Monday, April 10, 2006

Zahari's 17 Years awaiting approval from censors

Zahari's 17 Years is now before the Board of Film Censorhip, awaiting clearance for screening as a non-finalist entry of the Singapore International Film Festival short film competition. It is one of two short film entries yet to be given a rating by the authorities.

Subject to clearance, Zahari's 17 Years is scheduled to be screened at the following.

4pm, April 16 Sunday
163 Penang Road, #05-01
Winsland House 2

I am optmistic it will pass the cut. Reason is here.

Said Zahari, a former leftist activist, shows his latest memoir in front of his books collection at his home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 25, 2006. Said Zahari, who was arrested in 1963 and detained without trial by Singaporean authorities for 17 years has written a memoir detailing his experiences as a political prisoner and hopes the book will provide a different perspective of the political events that shaped Singapore's road to independence in 1965 and its first decades of nationhood. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Former political prisoner says he's not bitter despite 17 years in
Singaporean detention

Associated Press Writer

Apr 8, 2006

SINGAPORE (AP) - In the twilight of his life, a former leftist activist who was arrested in 1963 on suspicion of plotting violent acts and detained without trial for 17 years says he bears no ill will toward Singapore.

"I don't have this sense of vengeance, or feel bitter about what happened to me. Singapore is my country, I love it," said Said Zahari, an ailing 78-year-old who lives in Malaysia. "I only wish that it will become a more open society."

Said also wants young Singaporeans to get another perspective on the often tumultuous events that shaped the road to independence in 1965 and Singapore's first decades of nationhood under the ruling People's Action Party.

The party, gearing up for parliamentary elections soon, still dominates. Lee Kuan Yew, the man who led the party at the time of Said's arrest, remains a powerful force in politics. He transformed Singapore into a regional center for finance and manufacturing, while maintaining a tight grip on society and politics.

Said has written a memoir about life as a political prisoner. A Malaysian publisher will launch the English-language version of the book in Malaysia next month.

Said wants his book to be distributed in Singapore, and a previous political memoir by him is available in at least one Singaporean bookstore and the national library. In a statement, A.R. Madeei, assistant director of publications at the state Media Development Authority, said Said's book, like all imported publications, would be "subject to the laws of the land."

Such laws include prohibitions on publications deemed objectionable on moral, racial or religious grounds, or detrimental to Singapore's national interests.

"The book deals mostly with our lives in prison, those political detainees arrested together with me, and others following that," Said said in a telephone interview from Malaysia.

He said some detainees were beaten and deprived of sleep for days, and that he and other inmates held a three-month hunger strike.

"I wanted the younger generation of Singapore to know the other side of history," he said.

Singapore's longest-serving political prisoner, Chia Thye Poh, was jailed without trial for 23 years from 1966 for alleged communist activities. International human rights groups often protested the detention.

The Home Affairs Ministry had no comment about Said.

British colonizers gave self-government to Singapore in 1959. In the early 1960s, authorities arrested left-wing politicians, trade unionists and Chinese students involved in strikes and rallies, accusing them of being violent subversives planning a communist state.

Said was detained on Feb. 2, 1963, hours after he was appointed president of a left-wing party.

Singapore, which was planning a merger with what later became Malaysia, said the swoop was aimed at individuals threatening to use violence to sabotage the proposed amalgamation. The detainees were jailed under a colonial-era law allowing detention without trial.

Said, who denied the accusations, was held for years, sometimes in solitary confinement, after the merger failed in 1965 and Singapore became independent.

"In solitary confinement, you're deprived of everything. You don't know if it's morning or noon or night, and you've no one to talk to for days, weeks and months," he said.

"So I talked to myself, as if I was dictating to a tape recorder, about my life, about what I did. By doing so, I had relief of the tension in my mind."

He also missed the birth of his youngest daughter and when his wife had breast cancer.

"Those were the days when I felt so horrible to see things happening outside, things happening to my wife that I couldn't do anything about," said Said, his voice low and gravelly.

Said was released in 1979, at age 51. A stroke in 1992 left him reliant on a walking stick and prompted his move to Malaysia, where his children had relocated.

There, he began his memoirs. The new book, entitled "The Long Nightmare: My 17 Years in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison," is the second installment of a planned trilogy he is writing in the book-lined study of his home in Subang Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur.

"In some ways it is sad that young Singaporeans don't know who he is, largely because of the way the history of Singapore post-1965 has been a history of the victors," said Chua Beng Huat, a sociologist at the National University of Singapore.

Young S'poreans need to know more about post-1965 history: PM Lee

By Joanne Leow, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : More needs to be done to educate young Singaporeans about Singapore's founding fathers and its post-independence history, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary of Raffles Junior College and the official opening of its new campus in Bishan, he said this was one way to help young Singaporeans stay committed to Singapore.

One of the top junior colleges in Singapore, RJC has produced many top students and high flyers.

And with its spanking new premises and independent status, it wants to create more opportunities for its students..

PM Lee said: "But RJC's mission is not just to produce brilliant students who can compete with the best in the world. More importantly, RJC must also nurture a leadership team for Singapore - students who are committed to Singapore and their fellow Singaporeans, because they have benefited from the system, and have a genuine desire to give back to society and make a difference in the lives of others."

The Prime Minister says he hopes all young Singaporeans will get a better sense of their country's history.

In fact, the syllabi in History and Social Studies is being updated to teach the younger generation more about Singapore's founding fathers and its tumultuous post-independence past.

Mr Lee said: "We now have a lacuna, a gap, in the generation of Singaporeans who were too young to know our pioneering leaders first-hand and, at the same time, too old to have learnt the modern syllabus. Hence when Mr Rajaratnam passed away recently, many Singaporeans in their 30s and younger admitted they knew little about who he was and what he had done."

In fact, it was only in the last 6 years that more post-independence history was taught.

This was because the government felt that more time need to have passed to allow for an objective, historical perspective of the events which happened. - CNA/ch


juz said...

yo martyn,

has the film been cleared for screening this sunday? and where do we get tickets? :p


Ken said...

hi how can i get my hands on your latest film? i've just watched singapore rebel and it is a fantastic film. i like it very much. please keep doing what you are doing, its brilliant.