Screening banned film in Singapore would be 'condoning' violence used by group: Yaacob

Hannah Teoh
Singapore political documentary "To Singapore, with Love" banned by the Media Development Authority of Singapore. (Photo from Facebook)

Standing pat on the government's decision to ban a documentary on political exiles, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said on Tuesday that allowing the film’s screening would be tantamount to "condoning" the violence used by the group in the past.
 
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (7 Oct), Minister Yaacob said Tan Pin Pin’s documentary “To Singapore, With Love” whitewashed the violent acts committed by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).
 
He said that for four decades from 1948, CPM waged a campaign using violence and subversion to install a communist regime in Malaysia and Singapore.
 
Over 8,000 civilians and security personnel were killed or wounded during this insurgency.
 
“The film’s one-sided portrayals are designed to evoke feelings of sympathy and support for individuals who in reality choose to leave Singapore and remain in self-exile and who have not accounted for their past actions squarely,” said Yaacob.   
 
Minister Yaacob also added that two individuals in the film – Ho Juan Thai and Tan Wah Piow – “conveniently omitted” mentioning the criminal offenses they remain liable for.
 
There are, however, many former CPM members who have been permitted to return to Singapore because they acknowledged and accounted for past actions, noted Yaacob.
 
“To allow public screening of a film that obfuscates and whitewashes an armed insurrection by an illegal organisation, and violent and subversive acts directed at Singaporeans, would effectively mean condoning the use of violence and subversion in Singapore, and thus harm our national security,” he said.
 
Tan Pin Pin’s documentary features interviews with nine former activists who fled Singapore from the 1960s to the 1980s and settled overseas.
 
The MDA banned the film on 10 September, saying it undermined national security by showing legitimate actions of security agencies in a distorted way. Tan, however, appealed the decision. Last Tuesday (30 Sept), she resubmitted the film unchanged for classification to the MDA’s appeals committee.
 
The government’s decision to ban the film drew criticism from the local arts community but has also raised some public interest in it. On 19 September, hundreds of Singaporeans went to Johor Bahru to watch the screening of the documentary there.