Sunday, March 13, 2005

Film on CSJ withdrawn after warnings of possible criminal charge

Dear friends,

Film on Chee Soon Juan withdrawn after warnings of possible criminal charge
I received a call at 1800 hours yesterday 11 March 2005 from Ms Lesley Ho, programme director of the Singapore International Film Festival, to advise me to withdraw my short film "Singapore Rebel" which chronicles the civil disobedience acts of opposition activist Dr Chee Soon Juan.

She told me the following :

1. That the Board of Censors may deem the film to be a violation of the Films Act, and that the crime carries a $100,000 fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.

2. That I should agree to a withdrawal immediately because the Board of Censors had wanted an answer by yesterday.

3. That the Singapore International Film Festival has had a good track record for supporting local filmmakers.

4. That I should not make an issue out of this.

5. That if I disagree, "they will come after you, Martin."

Based on the above, I dutifully agree to withdraw Singapore Rebel from the Singapore International Film Festival.

Does this mean I will not be charged for a crime? Does it mean the film is now banned? Does it mean the police will not raid my home to confiscate master tapes? Does it mean that by posting this message here, I am "making an issue" out of this?

I really don't know.

I had asked Ms Lesley to send me an official email regarding the matter. No email has been received as of today.

For information on film censorship in Singapore, go to

For information on laws governing media and films, go to

In 2003, local broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia aired a two part series on the life of Lee Kuan Yew. The documentary included PAP rally speeches, interviews with Singapore dissidents, shots of opposition figures and Lee's musings on politics and governance.

In the meantime, I should recommend all of you to support the Singapore International Film Festival. Known for their cutting-edge selection of socially and politically conscious films, as well as and films exploring sexuality, this year's programme include films on

a) Iraqi perspective on Iraq War
b) Vietnam
c) Evolution of a Filipino Family from Marcos-era martial law to 1987 People's Power
d) HIV carriers in Papua
e) Gigolos in Beijing
f) The selling of pirated DVDs in China
g) Punk rock culture in China
h) Palestinian-Israeli conflict
i) The Kurds after Saddam
j) The life 1960s Indonesian activist Soe Hok Gie

See Tong Ming, Martyn
12th March, 2005

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