Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Government Response to AIMS Recommendations

January 9, 2009

You can read the full report (18 pages) here.  Basically, the government has accepted 17 of 26 proposals from AIMS, the most significant of them being the phased liberalisation of the ban on party political films.  However, it’s not a full liberalisation either (bolded emphasis my own):

As a first step under the phased approach, the Government will amend the Films Act to allow for certain types of party political films. Films that are factual and objective, and do not dramatise and/or present a distorted picture will be allowed under the amended Films Act. These will include factual documentaries and footages, recordings of actual events, and biographies or autobiographies.

The question that comes to mind is regarding the policing of the content in any “factual” footage.  For example, what if someone uses his cellphone camera and records footage of a politician’s speech at the Speakers’ Corner and the politician expresses opinions that are deemed to be “distorted” – does that run afoul of the law?  One way to address this would be to set more specific guidelines for what is deemed to be a party political film.  Hence, the government has accepted the proposal for the setting up of an independent advisory panel to advise on whether a film is a party political film:

The Government also accepts the AIMS’ recommendation to set up an independent advisory panel which will make up of citizens of high standing and who are non-partisan. The role of this panel is to advise the Board of Film Censors whether films are party political films and if they can be allowed under the amended Films Act.

The advisory panel will be chaired by Mr Richard Magnus, retired Senior District Judge and Chairman of the Casino Regulatory Authority.

A quick Google search shows that Mr Richard Magnus was the senior district judge who presided over the sentencing of the two racist bloggers under the Sedition Act.

Overall progress, yes, but let’s wait and see for the specifics of the amended Films Act as well as the list of the “citizens of high standing” who will form the rest of the independent advisory panel.

[For a more detailed explanation of why the Films Act’s ambiguity can be dangerous for the everyman, read Yawning Bread]

Best of exchanges from Lee vs. Chee in court

May 30, 2008

As covered in the international press, there is quite a war of words going on in court, between Chee Soon Juan, leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, and Lee Kuan Yew, former PM of Singapore and former leader of the ruling party of Singapore, the People’s Action Party.

Background: Chee is facing defamation charges from the Lees because of his remarks that the Singapore government is run like the corrupt regime of the National Kidney Foundation. In court hearings over the past few days, Lee Kuan Yew has personally taken the stand and faced questioning from Chee himself.

Since coverage of this court case will be scant in the local media, I’ve compiled a “best of” list of quotes from the exchanges in court between Chee and Lee, just so you can hear it from the horse’s mouth.

From the defendant, Mr. Chee Soon Juan:

“Mr. Lee, we get to meet at last.”

“I couldn’t make this up, even if I wanted to, how much justice has been gagged, bound up, kicked, raped, quartered, and then, at the very last moment, the dagger plunged right through,”

“I may remain a bankrupt for the rest of my life as a result of my obstinacy. It is not a position one aspires to, but it is a cause I find worthy of battle and a call, though sometimes I may resist, I will ultimately trust and obey.”

“I cannot deny that I get angry and even bitter with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew over the things that he has said and done to me and others. But through the years, I have seen the bigger picture and developed a sense of calm and equanimity that comes with knowing my role in society.”

[To Lee] “I don’t hate you, I feel sorry for you. I think you cut a pitiable figure.”

“You will sue me over and over and over again, and continue to make me work to make the money to pay you back so that I cannot concentrate on doing the political work to be able to overcome this system which you have put in place – a system that is undemocratic, a system that abuses the rule of law, a system to ensure that you and your party perpetuate its hold on political power.”

Plaintiff, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew himself:

“He’s a liar, a cheat, and altogether an unscrupulous man. I could also add that I’ve had several of my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct, tell me that he is near-psychopath.”

[In response to Mr Ravi, Chee’s lawyer, asking MM Lee if he would consider mediation (instead of litigation)] “It is so bizarre a question, I will need [biblical King] Solomon to be revived, and I do not believe Solomon can mediate between a psychopath and sane, rational people.”

“They [the people of Singapore] know me by now, that if anybody impugns the integrity of the government, of which I was the prime minister, I must sue.”

