Radiance of Resistance banned for skewed narrative

From ‘IMDA bans film on Palestine-Israeli conflict, citing its skewed narrative’, 2 Jan 2018, article by Yuen Sin, ST

A documentary film that was due to be shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday (Jan 4) has been banned from public screening by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) for its “skewed narrative”.

The IMDA gave Radiance Of Resistance a rare Not Allowed For All Ratings (NAR) classification, over concerns that the film may cause disharmony among different races and religions in Singapore.

…According to the IMDA website, the one-hour film was banned from public screening and distribution here as it explores the Israeli-Palestine conflict “without counterbalance”.

“The documentary focuses on the Tamimi family, and two young girls, who are presented as the new faces of Palestinian resistance. In holding up the girls as role models to be emulated in an ongoing conflict, the film incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors,” said the IMDA.

The trope is all too familiar. The rise of an underdog against the might of a superior power. A lone figure standing before a tank in Tiananmen Square. A Japanese soldier fending off American marauders. Tom Cruise in a conspiracy to assassinate the Fuhrer (Valkyrie). Hua Mulan charging on a horse against the Huns. Braveheart vs Mighty England. Pocahontas vs the Great White Male.

You get the point. ‘Skewed narratives’ are what STORIES are made of. The posthumous LKY film ‘1965‘ was skewed, so is Jack Neo’s juvenile depiction of NS life in the clusterfuck of Ah Boys to Men sequels. The Passion of Christ was biased towards the Romans. The Journey of the West epic put deities in a bad light. None of these got banned, or even a R21 rating, because filmgoers were trusted to form their own impressions. Because we’re sensible adults. We read books. If ‘counterbalance’ is desired, then it would be mandatory to view ‘To Singapore With Love‘ after ‘1965’.

Then a film from the Israeli-Palestine border comes along and the authorities suddenly decide to interpret its message as inflammatory propaganda on our behalf because national security. The thing is, if Singaporeans want to take up arms for some war-torn country in the name of religion, they’re not going to be inspired by an arty-farty documentary about teenage girl warriors. They’ll get self-radicalised from ISIS rap videos that promise rivers of wine and  virgins in the afterlife on You-fucking-tube.

Which is where everyone will turn to to watch Radiance anyway, thanks to IMDA’s inadvertent pitch.

 

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Who wants to watch live feeds of Parliamentary proceedings?

From ‘Videos of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government: Chee Hong Tat’, 7 Nov 2017, article in CNA

Video recordings of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government which in turn commissions national broadcaster Mediacorp to cover the sittings and show the footage on various platforms, including free-to-air television as well as on Channel NewsAsia’s Parliament micro-site and its Facebook page.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat clarified this in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7) in response to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera from the Workers’ Party (WP). Mr Perera had asked which entity owns the copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary proceedings.

He also asked if the Ministry would consider removing the copyright if indeed they are protected by one, and make all video footage of parliamentary proceedings freely available for use.

To this, Mr Chee said the public can use the recordings for personal and non-commercial purposes with attribution to Mediacorp. He said the recordings are already used regularly by social media sites and political parties, including the Workers’ Party.

Mr Perera then questioned why Parliament is not given the funding and ability to makes its own live feed and video recordings available with a searchable archive as is the case with countries like Australia, Taiwan and the United States.

Mr Chee said demand for a live feed of proceedings is low.

To be fair, it’s probably true that there are less people willing to sit through a live Parliamentary feed than a Crime watch episode. Mediacorp being a business entity struggling with ratings overall however, has a vested interest in making Parliamentary sessions not so much informative than ‘entertaining’ in bite-size snippets to cater to the general public, yet at the same time refrain from making their political masters look bad, no matter how attention grabbing it would be. Like when they’re caught napping for example.

Beyond intellectually stimulating debates, TV is also the perfect politician toolkit for drama. You have MPs bawling like a baby.

Begging for mercy.

Pointing to the heavens like in Taiwan drama serials seeking divine justice

Could anyone forget the saga that is ‘Tang Liang Hong is Not my Brother’

Some make grand exits like a boss without saying a single word.

And you have the occasional stand-up comedy bringing the House down, like Chan Chun Sing’s ‘Madam President’ skit.

In fact, when Today in Parliament debuted on SBC in 1985, while it was welcomed with much fanfare, there were already calls by Parliament fans for full uncensored telecasts, an act that would symbolise ‘democracy in action’. Though it’s often assumed that PAP speakers would reap the most airtime from these sessions, there were also complaints of opposition MPs hogging the limelight, like JBJ’s ‘unending complaints’ ‘unending complaints’ and ‘belching hot air’.

