Sunday, 21 September 2014

Defiant Singaporeans watch banned political documentary in Malaysia

To Singapore, With Love Hundreds of defiant Singaporeans protesting censorship gathered in Malaysia to see a documentary banned by regulators in their home country as a threat to national security.

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Guanyu 道 said...

Defiant Singaporeans watch banned political documentary in Malaysia

Defiant Singaporeans cross border to see documentary on political exiles

Agence France-Presse in Johor Bahru
21 September 2014

To Singapore, With Love Hundreds of defiant Singaporeans protesting censorship gathered in Malaysia to see a documentary banned by regulators in their home country as a threat to national security.

The film, To Singapore, With Love, examines the case of political exiles in the city-state and features interviews with nine former activists, student leaders, and self-confessed communists who fled Singapore from the 1960s until the 1980s and are currently settled in Malaysia, Britain and Thailand.

Organisers estimated 400 people watched the screening on Friday, with most of the audience was made up of Singaporeans who had crossed the border to see the film in the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bharu.

The Media Development Authority (MDA), Singapore’s media regulator, on September 10 banned the documentary, saying it provided a “distorted and untruthful” account of the exiles’ situation. It said the film’s content undermined national security because the “legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals”.

According to the Singapore government, a number of the exiles featured in the film were former members of the Communist Party of Malaya, which had sought to overthrow governments in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Singapore became independent from the Malaysian federation in 1965.

“I am disappointed by the reaction of the MDA, I wish it was otherwise of course … I spent a lot of time making it and really would have liked this film to have been seen [in Singapore],” director Tan Pin Pin told the audience in remarks after the screening.

Tan added that she was weighing her options, including launching an appeal and holding “private screenings”.

The production has been screened at film festivals in Germany, Dubai, South Korea and the United States, and will be shown at the SEA ArtsFest in London in October.

Singaporeans at the Malaysia screening, part of the Freedom Film Fest, said the relatively large turnout by their compatriots - despite the hassle of having to travel to Malaysia - signified indignance in the city-state over the film’s censorship.

“The interest is evident in the number of people here - over 400 who turned up in Johor Bahru on a weekday afternoon,” said 24-year-old university student Lim Jialiang. “After watching the film now, it is difficult for me to imagine why the film had to be banned,” he added.

The 70-minute documentary drew loud applause from the audience at the end of the screening.