In 1996, the SDP produced a 20-minute video to explain our policies and platform to Singaporeans. The Government promptly banned it.$CUT$
Two years later in February 1998, Mr George Yeo, then Minister for Information and The Arts, moved to amend the Films Act to ban political videos. This is what he said in Parliament then:
I would now like to talk about the special amendment to ban party political films. In 1996, around March, Dr Chee Soon Juan of the SDP wrote to BFC (Board of Film Censors) to ask whether he required a licence to distribute political videos. BFC said yes. Then he submitted an application. This is the first time anything of this sort had happened in Singapore…
The Chairman of the Board of Film Censors, sensing that this is a new area, referred the matter to the Ministry and asked for policy guidance…
But if we allow this medium, what happens? We will all become entrepreneurial. There will be any number of PR men in Singapore or foreign consultants offering their services to us. You know, in America, it is an industry and they are very good at it. It is an art form…
Do not make it show business. (emphasis added) Keep it to an encounter of ideas so that Singaporeans will decide whom to vote for, whom to represent them in this House on the basis of ideas.
Because it was a very serious matter, I put it up to the Cabinet. We had a discussion in the Cabinet. Then my Ministry issued a policy instruction to BFC to say, “Look, we should not allow the making and distribution of political films.” So the SDP’s application was turned down.
Of course, the video was banned because it was the SDP’s. Fast forward 20 years, it even allows a musical to be made about the PAP’s (late) founding secretary-general. Did Mr Yeo say something about “show business”?
This long lost video about the SDP has never been shown. It will be screened – 20 years belatedly – at our exhibition cum discussion.
A Look Back – 35 Years of Democratic Service
Date: 21 June 2015, Sunday
Venue: Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium (the old Glass Hotel)
Seletar Room, Level 3, Outram Road
Free admission. All are welcome.