Monday, 22 September 2014

To Singapore, with Love 星国恋

Update 7 Jun 2017: Police investigating MRT ‘silent’ protest
SIlent-940x540
Activists in Singapore stage silent protest to commemorate 30-year anniversary of Operation Spectrum. Image via Jolovan Wham

SINGAPOREAN police are investigating a “silent” protest which reportedly took place on a Mass Rail Transit (MRT) train on Saturday, local reports said.

According to Channel News Asia, the authorities confirmed they were looking into the case after a police report was lodged on the matter.

On Saturday, a group of demonstrators reportedly gathered in an MRT train to protest against a series of arrests and detentions that took place 30 years ago under the Internal Security Act.

read more

1987: Untracing the Conspiracy
untracing 3
Debunking a 30-year-old Conspiracy

30 years on, details of the Internal Security arrests codenamed Operation Spectrum have only just come to light, first in Teo Soh Lung’s book, Beyond the Blue Gate, and more recently, in Jason Soo’s film, 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy.

The documentary can be viewed on Youtube.

On the 30th anniversary of this event which had a chilling effect on Singapore’s civil society, we would like to invite you to join us in an endeavor for restorative justice and reconciliation.

read more

Review: To Singapore, with Love

Sitting on a porch in Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Ang Swee Chai recalls that in 1977, when her husband Francis Khoo’s arrest was imminent, she had suggested that they get married – “that way I could at least visit him in jail”. Soon after their swift wedding, amidst threat of arrest and indefinite incarceration, they fled Singapore. Decades later, reality loomed. “It dawned on me that I was going to die alone in London… I want to be in 100A Upper Serangoon Road,” she says softly. Swee Chai has returned to Singapore just once — on a single-entry permit, carrying her husband’s ashes.

The men and women in Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore, with Love are courteous in their painful recounting of the circumstances that forced them to leave their country of birth – four, maybe five decades ago. They instantly remember their dates of departure – long ago now. Their stories are factual, fragile and yet wistful. A lifetime of pent up yearning and loss has surprisingly not left them despondent. The grace and detail of their spirited, candid narratives taped conversationally at home, on streets and in offices, make this film intimate and engaging. True to Ms. Pin’s oeuvre, there are no gratuitous mood shots in this film; superfluous music is not necessary to pull at our heartstrings – the clear, penetrating words suffice.

“I knew that they had to get rid of me,” says the professorial, Oxford educated lawyer Tan Wah Piow, in a matter-of fact tone. He left Singapore after serving a jail term of one-year for blowing the whistle on what what he perceived as gross labour injustice. During that time he saw the forcible and complete dismantling of the university student union he had been an integral part of.

related: Appeal to reclassify rating of "To Singapore, With Love" Rejected

read more

Premiers in London
Local film To Singapore with Love premièred in London to great fanfare on 27 October 2014, with an attendance list of mainly young Singaporeans eager to watch a film about their homeland and also to see first-hand for themselves what the fuss was about

As our country nears its fifth decade, it is important for us to assess our journey holistically. The good, the bad, the ugly should all be duly acknowledged. That is the only way we can move forward. We need to recognise that in the making of Singapore, we all played a part.

Giving due credit to all the roles played by others does not negate the role played by the People’s Action Party. Singapore is big enough for all our views.

The making of our nation is not a childhood fable that requires a black and white hero or villain. Communists, socialists, activists, opposition party members have all played vital parts in the formation of Singapore and we cannot deny them their place in history. Nor can we rob Singaporeans from having a holistic version of history. How can we celebrate fifty years if only one side is represented?

read more

The making of a new political folklore
The photo accompanying this report depicts an exodus of over a hundred Singaporeans marching in good spirit from one campus of SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies) to another venue some twenty-five minutes walk away to catch “To Singapore With Love”. Despite the inconvenience caused, and delay of the screening by some fifty minutes, there was no complaint from the unusually patient and accommodating crowd determined to have their first taste of the forbidden fruit

Although there were two visiting Tans to London this October, it was not Tony the President, but Pin Pin the director of the banned film “To Singapore With Love” which caused all the excitement amongst Singaporeans.

The newly installed High Commissioner would have certainly loved to have had flag waving Singaporeans line the streets of Buckingham Palace to welcome the President, but that did not happen. Singaporeans, including some who attended the President’s State Banquet, were preoccupied with finding tickets for the oversubscribed must see film.

Reports elsewhere in TOC and even The Straits Times have given testimony of the sensational responses to the screening of the banned film at other sites in London. The 27 and 28 October screening of a banned Singapore film is not just unprecedented in Singapore cinema history, it will also become a part of Singapore’s political folklore. The event was organised by the SEA Arts Festival.

read more

The truth from a Singapore exile
My leaving Singapore was a heart breaking decision for me. I had to leave as I believed my personal safety was at risk

After “To Singapore With Love” was banned in its home country, the Minister for Information and Communications Dr Jaacob Ibrahim had projected in his parliamentary statements on 7 October a notion that the People’s Action Party government is squeaky clean and that it has done absolutely nothing wrong that would cause the exiles to leave.

