Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Distortion Of Reality

Perhaps they are afraid of another round of self radicalisation among youths in Singapore. The speech of Dr Lim Hock Siew, 79, was made on 14 November 2009. Yesterday the Government decided to ban a video recording of the speech, effective tomorrow. The prohibition will make it an offence for anyone to distribute the video or possess a copy of it. If YouTube.com is cowed by this threat, today could be the last opportunity to view it on the Net.

The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) cited grounds that it gives "a distorted and misleading portrayal" of Dr Lim's detention under the Internal Security Act. In his speech, Dr Lim maintains he was falsely charged for being one of the 8 student members of Fajar arrested for sedition, a group that was defended by Lee Kuan Yew himself and subsequently acquited without going to trial. They were freed, but Dr Lim remained under incarceration for a stretch of 20 years. The distortion field obviously extends way beyond the speaker's podium.

Mr Martyn See, who made the original recording, could not comprehend MICA's action, "The amendments to Section 33 of the Films Act now allow for recordings of an event held according to the law. The film (of) Dr Lim Hock Siew fits that bill, and therefore I was confident it would not be illegal." However, MICA conveniently decided to ignore that law and cited another, "Section 35 (1) of the Films Act which alllow for the banning of any film that is contrary to the public interest." But what if the public is interested in what Dr Lim has to say? After all, Lee Kuan Yew's memory has already been shown to be fallible, such as forgetting that he became Prime Minister only through the tie-breaking vote of Dr Toh Chin Chye.

Not all is lost. This is also in Section 40 of the Films Act: "The Minister may, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, exempt any person or class of persons or any film or class of films from all or any of the provisions of this Act." Have faith, even hell can freeze over.

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