Singapore arts community urges MDA to reconsider ban on Tan Pin Pin film

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

[UPDATE on Thursday, 11 September at 11:40am: Adding statement from filmmakers' and arts community on ban]

Singapore's arts community issued a collective statement expressing their "deep disappointment" at the banning of a local documentary early Thursday morning and urging the Media Development Authority (MDA) to reconsider its decision.

The film, "To Singapore, with Love" by Singaporean Tan Pin Pin, features political exiles who share their tales and give tribute to the island-nation.

The MDA on Wednesday said it classified the film as "not allowed for all ratings" because of national security concerns.

The group of artists said banning the film will "only reinforce the view that our government is trying to limit discussion around our very own history".

"We would like to emphasise that censorship does nothing to promote a vibrant, informed society," the statement said. "We thus urge the MDA to reconsider its decision."

The statement was signed by 39 individuals, including prominent documentary and local filmmakers like Lynn Lee, Anthony Chen, Boo Junfeng, Royston Tan and Kelvin Tong.

Tan said on Wednesday evening that the banning of her documentary was a lost opportunity to talk about Singapore’s past.
 
In its Wednesday statement, the MDA said the film “undermine(s) 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".
 
"To Singapore, with Love" was slated to be screened together with Tan's other films – Invisible City and Singapore GaGa – in a presentation by the National University of Singapore at the end of September.
 
In a statement on Facebook, Tan said, “Now, the irony that a film about Singapore exiles is now exiled from Singapore as well – this is not something I ever wanted or hoped for.”
 
Tan said she would consider re-submitting the film for a rating in the future.