Meanwhile, the film was accused of containing “one-sided portrayals” designed to “evoke feelings of sympathy and support for individuals”. All this is supposed to endanger Singapore’s security and formed the basis for the film to be banned completely.

Are the above statements justified and fair?  As one of the exiles, I would like to set the record straight.

read more

Let's talk about the past openly, warts and all

Now that the Government is republishing the transcripts of the broadcast, should it not try to generate as much interest as possible?

Here's one idea: remove the prohibition on Tan Pin Pin's film, To Singapore, With Love.

It would make the Battle for Merger come alive.

read more

Why public screening of film not allowed

EDITOR at large Han Fook Kwang lobbied for lifting the prohibition on the public screening of Ms Tan Pin Pin's film, To Singapore, With Love ("Let's talk about the past openly, warts and all"; Sunday).

He argued that Mr Lee Kuan Yew's The Battle For Merger would interest the public only if it contends with alternative accounts of the same period.

In fact, persons from all sides of the ferocious fight between the communists and non-communists have already been having their say.

read more

Yale-Singapore college criticism reignited by ban of film
Yale-NUS College students during Comparative Social Institutions lecture. Photo courtesy of Yale-NUS College

The controversy over Yale University’s joint college with the National University of Singapore, in which critics charge that Yale should not be in cooperation with the city-state’s authoritarian regime, was recently reignited over a documentary banned by the government.

Yale-NUS had planned to show “To Singapore, with Love,” which features a number of Singaporean exiles, after notifying the Media Development Authority, which had rated the film “Not Allowed for All,” keeping it from public view but allowing its screening on university campuses.

To Yale University faculty, who had voiced their disapproval of the Yale-NUS venture after it was approved by the Yale Corporation, this was another sign that Yale should have stayed out of Singapore in the first place.

related: Court's decision raises concerns about freedoms at Yale-NUS

read more

Allowing exiles film is “like allowing Jihadi terrorist groups” to show film publicly
What is strange about Mr Yap’s explanation this time round is his analogy that Ms Tan’s film is akin to a “Jihadi” film

In its latest attempt at explaining why the film by Tan Pin Pin, “To Singapore, With Love”, is not allowed to be shown in public settings, the press secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs minister, said this is because allowing it “would be like allowing jihadi terrorist groups today to produce and publicly screen films that glorify their Jihadist cause.”

Mr Yap Neng Jye, the press secretary, was writing to the Straits Times’ forum page on 14 October.

His letter more or less regurgitated what various ministers have said in recent weeks about the film – that it is a “threat to national security”, and that it contained “self-serving” views and claims by the protagonists, alleged former members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).


Press Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs: Why public screening of film not allowed

Unlike a book, a film can more easily arouse emotional responses and reach a wider audience. To allow public screening of a film that obfuscates and whitewashes an armed insurrection would effectively condone the use of violence in Singapore and harm our national security.

It would be like allowing jihadi terrorist groups today to produce and publicly screen films that glorify their jihadist cause.

For these reasons, the film received a classification that disallowed public screening. Individuals can still view it in private screenings, if the copyright owner of the film allows it.


To Singapore, With Love 'contains untruths about history': Dr Yaacob

Tan Pin Pin's To Singapore, With Love is not a historical documentary presenting a factual account, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 7). The film's "one-sided portrayals" are designed to "evoke feelings of sympathy and support for individuals" who in reality chose to leave Singapore and remain in self-exile, he added.

Dr Yaacob said the film gives a misleading account of these individuals' past, and makes no attempt to present an objective account of the violent Communist insurrection that they had participated in and have not renounced.

"The film To Singapore, With Love contains untruths and deception about this history. Therefore it received an appropriate classification which disallowed it for public viewing," the minister said in response to questions posed by various MPs, including MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng and Nominated Member of Parliament Kuik Shiao-Yin.


Documentary on S’pore exiles a ‘self-serving personal account’, says PM
Communists should not be allowed to present an account of themselves through a film that glosses over facts, he says

In the wake of the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) decision not to allow for local distribution or exhibition a documentary about the lives of Singapore exiles, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was yesterday asked about conditions under which the more controversial parts of Singapore’s past could be discussed normally.

Responding to the question from political analyst Gillian Koh following Mr Lee’s speech at the National University of Singapore Society 60th Anniversary Lecture, Mr Lee called the Communist insurgency that began in 1949 a violent struggle that should be seen within the historical context.