“The final test is what Singapore was when I became prime minister in 1959 and what Singapore is now. We had less than $100 million in the kitty. [Today,] global financial services assess Singapore to have sovereign wealth funds of over $300 billion.”

“If you want to have any influence, you must get into Parliament. You have disqualified yourself, you cannot participate in any elections, and as long as you stay in that sterile state, you have muted yourself politically, in a constitutional way. And by every further action, as the damages go up on you, the longer the number of years you’ll be disqualified… Unfortunately, Dr Chee, you have not seen the point.”

[On Mr Chee’s lengthy questioning of LKY’s integrity] “One reason why we have allowed this altercation to go on is because we are leaning over backwards to allow you enough rope to tie yourself up. And you have successfully done that. You have a guillotine, you know you have the time of two hours, and you’re wasting it, frittering it, because you’ve nothing of substance to confront me with.”

“So, at the end of the day, we have had this confrontation face to face. Have you thrown any dirt? Have you dug up any scandal? Are you still saying, as you said before, that this Government is run like the NKF?”

Film on LKY seized by MDA during SDP screening (woah, acronym overload there)

May 21, 2008

SDP organized a “private screening” of a film about LKY.  Films in Singapore are subject to the Films Act, which states that the making or screening of any film about Singapore politics is illegal, and will have very dire consequences for anyone involved.  Obviously SDP, given their political kamikaze mentality, didn’t give a rat’s ass about this and went ahead with the screening.  Someone at MDA then gets a tip off about this, and they converge on the event in the middle of the screening.  Obviously a conflict ensues, and thanks to technology, it is all on YouTube for us to see.

In the video, Ms. Chee (Soon Juan’s sister) is seen in a confrontation with MDA officials, and ultimately, a plainclothes policeman in a video. Ms. Chee already has a whole series of YouTube videos on her run-ins with Big Brother, but this one might be the most entertaining by far (second only to the “I’m going to the hotel for coffee” one), because the MDA officials’ faces all turn super chao-bin when they get the “this is my right” and “what is reasonable” diatribe from Chee.

From some WP Remix site (you can watch the videos of the confrontation at the site):

Film on Lee Kuan Yew seized by MDA
Posted by Buzz on May 19th, 2008

It was a private screening but that didn’t stop officers from the Media Development Authority (MDA) from seizing a copy of the film, “One Nation Under Lee”, at the Tulip Room in the Peninsular Excelsior Hotel.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) screened the film to an audience of about 70 people, who paid $20 each to attend the lunch-cum-film event on Saturday, May 17.

The film, produced by activist and artist Seelan Pillay, was a narrative of how Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew subjugated various institutions in Singapore, such as the press, under the government’s control during his time as Prime Minister. It also depicted how the social divide in Singapore is a result of the People’s Action Party’s policies. The film included interviews with former Solicitor General Francis Seow, political detainee Said Zahari, opposition politician JB Jeyaretnam and scenes of various public protests which had taken place in Singapore.

Twenty minutes into the screening, three officers from the MDA, one of whom identified himself as “senior assistant director” Mr Tan Chiu Kee, arrived and demanded that the organizers stopped the screening and handed over the film. They were met outside the door of the room by Ms Chee Siok Chin and other SDP members and supporters.

The officers explained to Ms Chee that they were contravening the Films Act, which stipulates that any film intended for public exhibition must be submitted to the MDA for a licence. Failure to do so would incur a fine of $100 for each copy of the film in possession. Whether the SDP had committed any other offence is unclear as the MDA officers did not say.

The SDP explained that since the screening was already taking place, the officers should allow it to go on and the SDP would hand over the film then. The officers refused and at one point warned the SDP that they were “obstructing justice”.

The MDA officers then called in the police who arrived for a brief period. They left after the SDP agreed to hand over the film. By this time, the screening of the film had ended.

The copy of the film was then handed over to the officers who also asked for the dvd player used to screen the film.

The event continued with Seelan Pillay and film maker Martyn See taking the floor and answering questions from the audience, which TOC understands included two US embassy officials.

During See’s Q&A session, the MDA officers returned again and asked for the LCD projector. The SDP refused. The audience heckled and scolded the officers who promptly left – without the projector.