"In the wrong hands film can have a powerful impact"
- Former Information and Art Minister George Yeo, 1998
Of course Mr Yeo did not mean that in the right hands, film will have negligible impact. In fact, no other country recognises and honours the value of filmmaking more than Singapore. That the potent combination of moving pictures and sound can influence minds, document reality and propel the nation forward is not lost on our nation's leaders.
For example, in his most important speech of the year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong used video clips to exhort Singaporeans to strive for a higher standard of service. The audience responded favourably to the two short clips "Tau Gay Not Enough" and applauded wildly when animated fireworks exploded in the the skyline of an artist impression of Marina Bayfront.
The ever-efficient Singapore police force also recognises the value of filmmaking in documenting evidence. In my video 'Singapore Rebel,' there were scenes of plainclothes police officers filming members of the public outside the Tanglin Police Station. Here in this picture, a young officer in civilian wear practises his camera skills at the book launch of opposition figure Chee Soon Juan.
Even the tools used for filmmaking is honoured by the Singapore authorities. In their investigation into my video 'Singapore Rebel', the police has asked that I hand over all tapes and even the camera to them. The video camera does not store images on its own. It requires cassette tapes to record and store these images. That the police would want to seize an empty video camera, is to my mind, their endorsement of the power of filmmaking. First the tapes, then the camera and finally the filmmaker himself..
Update : My tapes and camera were handed over to the police at the Police Cantonment Complex at about 6.45 pm this evening. When asked if I can get my camera back soonest, ASP Chan said "No promise."