He said the Communists had cast their armed struggle for power as a quest for democracy, and that this was a matter of historical record that is not seriously disputed, except by some academics. “Why should we allow them, through a movie, to present an account of themselves not of documentary history objectively presented, but that is a self-serving personal account, conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over inconvenient facts and others, which will sully the honour and reputation of the security people and the brave men and women who fought the Communists all those many years in order to create today’s Singapore?”


Exiles in 'To Singapore, with Love' shouldn't get chance to air 'self-serving' accounts: PM
Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin before the screening of her latest film " To Singapore With Love" at the 11 @ Century Hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Sept 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

THE political exiles featured in a documentary that cannot be shown in public or distributed here should not be allowed the chance to air their own "self-serving" accounts of the fight against communism, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday night.

He did not budge on the Government's decision on local filmmaker Tan Pin Pin's "To Singapore, with Love", even as she awaits the judgement of the Film Appeals Committee.

He was responding to a question from Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh, on the conditions under which the more "controversial" points of history can be discussed. She brought up Ms Tan's film, speaking of a common base on which to build a "sense of historical consciousness" that can help define the future as well.


Why PM Lee's remark on banned film 'To Singapore, With Love' is hard to understand
Tan Pin Pin is still waiting for the decision of the Film Appeals Committee over the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) decision to classify her film To Singapore, With Love as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR). But things aren’t looking good, if Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comments are anything to go by

Responding to a question following his speech at the National University of Singapore Society 60th Anniversary Lecture, PM Lee dismissed the film as a “self-serving personal account”. He also stated that a film was more problematic than books, as films could come across as more convincing.
“You write a book, I can write a counter book, the book you can read together with a counter book. You watch a movie, you think it’s a documentary (and) it may be like Fahrenheit 9/11 — very convincing, but it’s not a documentary. And I think we have to understand this in order to understand how to deal with these issues.” - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as quoted by TODAY
It’s a strange argument that I’m struggling to understand. Content can be presented in various mediums: through books, articles, films, plays, paintings, art installations, etc. People then have the option of choosing which medium they would prefer to consume.

related:


Banned Film Director Takes on Singapore Authorities

A Singaporean filmmaker is appealing a ban of her documentary about her country’s political exiles.

In Tan Pin Pin’s film “To Singapore, With Love,” the director profiles nine political activists who left the city-state starting in the 1960s through the 1980s because they were threatened with jail time. According to the film’s publicity materials some haven’t returned to Singapore in over 50 years.

The documentary was set to screen in Singapore last month when the country’s Media Development Authority announced that the film was being pulled due to national security concerns. The exiles profiled in the movie gave “distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore,” the agency said in explaining the decision.

read more

PM LEE "EXPLAINS" WHY TAN PIN PIN'S FILM "TO SINGAPORE WITH LOVE" SHOULD BE BANNED

He was asked for his views on MDA’s NAR classification of the film
  • “Why should we allow through a movie to present an account of themselves not of objectively presented documentary history, but that is a self-serving personal account, conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over inconvenient facts than others which will sully the honour and reputation of the security people and the brave men and women who fought the Communists all those many years in order to create today’s Singapore?” said Mr Lee.
  • “A movie is different from a book. You write a book, I can write a counter book, the book you can read together with a counter book,” he added.
  • “You watch the movie, you think it’s a documentary, it may be like Farenheit 911, very convincing but it’s not a documentary. And I think we have to understand this in order to understand how to deal with these issues.”
He stressed the importance of viewing the issue within a historical context, which was “a Communist insurgency, in fact an armed insurrection in which thousands of people were killed. The movie is essentially about some of these persons who were involved – in fact six of them still live or did live in the peaceful village in Thailand,” he said.


MDA, Let the People Judge

Technically, the MDA classified the flim as “Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR),” which is simply a nice euphemism for the word ban.

To justify their classification, MDA said that the flim was a threat “to national security and the stability of Singapore” as “a number of these self-professed ‘exiles’ were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).” This was also seconded by Yaacob, who added that “the truth of the matter was that many of them, by their own admission, were members or supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya which sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime.”

Firstly, some of these exiles were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Operation Coldstore and Operation Spectrum as they were believed to be Communists and Marxists respectively. One has to remember that these allegations have never been proven as the alleged Communists and Marxist Conspirators who were detained were never even given a trial, let alone a fair one. So, there has been no evidence produced in court that these people were indeed Marxists and Communists. On the other hand, historical research, especially from the declassified British documents have proven these claims to be false and have exposed the ulterior motive of the arrests.

