Category Archives: Media

Singapore Government bans another political film which is ‘contrary to public interest’

The Singapore Government has banned this video recording of a speech by former political prisoner Dr Lim Hock Siew which was filmed by Martyn See . Dr Lim was Singapore’s second longest-held political prisoner.
The prohibition will take effect on Wednesday 14th July 2010. The Government has also asked Mr See to remove the video from YouTube.
In a press release, the Ministry of Informations, Communications and the Arts said:
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 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.
Martyn See’s first film, Singapore Rebel, filmed four years ago, was also banned by the Government. But the censors passed it with an M18 rating in September 2009. It became the first political film to be passed after the Films Act was amended in March to relax the rules on such films.
The press release which Dr Lim mentioned can be found here. Perhaps the Government banned this film because of the potential ramifications it will face by letting the public know it asked Dr Lim to ‘save Lee Kuan Yew’s face’ by saying he was justly detained
The highlight of the exchange between Special Branch and Dr Lim:
Special Branch – You must concede something so that Lee Kuan Yew would be in a position to explain to the public why you had been detained so long. Mr Lee Kuan Yew must also preserve his face. If you were to be released unconditionally, he will lose face.
Dr Lim Hock Siew – I am not interested in saving Lee Kuan Yew’s face. This is not a question of pride but one of principle. My detention is completely unjustifiable and I will not lift a single finger to help Lee Kuan Yew to justify the unjustifiable. In the light of what you say, is it not very clear that I have lost my freedom all these long and bitter years just to save Lee Kuan Yew’s face? Therefore the P.A.P. regime’s allegation that I am a security risk is a sham cover and a facade to detain me unjustifiably for over 9 years.
In his swearing in speech, Prime Minister Lee Hisen Loong said that Singapore is ‘an open society’. So is this what he meant by ‘an open society’? By banning this film and denying Singaporeans the truth? This poor man was declared a terrorist and thrown into prison without trial. As Lucky Tan puts it best:
Dr. Lim tells us that the authorities wanted to extract a ‘repentence’ from him as a condition for his release from detention. Dr. Lim does not need to repent…the people who locked him up for 19 years should be the ones repenting their atrocious inhumance actions.
Download the video before it’s banned. Here are the links:
(h/t: Thanks to Martyn for providing the video download links)

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Filed under Media, Politics, Singapore

The Straits Times: Why I don’t read it

Kristen Han
When Shawn asked me if I wanted to write about why I don’t read The Straits Times, I said yes immediately. I’d never been a big fan of the paper, but I had never had the opportunity to really sit down and think about WHY that was, until now.
The Straits Times, affectionately known by many as The Straits Jacket, has been reporting news in Singapore since before our separation from Malaysia and subsequent independence. For many Singaporeans, it has been a part of our lives whether we like it or not.
When I was in school, teachers encouraged (and when I say “encouraged” I mean more along the lines of “forced”) us to keep up with the news by reading the newspaper at least two to three times a week. We would have to do newspaper clippings to stick in journals to prove that we had done the required reading up of current affairs.
Everyone would come to school with clippings from The Straits Times – and often even the same clippings – not because we were all copying off each other, but because there was no real alternative source for us to get our news (this is before all kids lived and breathed the Internet, by the way – am I showing my age?)
And because there was no real alternative, we had no option but to swallow everything The Straits Times told us whole.
As a kid I always thought that I didn’t like The Straits Times that much because the news was boring. It wasn’t until much later, when I began to explore and read from different sources online, that I realized that the news could be pretty damned interesting if you had good journalists who were unafraid to go digging for the truth and didn’t shy away from sparking intense public debates on issues that matter.
Contrary to my initial belief, “the news” was not an exclusive thing to be bandied about by authority figures and high-brow executives a world removed from myself. “The news” was actually about real things happening in the real world that I could have an opinion about, and that I could actually voice my opinion and maybe even help bring about positive change. It was a great revelation, one that I believe has helped me grow as a person and become more involved in the society I live in.
Unfortunately, I learned none of this from The Straits Times. In fact, I learned all of this from NOT reading The Straits Times, and searching for other sources elsewhere.
On the surface, The Straits Times looks pretty damn good. Articles are (mostly) in good English, the writers are all qualified or experienced, and the paper sells well. It has also won a bucketful of awards, locally, regionally and internationally. The reports don’t read too bad as well, until you look deeper and realize just how much information you’re NOT getting, or how skewed the information can be.
Take a recent ST article as an example: the one published on the 11th of June 2010, reporting on a press conference held at the office of the Malaysian Bar Council in Kuala Lumpur.
At the press conference, M. Ravi, the lawyer of Yong Vui Kong – who is currently on death row for due to drug trafficking – urged Malaysia to intervene in the case. He expressed concern with problems in the Singaporean judicial system. He claimed that his client was being denied an opportunity to appeal to the President for clemency, as statements made by both the former Attorney-General and the Law Minister had implied that the decision to grant clemency has been taken out of the President’s hands, and that the Cabinet has already been prejudiced against Yong. (More information can be found in the article on The Online Citizen)
However, the ST article, ‘S’pore death row case: KL urged to act’, gave very little real information pertinent to the press conference. Instead of delving into reasons for M. Ravi’s actions and addressing his concerns by commenting on the remarks of the former AG and current Law Minister, the article chooses to rehash old information.
It focuses on Yong’s previous appeal for presidential clemency, although the real issue has since moved on. The words read well, but the real information is sparse. Reading the article makes you feel so detached from the issue, although it is something very real and in urgent need of public attention.
The detached, clinical way it reports the facts makes you feel like there is nothing that you can do or say about it, that the issue is out of your hands and none of your business. Just leave it to the big-wigs, you’re too small to have a part of play. But not asking important questions or discussing crucial points, the article subtly discourages involvement and participation, or any real reflection upon the issue. Instead, it further encourages the practice of blind acceptance and passivity.
And that is why I don’t read The Straits Times. When I read about what’s going on in my country, I want to feel like I am a part of it all, and not just an outsider looking in.

The writer is a Film and Media studies graduate who writes regularly for The Online Citizen. You can read her blog here.


Filed under Guest bloggers, Media, Singapore

More does not always mean better

Debra Soon discusses whether the changes to the NMPs and NCMPs scheme will improve the quality of debate in Parliament with her guests Alvin Yeo, a PAP MP for Hong Kah GRC, Goh Meng Seng, the Secretary General of the National Solidarity Party and Dr Gillian Koh, Senior Research Fellow from the Institute of Policy Studies on Talking Point

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Filed under Media, Opposition parties, Politics, Singapore

STOMP, anyone?.

“Singapore’s mainstream media is accurate, timely and balanced in their reporting,

The above statement was made by Singapore’s Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew. Well, I totally beg to differ. Here’s why:


I’m one of the people who follows @stcom (The Straits Times) on Twitter. And I read their website occasionally. And I believe that I’m updated with ‘news’ on how The Undertaker was injured in a fireworks display, or how someone created a ‘fairytale of their wedding. Then we have The New Paper, who’s front page is almost usually, sex scandals and the occasional story of neighbours suing each other because of a parking space.


Oh come on Minister, please don’t tell me you have never heard of  Facebook and Twitter?. They update me with news, credible one at that, as fast as even before you finish saying ‘Parliament’.


Sex scandals, are made to appear that there are 1000 Tiger Woods out there. Need I say more?.

Then again, where else can we get our news from? STOMP, anyone?.


Filed under Media