Tuesday March 22, 2005
A film-maker has withdrawn his documentary about Singapore's leading opposition figure from the city-state's annual film festival, after the government warned him its political content could land him in jail.From the Guardian Newspaper
Martyn See's short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay S$500,000 (£160,875) to Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defamation during the 2001 elections.
See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore international film festival after the country's censorship board warned him he could be jailed for up to two years or fined if his 26-minute film was screened.
Singapore's the Straits Times reports that the board had also advised festival organisers to remove See's documentary because it was a "party political film." Under Singaporean law, local films that "contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter" are banned, the paper added.
Despite its strictly controlled media, Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as a centre of Asian arts, with the international film festival one of its cultural highlights. Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, on the grounds that it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the south-east Asian country of four million.
Well there goes the promotion of Singapore as a centre of Asian arts. And all despite the recent call for a Singaporean Michael Moore by youth and media conference .
"In attendance was Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam some speakers referred "to how wacky political websites and show business figures such as film-maker Michael Moore led the way in encouraging turnout among young voters during last year's US presidential elections."