One MP, Tay Eng Soon, opposed the format of TV broadcasting altogether, recommending that viewers ‘close their eyes’ and listen to the crux of debates rather than picking on visual distractions like a politician’s dress sense, body language, or shiny reflection off his bald plate. But what is politics without its histrionics and theatre anyway.

Despite Chee Hong Tat’s claims of low viewership, I do believe there is value in putting up videos wholesale (by topics at least) as a supplement to the standard edits since the government has always emphasised on digitalisation and transparency, so that hardcore Parliament fans should be given the chance to dissect discussions, warts and all. Isn’t the purpose of the party whip or Speaker to serve as a real-time moderator/editor of the proceedings anyway, so that debates don’t get out of hand?

Besides, in the age of Netflix, TV viewership has been anaemic for years anyway. Given a choice between Parliament and watching a run-of-the-mill drama with actors spouting foreign accents, I’d rather spend my time on the former. The acting may even be better.

 

Li Shengwu surprised that Government is so petty

From ‘Li Shengwu surprised that Facebook post on Singapore court system enough to trigger AGC response’, 17 July 2017, article in ST

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said on Monday (July 17) it is looking into a recent Facebook post put up by Mr Li Shengwu, the son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In a private post, which was uploaded on Saturday, Mr Li, 32, shared a Wall Street Journal article on the recent Oxley Road dispute, titled “Singapore, a model of orderly rule, is jolted by a bitter family feud”.

He also commented on Singapore’s court system.

The AGC said in a brief statement on Monday morning that it is aware of Mr Li’s post and is looking into the matter.

In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon responding to AGC’s statement, Mr Li said he was “somewhat surprised” that his last post – which was shared on “friends only” privacy settings – was enough to trigger a response.

He added: “I’m surprised that the Singapore government is so petty. Would they also like to trawl my private Facebook feed for seditious vacation photos?”

In the offending post, Li Shengwu, a Harvard academic, shared his thoughts on media censorship, as a side note to a linked article summarising he Oxley ‘political crisis’.

Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system. This constrains what the international media can usually report.

We all also keep in mind, of course, that Shengwu is PM Lee’s nephew, and PM Lee has declared in public that he would not take legal action against another member of the Lee family as it would besmirch LKY’s name. But that wouldn’t stop the AGC from calling this being in ‘contempt of court’.

Or would it?

This could well be a post-Oxley Catch-22. AGC has taken to task people like cartoonist Leslie Chew and rogue political activist Han Hui Hui.  We should expect them to demand that the offender issue a statement of apology, or least remove the post from the face of the earth. But this is – dun-dun-dunnn – PM Lee’s own flesh and blood.

Incidentally, one possible reason why international media tends to be cautious about commentaries on Singapore’s elite is they may get ‘sued until their pants drop’. Which is what both Shengwu’s uncle and – guess who – late grandfather LKY did when they were accused of running a dynasty by the Herald Tribune. Now that alleged dynasty has been dramatically torn apart.

Shengwu is a grown man and doesn’t need daddy to tell him what not to post on Facebook, even if it’s in ‘private’ setting. He’s also been described as ‘Oxford’s finest debater‘, having won Best Speaker at a World Debating Championship. It’s interesting to see how being a world-renown master debater can get you out of a tangle with the all-powerful AGC. I wonder how ‘seditious’ those vacation photos could be, though. Did he pose with kangaroos in Oz with ‘sensitive captions’?

Maybe Dad and Aunt Lee Wei Ling are drafting their Facebook notes as we speak. It’s Game of Thrones week, but save some popcorn for this one.

UPDATE: Lee Wei Ling just described this ‘petty’ incident as a case of ‘Big Brother’ syndrome and suggested that there’s a FB police monitoring the Lee siblings’ posts, even infiltrating privacy settings. It’s more likely attributed to the very nature of social media itself, rather than a Government hack charming his way into Shengwu’s circle of friends.

No doubt her big brother is watching this intently. Like a pesky cockroach that refuses to die.

 

 

 

ASAS does not want Pink Dot to ‘support the freedom to love’

From ‘Advertising watchdog asks Cathay to remove phrase in Pink Dot ad’, 9 July 2017, article in CNA

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has advised Cathay Organisation to remove a phrase in an advertisement at Cathay Cineleisure mall promoting an upcoming Pink Dot event.

The phrase in question reads: “Supporting the freedom to love.” In a statement on Friday (Jun 9), ASAS said this “may affect public sensitivities due to the issues at hand”.