related:
Let the people judge
The chapter of Singapore’s history the PAP doesn’t want you to know

read more

ALFIAN SA'AT: PM LEE, YOU ARE JUST AFRAID THAT YOUR 'TRUTH' WILL BE EXPOSED AS LIES


"A movie is different from a book."
No way, really? But let's try to figure out what you're saying here. I think you're expressing two fears here. One is that the movie medium is capable of greater emotional manipulation than books, possibly because it has at its disposal certain extra elements that can arouse emotion--like music, and images. Oh, how you underestimate the power of text alone. (Ever read a break-up SMS?) But never mind. The other fear is that movies generally reach a wider audience than books, and we'll give you that. This kind of scaredy-scaredy is the hantu that has been lurking in the MDA offices for years.
"You write a book, I can write a counter book, the book you can read together with a counter book."
Oh, that's not what you meant. Gave you too much credit there! I'm starting to get confused here. How does this statement link to the one before? Because "you make a movie, I make a counter movie, the movie you can watch together with a counter movie" also holds true. Are you saying that people who read a book will then actively seek out another book that contradicts it, whereas those who watch a movie will not? Do you really think that all those who read your father's memoirs also read 'Lee's Law', 'To Catch a Tartar', 'A Comet In The Sky', 'Dark Clouds At Dawn', 'Beyond The Blue Gate', 'Escape From The Lion's Paw' etc?
"You watch the movie, you think it's a documentary, it may be like Farenheit 9/11 - very convincing, but it's not a documentary."
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary. It may be one-sided and polemical, but because it uses interviews with real people involved in real events, this makes it a documentary. The same thing with 'To Singapore With Love'--'Tan Wah Piow', for example, is a real person once arrested on charges of 'rioting', and not Jack Neo playing 'Tan Wah Piow', an astronaut who was the first Singaporean to land on the moon. No right-thinking person watches a documentary thinking that because it is labeled as such, then you have to accept everything in it as the truth. We live in an age where people are sophisticated enough to enjoy the choreography between truth and fiction in a mockumentary like 'Borat', for example.

Tan Pin Pin resubmits documentary for MDA classification

Film-maker Tan Pin Pin has re-submitted her documentary "To Singapore, With Love" to the Singapore authorities for classification.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Oct 2), Ms Tan said the film, about Singaporean political exiles, remains unchanged in content. She said she resubmitted it to the Media Development Authority's (MDA) Films Appeal Committee on Sep 30.

Earlier this month, MDA had given the film a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification, which means it is not allowed to be screened in public or distributed.

read more

Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin weighs options to appeal decision on banned documentary
Over 400 people showed up for the screening of documentary "To Singapore With Love" by Singaporean filmmaker Tan Pin Pin at 11@Century Hotel in Johor Baru

Singapore-based filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, whose documentary To Singapore, With Love was banned by the island republic, has yet to decide whether she will submit an appeal to reverse the decision.

Tan said that she was too preoccupied with the screening of the film, which focuses on political exiles, during the 2014 Freedom Film Fest in Malaysia, to think about the matter
"I was disappointed when I heard about the ban as I really wanted this film to be seen.
"This is the first film that I had shot, produced and directed, and I just put in what I felt would make the story full," she told reporters here yesterday.

related:


FILM BANNED: REAL THREAT OR JUST WOUNDED PRIDE

Singapore authorities are afraid the film will embolden citizens and students to stand up for their rights. A ban on a film is usually counter-productive. Borrowing a phrase from Heineken, a ban on a film has the effect of reaching the parts other films cannot reach. Singapore is a country which people around the world look up to. That is why the move to ban director, Tan Pin Pin’s award-winning film, “To Singapore, With Love”, proves that the government of Singapore is desperate, vindictive and afraid. Ironically, Singapore has ambition to be an Asian film and cultural hub.

Desperation makes people take desperate measures. In a world made smaller by Internet and social media, the banned film will now be viewed by more people than if the government had approved it for screening. The ban has inadvertently given the film a boost and generated much publicity, across the globe. As the government of Singapore (and other autocratic nations) will discover, a ban makes people curious. Ordinary Singaporeans are like other human beings. They will want to know what it is that they have been stopped from seeing. They will become interested and want their curiosity sated. When books are banned, a pdf version almost always pops up in cyberspace. When a film is banned, most people will attempt to find a copy of the film, to see it and judge for themselves, why the film failed to receive government approval. The documentary “To Singapore, With Love” gives us a glimpse into the lives of nine Singaporeans, some of whom left the island in the early 1960s. One has since died, but many have not returned, simply because they would be refused entry to Singapore or like one political pundit said, “They can return…and be escorted straight to prison.” The book “Escape from the Lion’s Paw”, sparked filmmaker Tan’s quest to find out more about the Singaporean dissidents, and to film their lives in exile.

The statement released by the Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA) said that the film was judged to “undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals”.


For Yale in Singapore, It's Deja-vu All Over Again

Once again, the liberal-arts college in Singapore to which Yale has given its name, prestige, energy, and talent finds itself dancing awkwardly with the government over a right that liberal education depends on and should foster: the right to show Tan Pin Pin's documentary film, "To Singapore With Love," which criticizes Singapore's way of turning political and artistic citizens into exiles.

