SINGAPORE (AP) - The Singapore government said Saturday politically motivated films were "an undesirable medium'' to debate issues, as a documentary filmmaker faces possible charges over a movie about an opposition politician.
Martyn See is under investigation for "Singapore Rebel,''
[Click the image to view Singapore Rebel. The movie appears to have been taken off.]
a 26-minute movie about Chee Soon Juan, a frequent critic of the government. Police said See may have violated the Films Act for knowingly distributing or exhibiting a "party political film.''
He could be fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (US$60,606; euro46,200) or imprisoned as long as two years if he's tried and convicted.
"Party political films are disallowed because they are an undesirable medium for political debate in Singapore,'' the Ministry of Information's communications director K. Bhavani said in an open letter published in the local Straits Times newspaper Saturday.
"They can present political issues in a sensational manner, evoking emotional rather than rational reactions,'' Bhavani said. [Singaporeans are denied emotions?] "There remains ample opportunity for political parties and their supporters to express their opinions.'' [Where?]
Bhavani's letter was an apparent reaction to See's yet-unscreened movie, and a letter from a group of Singapore filmmakers who castigated the country's laws, which appear to ban any movie criticizing government policy.
See made his maiden film independently and said he wanted to "chronicle the civil disobedience acts of Chee Soon Juan.''
Chee currently faces bankruptcy after he was ordered to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (US$303,000; euro236,275) to Singapore's former prime ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, for defaming them during an election campaign in 2001.
"Singapore Rebel" was earlier yanked from the Singapore International Film Festival _ one of the country's showcase events to promote itself as an arts hub.
But See said his movie will be screened at other venues later this month _ the New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival and the Amnesty International Film Festival in Hollywood.
Singapore, a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state, is widely criticized for its tight controls on political activity and the media.-AP
Undesireable unless the Peoples Action Party desires it.
Section 40 of the Films Act says:
"This Act shall not apply to any film sponsored by the Government."
That is, any film sponsored by the Singapore government is perfectly fine, even if it contains obscene material or explicit political content. And as if that wasn't enough, they also put this in the Act:
"The Minister may, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, exempt any person or class of persons or any film or class of films from all or any of the provisions of this Act."
So any film can be exempted if the Minister likes the film. In other words, even if a film is bursting with political messages, the Minister can still allow the film to be imported, sold, distributed and exhibited - no problems whatsoever - as long as the Minister likes those political messages.
More details regarding the Films Act.