'Singapore Rebel' [26 mins] saga ends after police issues 'stern warning'.
After 16 months of investigation, three interrogation sessions, 120 questions, and not discounting a covert round of interviews with some friends and associates, the police has finally decided to close their case against me.
It all ended under 10 minutes at noon today at the Cantonment Police Complex. Seated at the interview room where I had expected yet another round of questioning, I was instead informed by Assistant Superintendent Chan Peng Kuang that upon the conclusion of their investigation, the police has decided to issue a warning in lieu of a prosecution. The camera, seized in August last year, will be returned to me. The tapes, however, will remain in police custody unless I should make a formal claim. After two minutes of wrangling a deal, which included my suggestion that the police donate the footages to the National Archives, I decided not to make a claim for the tapes, considering that it would be subjected to an undertaking whereby should any of the footages be distributed, I would be called in for investigation once more. The police now reserves the right to destroy the tapes, as they do, I suppose, for seized pornographic material.
I was then ushered to a "warning" room where another officer arrived to read out the warning letter. I stood like a schoolboy in front of the principal's desk, only that the officer's delivery was more perfunctory than stern.
This whole episode has been rather surreal, but no less worrying (I still haven't told my mother about it). It would have been out-of-whack in any First World nation, but it actually did happened in modern-day Singapore - the production of one short video featuring an opposition figure sparked off a ban, a police inquiry and much undue publicity for everyone involved. If the censors had cleared the film, it would have been screened to an audience of no more than 80 people, and not all of them would be interested or much less impressed with its content. It would have died a natural death not long afterwards. But by banning it and subjecting its filmmaker to police investigations, the Media Development Authority has created a publicity monster for themselves, precipitating a seemingly amenable remark from the Minister Mentor himself.
And it gets even more surreal, if one considers the fact that amid all the questioning from the police, I still haven't been told exactly how 'Singapore Rebel' had breached the Films Act.
Where do I go from here? I've obviously crossed the OB (out-of-bounds) markers of expression in Singapore. As much as I like to find my way back to stay within its limits, it's mightily difficult when these boundaries, already amorphous as they are, are constantly shifting back and forth, catching off-guard just about anybody with an opinion deemed contrary to "national interest."
Finally, just a note of irony - I'm finishing up an edit for Jack Neo's new comedy, slated for a Chinese New Year release, entitled "Just Follow Law!"
And may all the wishes of anyone who had generated a single moment of kind thought toward this whole saga be fulfilled.
A Happy 41st Birthday to Singapore.
Dissent is not disloyalty.
A summary of the Singapore Rebel saga