political party film.
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"As for now, life still goes on. But my heart beats a little faster these days."