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A Singaporean filmmaker on Wednesday complied with a government order to remove a political film from video sharing site YouTube but said others were defiantly spreading it on the web.
Martyn See said he was ordered by the information ministry to to take down all digital copies of the film from YouTube and his blogsite by July 14 or face up to two years in jail and a fine of 10,000 Singapore dollars (7,100 US).
The banned video titled “Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore” is about a rare public talk in 2009 by Lim Hock Siew, a leftist medical doctor and activist held from 1963 to 1982 during then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s rule.
“I have received notices that the film has been downloaded by anonymous netizens who have already, or are in the process of, uploading it to various video sites such as (Vimeo),” See told AFP in an email.
“Although I remind all that it is criminal offence… to possess or distribute the film, I have no wish, nor the means, to hinder the viral spread of the video,” said See, who has had previous brushes with the authorities.
“As such, I hereby declare that the film is no longer in my possession, and its ownership will from now on be given to all citizens of the Republic of Singapore,” added See, a 41-year-old professional video editor.
In a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts said the 22-minute film was submitted to government censors for classification but it was banned “as it is against the public interest.”
“The film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Dr Lim?s arrests and detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1963.
“The Singapore government will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore?s interests in the past, to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities, give a false portrayal of their previous activities in order to exculpate their guilt, and undermine public confidence in the government in the process.”
In his memoirs, Lee Kuan Yew — now an adviser to his son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — wrote that the 1963 police raids that landed Lim in detention were part of a crackdown on communists.