Early this month, Pericles Lewis, president of the so-called Yale-National University of Singapore College, announced that a class in the college would exercise that right by showing the film. But last week Yale-NUS announced that it wouldn't, supposedly because Tan Pin Pin had withheld "permission."

Journalists at the Yale Daily News, an independent student newspaper in New Haven, are making clear that that's not the whole story. To understand why, first take a look at its context.


I Went to Malaysia to Watch A Film Made In Singapore About Singapore’s Political Exiles Because The Film Isn’t Allowed Be Publicly Screened in Singapore

Tan Pin Pin’s film ‘To Singapore With Love’ summed up in less than 50 words:
a few communists, some ex-PAP men & women, a student activist-turned-Oxford-educated lawyer, a Gaza activist and a folk singer walk into a cinema and tell their story to a camera. What they all have in common: they all want to go home.
So I was part of the three busloads of people (and many others who found their own way) who rode form Singapore to Johor Bahru to watch To Singapore With Love, the latest film by Tan Pin Pin, and the latest film which the Media Development Authority of Singapore has given the very special rating of ‘not allowed for rating’ so it cannot be screened publicly in Singapore as it may be a threat to national security. It was just as well Malaysia’s amazing Freedom Film Festival 2014 was organizing a screening of it in JB as part of the Johore leg of their festival.

They needed two hotel function rooms to fit all of us. The filmmaker would later tell us how the film festival volunteers were cutting up bed sheets that very morning to stick to the walls to make the screens. Some of us sat on the floor. The chairs were reserved for seniors. Most of the people who came on our buses were either seniors, many of whom had some connection to the people in the film, or people in their 20s or 30s. There probably would have been a greater range of ages if the film had been screened over a weekend because of people with jobs, but it was cool to see a lot of young people because, you know, the future.


Singaporeans flock to JB to watch banned movie
Some Singaporeans are planning to travel to Johor Baru to watch a little-known documentary film on Singapore's political exiles, with one student organising a chartered bus service for the event

They were spurred into action by the Media Development Authority's (MDA) decision to disallow public screenings of To Singapore, With Love here.

The MDA said its contents "undermine national security" and classified it as Not Allowed for All Ratings. That means the film, by local filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, 44, cannot be shown in public or distributed here.

Among those whose interest has been piqued by the MDA's action is sales manager Louis Khoo, 30: "I didn't know about the film before MDA made its decision. And now that we're told we can't watch it here, everyone wants to watch it."


Defiant Singaporeans view banned film in Malaysia
Filmaker Tan Pin Pin

Hundreds of defiant Singaporeans protesting censorship gathered in Malaysia on Friday to see a documentary banned by regulators in their home country as a threat to national security.

The film, "To Singapore, with Love", examines the case of political exiles in the city-state and features interviews with nine former activists, student leaders, and self-confessed communists who fled Singapore from the 1960s until the 1980s and are currently settled in Malaysia, Britain and Thailand.

Organisers estimated 400 people watched the screening, saying most of the audience was made up of Singaporeans who had crossed the border to view the production in the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bharu.


Singaporeans arrive for Johor Baru screening of documentary To Singapore With Love
Crowd in Singapore going to the film screening in Johor Baru from Queen Street Bus Terminal on 19 Sept 2014

The majority in the queue were students, but a few working adults took the day off to catch film-maker Tan Pin Pin's documentary titled To Singapore With Love. It is being screened at a hotel in Johor Baru, one of four cities where an annual Freedom Film Festival is being held

Some Singaporeans are planning to travel to Johor Baru to watch a little-known documentary film on Singapore's political exiles, with one student organising a chartered bus service for the event

They were spurred into action by the Media Development Authority's (MDA) decision to disallow public screenings of To Singapore, With Love here. The MDA said its contents "undermine national security" and classified it as Not Allowed for All Ratings. That means the film, by local filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, 44, cannot be shown in public or distributed here.


No public screening of film on political exiles: MDA
Singapore film-maker Tan Pin Pin

A documentary film on Singapore's political exiles is not allowed to be screened in public or distributed in the country because the Media Development Authority (MDA) says it distorts the legitimate actions of security agencies as acts that victimise innocent individuals.

The film, To Singapore, With Love, by local film director Tan Pin Pin, was given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the MDA yesterday. But a "purely private" screening is allowed, MDA said later when asked by The Straits Times.

In the 70-minute film, Ms Tan interviewed nine Singaporeans on why they fled the country, what their lives are like now and their feelings towards Singapore.


MDA bans film on political exiles
A documentary by award-winning film-maker Tan Pin Pin on Singapore political exiles cannot be shown or distributed here because its contents "undermine national security"

The film, To Singapore, With Love, has been given a Not Allowed for All Ratings, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said yesterday.

