Activists discuss censorship and civil disobedience

Huddled in a little room in an art gallery in Jalan Besar, a group of civil society members came together to watch a couple of short films made by Mr Martyn See and Mr Ho Choon Hiong.

But this was not your regular film festival where the scissors of state censors have cropped out PAP-incorrect material to ensure the viewing comfort of the public. More than 50 persons from the arts, human rights, gay, legal and opposition communities gathered last Saturday evening to watch three films about protests and the Singapore Democrats.

The ensuing Q&A quickly turned to the current political situation in Singapore and what the future holds. Mr See led the discussion and pointed out that without greater political activism from civil society, political change in Singapore will remain elusive.

He cited the Malaysian example where NGOs and even the legal fraternity played an instrumental role in the big gains that the Opposition made at the polls.

Mr Ho Choon Hiong agreed and cited how laws, such as the Films Act, contributed towards the crippling of the democratic process.

Mr Alex Au jumped in and said that a group of bloggers are working to ensure that the Government does not clamp down on the blogging community. He also called for the Films Act to be abolished.

Co-organisers of the event, Mr Isrizal and Mr Seelan, recounted how the police had tried to harass them by calling them up for questioning about their work. Apparently the intimidation has backfired as the two artists are more determined than ever in speaking out.

Still there were signs of nervousness among some in the audience with all the talk about democracy and civil disobedience. But the overall mood was unmistakable – if the PAP thinks that it is going to roll over the younger generation of Singaporeans like they did the previous ones, it had better think again.

For a more detailed report of the event, please see: