Freedom Film Fest has cancelled a screening of a Singaporean movie on political exiles that is banned in the republic, alleging that Putrajaya had pressured the owner of the Kuantan venue that would have hosted the viewing.
October 9, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Freedom Film Fest has cancelled a screening of a Singaporean movie on political exiles that is banned in the republic, alleging that Putrajaya had pressured the owner of the Kuantan venue that would have hosted the viewing.
On Facebook yesterday, organisers Pusat Komas cited “unforeseen circumstances” that involved three visits allegedly paid by Home Ministry officials to the venue owner, during which she was threatened with the revocation of her business licence.
“Since then, she has decided that she won’t be able to take the risk to host the screening event in her place. One of the reasons mentioned was that we are screening a film banned in Singapore,” the rights group posted on a Facebook page for the film festival.
The screening of the film titled “To Singapore, with love”, a documentary, was originally scheduled for October 11.
Produced and directed by Singaporean director, Tan Pin Pin, the film examines the case of political exiles in the city-state and features interviews with nine former activists, student leaders, and self-confessed communists who fled Singapore from the 1960s until the 1980s and are currently settled in Malaysia, Britain and Thailand.
On September 10, the Media Development Authority (MDA), Singapore’s media regulator, banned the documentary, saying it provided a “distorted and untruthful” account of the exiles’ situation.
It said the film’s contents undermined national security because it showed “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”.
Freedom Film Fest screened the banned film in Johor Baru last month, drawing hundreds of defiant Singaporeans who attended the screening to protest the censorship.
This is not the first time Pusat Komas has run into problems with screening unapproved films.
On September 19 last year, a Pusat Komas programme coordinator was charged in a magistrates court with screening a documentary titled ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ without prior approval from the Malaysian Film Censorship Board.
Lena Rasathi Hendy was charged under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002, which carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both, upon conviction.
Lena later filed the application to quash the charge last November 25, and she was granted a stay of her case, pending outcome of the application.
On April 11, High Court Judge Kamardin Hashim dismissed Lena’s application, saying that the imposition of restrictions by the Film Censorship Board was not ultra vires under Clause 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution and was emphasised in Clause (4(1) of the same Constitution.
The Freedom Film Fest is positioned as Malaysia’s most established annual human rights film festival and was launched in 2003 with the tagline, “Dare To Document”.
It screens both inspiring local and international shorts, films and documentaries at its annual event.