"MDA has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals," said MDA.

Ms Tan's documentary explores the lives of Singaporeans living in exile - some for as long as 50 years - in places like London, Thailand and Malaysia.


Classification for documentary on Singapore political exiles means it cannot be shown here
Filmaker Tan Pin Pin (L) and producer Yuni Hadi

A documentary film on Singapore political exiles who fled the country has been given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification because its contents "undermine national security", the Media Development Authority said in a statement on Wednesday

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has classified the film "To Singapore, With Love" as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR). MDA has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals. Under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating.

The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore. A number of these self-professed "exiles" were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). The CPM sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime. One of the interviewees in the film claimed that he had no choice but to join the CPM after he left Singapore when in fact, he was an active CPM member even before he left Singapore. Indeed, as another interviewee who left Singapore in similar circumstances admits, a number of Barisan Sosialis activists then were already members of the Malayan National Liberation League, the CPM's political wing, before they fled Singapore with its help and subsequently joined the communist guerrilla forces. In another attempt to white-wash their security histories, two of the individuals in the film conveniently omitted mentioning the criminal offences which they remain liable for, like tampering with their Singapore passports or absconding from National Service.


Singapore filmmaker did not agree to Yale-NUS screening of ‘To Singapore, with Love’
Yahoo Newsroom - The film "To Singapore, with Love", directed by Singaporean director Tan Pin Pin has been banned in Singapore. The Media Development Authority said its contents undermined national security. (Photo credit: To Singapore, With Love official page)

Singapore filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, whose film was recently banned by the Media Development Authority, said on Friday that she did not agree to a private screening of her documentary “To Singapore, with Love” at Yale-NUS.

Yale-NUS reported on Thursday in the Yale Daily News that they would screen the banned documentary during a course later in the semester.

Yale-NUS, a liberal arts college in collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Yale University, said it was “pressing ahead” with plans to show the banned film, which documents the perspectives of Singapore from the country’s political exiles. Tan said in a Facebook post, “We have not agreed to any Singapore screenings, private or institutional. We have written to the news outlet to correct the article.”


MDA gives institutes of higher learning leeway to screen To Singapore with Love
The Media Development Authority is giving leeway to institutions of higher learning to show films that are restricted or not allowed, including To Singapore With Love

It also said it has accepted a request from the Yale-NUS College to screen the film on Singapore's political exiles, for classroom teaching and discussion only.

The 70-minute documentary, by local film-maker Tan Pin Pin, 44, received a "Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR)" classification from the MDA last Thursday.

That was because the film's contents "undermine national security" and distort the legitimate actions of security agencies as acts that victimise innocent individuals, the MDA had said.


Yale-NUS shelves plan to screen To Singapore, With Love
The poster for To Singapore, With Love, which has won the director multiple international awards

Yale-NUS College has shelved its plan to screen To Singapore, With Love after a request to screen the documentary in a class was rejected by film-maker Tan Pin Pin.

The liberal arts college had managed to get the green light from the Media Development Authority (MDA) because the screening was for educational purposes. Last week, the MDA had given the film a Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR) classification, which means the film is barred from being exhibited or distributed here.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, a Yale-NUS College spokesperson said it had planned to show the 70-minute film in its documentary film course. “(Ms Tan) has indicated that she will not be holding any screenings in Singapore at this time. We respect her decision and hope to have the opportunity to share the film with our students when it becomes available for such viewing,” the spokesperson added.


Yale-NUS to show banned film

Despite a national ban in Singapore, Yale-NUS is pressing ahead with its plans to show a film that has been deemed by the Singaporean government as a threat to the country’s security.

The film, “To Singapore, with Love” documents the lives of nine Singaporean exiles — among them trade unionists, communists and student leaders — and was slated to be shown at the National University of Singapore Museum at the end of the month. But earlier this month, Singapore’s Media Development Authority classified the film as NAR, or “Not allowed for all ratings,” claiming that it unfairly suggested that exiles are being denied their right to return to the country. The categorization prevents the film from being shown or distributed in the city-state of 5.4 million.

“By doing this, MDA is taking away an opportunity for us Singaporeans see it and to have a conversation about it and our past that this film could have started or contributed to,” Tan Pin Pin, the filmmaker, said in a statement. “Now, the irony [is] that a film about Singapore exiles is now exiled from Singapore as well.”


Statement by civil society on MDA’s decision to ban local film, “To Singapore, with love”
Chan Sun Wing reads his poem about changing to Thai citizenship in “To Singapore, With Love”

On 10th September 2014, Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that it has classified a local film, “To Singapore, With Love” by Singaporean film maker, Tan Pin Pin, as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR).

The statutory board said that it has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals and said that under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating.

