PAP bans film on CSJ and warns director

March 23, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Film about Singapore opposition leader pulled after director warned he could be jailed
Associated Press
22 March 2005
http://asia.news.yahoo.com/050322/ap/d88vp3ag1.html

A documentary filmmaker withdrew his movie about Singapore’s leading opposition figure from the city-state’s annual film festival after the government warned the director that he could be jailed over its political content, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Martyn See’s short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars to modern Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defaming them during the 2001 elections.

However, See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore International Film Festival after the Board of Film Censors said he could be jailed for up to two years or fined S$100,000 (US$61,300; ?46,400) if his 26-minute film was screened, the Straits Times reported.

The board had also advised festival organizers to remove See’s documentary because it was a “party political film.” Under Singaporean law, local films that “contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter” are banned, the paper added.

See and festival organizers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Strictly controlled Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as an Asian arts center, with the film festival as one of the city-state’s cultural highlights.

Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, saying it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the Southeast Asian country of 4 million. Last year, censors blocked three films from the festival for scenes it deemed were too sexually.

Singapore film-maker pulls political movie
Staff and agencies
Tuesday March 22, 2005
http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,12589,1443399,00.html?gusrc=rss

A film-maker has withdrawn his documentary about Singapore’s leading opposition figure from the city-state’s annual film festival, after the government warned him its political content could land him in jail.

Martyn See’s short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay S$500,000 (160,875) to Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defamation during the 2001 elections.

See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore international film festival after the country’s censorship board warned him he could be jailed for up to two years or fined if his 26-minute film was screened.

Singapore’s the Straits Times reports that the board had also advised festival organisers to remove See’s documentary because it was a “party political film.” Under Singaporean law, local films that “contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter” are banned, the paper added.

Despite its strictly controlled media, Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as a centre of Asian arts, with the international film festival one of its cultural highlights. Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, on the grounds that it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the south-east Asian country of four million.