7 Aug 2006

'Singapore Rebel' saga ends after police issues 'stern warning'

Reuters report

'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.

Yours sincerely,
Martyn See

A Happy 41st Birthday to Singapore.

Dissent is not disloyalty.

A summary of the Singapore Rebel saga


Anonymous said...

the tactic in the white elephant case, gomez case and this case is the same

steve chia was also let off with a warning, but the cause was quite different

Anonymous said...

i have worked some projects with Singapore, Malaysian and HK governments and this is my experience typically...

They can all articulate what you CANNOT do or say. but none will offer what works, nor give advice as to how any work you do can meet their requirements.

I think its just a civil servant mentality.

Matilah_Singapura said...

I wonder if the cops ever feel stupid doing these things — hassling the citizens they are supposed to protect, with the silly nonsense from the paranoid minds only found in government bureaucrat.

In my frequently judgemental and bigoted mind, I have an idea of the kind of individual I lavish this "stereotype" on.

He or she is the kind of asshole who's agenda in life revolves around power, and its use to fuck with the lives of anyone and everyone.

Anonymous said...

i guess the idea of a politcal film depends on the power-to-be. maybe if See had made a film on one of the minister, show them kissing babies, time with family, playing happy dad/mum, he might have won a cultural medallion in the near future... i wonder if any MP had the moral to bing up the issue in parliament and askd MICA what constitute a politcal film and set the record straight.
forget about the singapore renassiance...which was cooked up and trumpted few years back...a cultural desert we have ..mirage..here we see.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are out of their radar, for the moment.

It was an amnesty/ National Day Special. Furthermore, they must keep up their 'xiaos' for the IMF/World Bank Exploitmeeting. Things will change drastically after these two major international showcases.

Basically, if there was no reason other than barbaric/autocratic nepotism at work, then there is no reason to even give in the first place. Trust me, I grew up with these types where they think everything they say is always right. Time and history are their best judges.

Meanwhile, you should leave with your family; seek asylum for safety

Inquisitor said...

The problem with the people in your 'state' (pun intended) is that they are so bereft of intelligent and novel input and the solutions and perspectives that may be garnered by keeping abreast with global affairs that they tend to rally around the most simplest manifestations of disaffection whether they are insightful or not - i.e. james gomez, mr brown, etc. Besides this, an additional selling factor for the produce of the disaffected, and which is most appealing to the minds interned in your locality, is that of encouraging laughter at your political condition rather promoting the need to tackle it with long-term and straight-faced resolutions and resolve. That is why, for instance, the likes of 'Mr Brown' can come to the fore of the public (lack of) imagination. The overly-vaunted Mr Brown says nothing original or insightful that is not unknown to anyone of below-average or average intelligence and awareness. And yet, this individual is celebrated by the disaffected population.

If you take these seemingly disparate events into account, you will realise that humour, where problems have YET to be adequately resolved or institutions put into place that serve as a check on the powers-that-are-allowed-to-be (i.e. like in the UK), is the opiate via which the unacceptable is made palatable. People learn to laugh at their decrepit plight rather than to allow the disaffection to fester till it reaches a critical and active level. Laughter and humour, when applied within such conditions, simultaneously serves as a laxative for stress whilst facilitating apathy and learned helplessness. Instead of festering in portentious silence or/and indignation, one laughs away the accumulated stress and is politically disembowelled in the process.

The 'opposition' in your country is infirm at best - given the general uncritical climate of your country and the assimilation of all experience into a culturally, and thus, perspectivally singular one. And by 'opposition', I refer not to those parties that stand against your elected representatives but the critical faculty of the general population's intellectual persona that is unable to serve as an analytical and counterpositional check, or supply viable or inquisitive/sceptical enough input, to 'oppose' with an intelligent array of perspectives any oppositional or propositional position - thus, the emergence and prominence of oppositional 'heroes' such as JG, MB, etc.

I do take a look at your region every now and then and find it most interesting how intellectually backward a 'first world' nation such as yours can be given the globalised state of the planet. My advice is, s/he who wants to wade in local politics must first immerse oneself in the more challenging 'global' one. The perspectives and strategies learnt will serve admirably well when taking on what will cease to be 'difficulties' in the local arena.

note: it would be interesting to observe if the above instigates a negative reaction by readers on the basis of its being forwarded by a 'foreigner'. Perhaps, it would be better received if i had substituted 'your' for 'our'? I have included this 'note' at the end so as to allow the reader to experience the above and gauge the extent to which s/he is able to evaluate issues objectively.

Anonymous said...

>instigates a negative reaction

no; it is too hard to understand

(I am also a foreigner)

jeen said...

Oh, is that what a 'stern police warning' looks like? I'd thought for that the police would give you a picture of tiny proper Wong Kan Seng complete with his most fiercest stare in his most dapper specs..

So if I were you, I'd use that piece of paper as a dart board!

Anonymous said...

Only in a police state does the police align itself politically with the ruling party. And that's why they see all political opponents of the ruling party through the prism of disloyalty.

Anonymous said...

In actualfact , they have no case, but the police action was actually an intimitation, on instructions by the pappy govt to serve a warning to others who might follow the path. Bringing charges to See,Gomez or Brown would make them the laughing stock of the first world, ie if they see ourselves as one.

Anonymous said...

that's actually not the main consideration; a trial might mean too much information being publicized; recall GCT being trapped by the british QC into admitting that, despite defamation, his vote in Marine Parade went up

the trial of Castro made him an irresistable figure dometically and internationally...

Anonymous said...

chede should bring in one of London's leading QC's one of the new brilliant young barristers. Put LKW in the witness box and they would carry out the poor bugger in a body bag. look at the damage george carman, alas now dead did to the prick goh chock Tong.

Eastern legal brains cannot match westrern legal brains.

but the problem lies in the fact the pap would not be able to stand cross examination from a real lawyer, not the little pricks who practice in this island.