A group of individuals have come together to pen a statement in response to MDA’s banning of the film, stating that the censorship of the film does nothing to promote a vibrant, informed society and urge MDA to reconsider its decision.


Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore, With Love gets rave reviews

The Awards the film has won so far:
  • Winner, Best Director, Muhr Asia Afria Documentary Awards. Dubai International Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Asean Documentary, Special Mention, Salaya International Documentary Festival
  • Winner, Asian Cinema Fund, Busan International Film Festival
related:


Tan Pin Pin's film To Singapore, With Love not to be shown in public

The Media Development Authority of Singapore on Wednesday (Sep 10) decided that local film director Tan Pin Pin's work To Singapore, With Love will be classified as "Not Allowed for All Ratings".

In its statement on Wednesday (Sep 10), MDA said it had assessed the contents of the film, and decided that it undermined national security. It added that legitimate actions taken by security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

"The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore," the MDA stated. "A number of these self-professed 'exiles' were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM)."

read more


To Singapore, with Love 星国恋

Straits Times' headline today about the screening "Exiles film ok for classroom use" is misleading. It may give the impression that special permission was given to just this film.

Actually, this MDA exception for institutes of higher learning for films that it has banned or gotten an R21 rating has always been in place. However, the film must be part of a class' syllabus. TODAY's headline is more targeted "Yale-NUS shelves plan to screen To Singapore, with Love".

But why still on the Yale-NUS non-issue? very yesterday. - the real headline is this "Defiant Singaporeans view banned film in Malaysia."!!


To Singapore, With Love banned by MDA

At first glance, the title of Tan’s film reads like that of a National Day song, and cleverly chosen too. The last time a NAR rating was slapped on a local film was Sex. Violence. FamilyValues for racist themes, which was eventually toned down to a R21 with cuts. It’s unlikely that Tan Pin Pin’s nuclear warhead of a film that threatens our very NATIONAL SECURITY would get emasculated likewise. Another local firebrand known for featuring political ‘agitators’ is Martyn See, whose film on Chee Soon Juan‘Singapore Rebel’ was unbanned in 2009 after 4 years on the blacklist. His other documentary, Zahari’s 12 years, was banned in 2007 for ‘distorting’ Said Zahari’s detention and arrest for ‘communist united front activities’ by the ISD in 1963. Today, you can find both See’s films on Youtube. The country has yet to explode to kingdom come since these were uploaded.

Tan herself was questioned by THE POLICE during the crackdown on See’s Singapore Rebel in 2005, after she, along with 9 other filmmakers, wrote a letter to the forum asking the government where the ‘OB markers’ lay when it comes to political films. Not as renown as household names like Jack Neo, Royston Tan or Anthony Chen, Tan is also the creative force behind ‘Singapore Gaga’ and ‘Invisible City’, both critically acclaimed as quirky odes and mirrors to the ‘real’ Singapore.

Unfortunately in the case of a touchy subject like political detainees and ‘commies’, shit just got too real for the PAP to handle. Yaacob even tried to paint them as disloyals who ‘chose to leave’ Singapore. It was either surrender to an absurd charge and suffer endless heckling or flee. To these detainees, there was never a ‘choice’ in the matter.


Singapore Bans Film Featuring Political Exiles Saying it ‘Undermines National Security’
Photo from official website of the film

Singapore's top media regulator has forbidden the public screening of the documentary ‘To Singapore, With Love’, claiming ”the contents of the film undermine national security.” The 70-minute documentary by independent filmmaker Tan Pin Pin featured interviews with political exiles, most of whom have not returned to Singapore in 35 to 50 years.

To Singapore, With Love has been screened in other countries and has received positive reviews at several film festivals.

Some of the exiles featured in the film were activists, opposition leaders, and communists who challenged the leadership of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in the 1960s and 1970s. The PAP has continued to be in power since then, for about 50 years. According to PAP, Singapore became a prosperous city state by surviving and defeating a communist plot to overthrow the government in the 1960s.


Classification for film on political exiles, To Singapore, With Love, means it cannot be shown here

A documentary film on Singapore political exiles who fled the country has been given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification because its contents "undermine national security", the Media Development Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

This means the documentary, To Singapore, With Love, by award-winning filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, cannot be exhibited or distributed here.

Ms Tan's documentary explores the lives of Singaporeans living in exile - some for as long as 50 years - in places like London and Thailand. It was submitted for classification in May by the National University of Singapore Museum.

read more

related: Alex Au’s articles ‘risked undermining confidence in judiciary’
Justice Belinda Ang reserved judgment on the case

The two articles published last year by blogger Alex Au Wai Pang — which were at the centre of a court hearing today (Oct 21) to determine whether he was in contempt of court — were not fair criticism and posed a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) argued.

The AGC also charged that the articles are baseless attacks against the authority of the court and have crossed the legal line.

But Au’s lawyers Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi contended that his actions were in good faith, to encourage debate and discussion on issues of public importance. They added that the AGC’s case relied heavily on innuendo, insinuation and imputation — which do not make a contempt charge.

related: Alex Au vs AGC – a matter of liability or good faith?

read more

NSP: ESTABLISH A PUBLIC INTEREST DECLASSIFICATION BOARD
"A clear understanding of our nation’s history is key to building a strong, unified nation. A Public Interest Declassification Board will serve to plug the gaps in our collective social memory, thus playing a vital role in nation-building"
Earlier this month, the PAP Government launched a reprint of ‘The Battle for Merger’, a compilation of speeches made by Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1961 and originally published in 1962.

In his speech at the book’s launch, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that book would “provide a reality check” to attempts by some historians to recast the role played by communists and their supporters on the issue.

“They portray the fight as merely a peaceful and democratic disagreement over the type of merger. They ignore the more fundamental agenda of the communists to seize power by subversion and armed revolution,” he said

related:
The chapter of Singapore’s history the PAP doesn’t want you to know
NSP: Establish a Public Interest Declassification Board
NSP appeals against permit refusal for party paper

read more

The Singapore Daily: To Singapore, Without the Love from MDA
– Guanyinmiao’s Musings: A Curious Expression Of Insecurity
– Chemical Generation Singapore: To Singapore, With Love, And Denials
– Dewdrop Notes 露语: Book And Counter Book
– Singapore Notes: Watch His Lips
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: “From JB with Love”
– Karen Chua: Open Letter to Ho Juan Thai
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Thanks Yacoob, Ms Koh
– Beyond The Emotive: Let The Vanquished Tell Their Tales
– Jess C Scott: To Singapore, With Love
– Bertha Harian: Danger: bad film
– Everything Also Complain: To Singapore, With Love banned by MDA
– Blogging for Myself: Banning Tan Pin Pin film
– Ariffin Sha: MDA, Let the People Judge
– Singapore Notes: Telling It Like It Is

read more

Battle for Merger radio talks a 'crucial move': PM Lee
If Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the non-Communist side lost, Singapore's history would have been totally different, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

The radio talks that Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew gave were a crucial move in winning the hearts and minds of the people. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this in a Facebook post on Saturday (Oct 11), after visiting the Battle for Merger exhibition at the National Library.

The exhibition showcases the compilation of the 12 radio talks first published in 1962, that has now been reprinted.

Mr Lee said the radio talks led to Singapore joining Malaysia, then separation and today's independent Singapore. It told the inside story of the fight between the non-Communists and Communists, and explaining to Singaporeans what was at stake. He said had Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the non-Communist side lost, Singapore's history would have been totally different.

related: Reprint of The Battle For Merger launched

read more

The Singapore Daily: Alternative History
– Singapore Notes: His Story
– Unravelling 1987: From London with Love
– Nostalgia: Battle For Merger
– Bertha Harian: Whose story is history?

read more

Singapore’s ‘Battle for Merger’ Revisited
The merger issue

2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of Singapore’s separation after almost two years of being part of the Federation of Malaysia (16 September 1963 – 9 August 1965). The event is marked as the day when the island gained independence. The British colonial rulers formally relinquished its residual power over Singapore’s defence, foreign affairs and internal security to the newly-formed Federation of Malaysia when merger came into effect. Reunification was the aspiration of its people as the island was severed in 1946 by the British after being part of the Straits Settlements for 120 years, save for the Japanese Occupation (1942-45).

However the merger scheme which Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP government concluded with the Federation of Malaya government’s Tunku Abdul Rahman was an outright failure. It is thus curious that for the official celebration of SG 50, the PAP government should choose to highlight the 12 radio broadcasts that Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister made between 13 September and 9 October 1961 which was published as The Battle for Merger (1962). The book was reprinted in 2014, with much official hype but no new insights. The deputy prime minister and concurrently coordinating minister for national security and minister for home affairs who launched the reprint, stressed the importance of the PAP’s push for the 1963 merger thus:
"It was a time when momentous decisions had to be made for Singapore. A wrong decision then would have been calamitous and Singapore might still be trying to shake off the dire effects today."
The 1963 merger was a wrong decision. The disastrous outcome was foreseen by the opposition Barisan Sosialis.  We wanted reunification with Malaya, but NOT on the terms that Lee obtained. Those simply could not work. They did not address the fundamental ethnic issue which was handled differently in Malaya and Singapore. The Alliance, the ruling party which dominated Malaysian politics, was an alliance of ethnic-based political parties. It had control of Singapore’s internal security through the internal Security Act (ISA) which provided for detention without trial. The PAP had accepted that Singapore would have fewer seats than its population size warranted, weakening its representation in the Federal government.

read more