“The rest of the advertisement may otherwise remain,” said the advertising watchdog, noting that “the Pink Dot advertisement at Cineleisure technically does not breach the general principle on family values in the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice”.

…The ad – which went up on an escalator at the mall on May 31 – drew complaints from people in the “We are against Pinkdot in Singapore” Facebook group, who are opposed to the annual rally held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

‘Freedom’ and ‘love’ are two words in the English language that inspire fierce, positive emotions, among other provocative words like ‘home’, ‘God’ and ‘bacon’. But link them together and colour the phrase pink and you start to rile the censors. This coming from the same folks who intervened when a casual diner featured barenaked butts on its advertisements. Just when you thought they only clamp down on bra ads at bus stops or objects that look like vaginas. Suddenly, the freedom to love is no longer a natural human trait, but an unwelcome disease.

‘Free love’ means a different thing entirely, of course, implying mass orgies and promiscuity. So I’m not sure if ASAS is mistaking one term for the other. Those on the side of the Church complain that loving another of the same sex defiles the marriage ‘covenant’ in the Bible. Yet they keep silent on the ‘freedom’ of paedophile priests to ‘love’ their altar boys. Or the freedom to love more than one woman at a time, enough to engage in mistress-stashing, or better still, polygamy.

Not that removing a single phrase makes any difference to the anti Pink Dot lynch mob. These guys would freak out if they so much as see a pink car, a rainbow cake, or a goddamn flamingo. Now if they see a Milo Van round the corner they would immediately think of Pink Dot ambassador Nathan Hortono, incite their brethren to spit out the nourishing chocolatey drink before it turns them to barstool-humping pink-tongued homosexuals.

If someone from the WAAPD clan decides to scrawl the word ‘faggot’ on the banner, would it get the same heat as someone writing ‘terrorist’ next to a cartoon lady wearing a hijab? Cheer a vandal for homophobic slurring and you get off scot-free. Do the same publicly for a racist and you would expect a late night visit from the police, in addition to a nationwide ‘anyhow-hantam’ witchhunt leaving a trail of companies denying on Facebook that you were ever their employee.

 

OK chope! making fun of Najib Razak

From ‘Mediacorp Channel 5 apologises for offensive segment on Ok Chope’, 5 April 2017, article in CNA

Mediacorp Channel 5 has apologised for a comedy segment that contained comments on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that some viewers found offensive.

After the segment on comedy show OK Chope! was aired on Mar 29, the channel received feedback from viewers that it was offensive, it said in a statement on Wednesday (Apr 5)

In response to media queries, Mediacorp’s chief customer officer Debra Soon said: “Channel 5 and the production team behind OK Chope! wish to sincerely apologise to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for a segment on last week’s episode.

“OK Chope!, a weekly live show, features comedians providing humorous takes on news and current affairs. Last week’s episode included references to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak which were in poor taste and offensive. We have thus pulled it from repeat telecast with immediate effect. We apologise unreservedly for this mistake.”

When Malaysia banned the comedy classic Zoolander over a storyline that involved the assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Singapore followed suit in order to be ‘sensitive’ to our neighbours. We would have no issue with the countless movies that depict villains trying to kill the POTUS, for example, probably because we don’t share the same brotherly love with the US as we do with our immediate neighbours. I doubt we would flinch if someone made a movie about killing the mayor of Batam.

The OK chope jibes against Najib were rather harmless, even juvenile. Unlike allusions to corruption that got another local comedian Fakkah Fuzz some heat from Malaysian authorities. Curiously, both Najip (with a p) and Fuzz apologised for roasting the Malaysian PM, though both would have no qualms slamming comedy fodder like Trump for the sake of a few laughs (and dollars).

Which puts the state of local satire in awkward jeopardy; that you’re more afraid of insulting another country’s politician than your own. Of all the discontent going in the country, it’s strange that Najib symphatisers should focus on a Singaporean rip-off of Who’s Line is It Anyway, rather than sending the Thought Police to scour their own forums and comedy clubs for anything that suggests foul disobedience against a man treated like a god-king.

Singaporeans and Malaysians tease and joke about each other all the time. We mock their accents, they slam our kiasu-ism. We’re like two buddies in the shower room slapping each other on the butt-cheeks with wet towels, but always in good humour without any malice. It’s unfortunate that one tiny slap from a little known show from the Little Red Dot could cause so much butthurt over the Causeway.

Perhaps Najib and his lackeys could learn a thing or two from our self-professed ‘flame-proof’ PM Lee. 

 

14 year old boy can’t watch Beauty and the Beast

From ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast prompts advisory from Anglican Bishop’, 13 March 2017, article by Foo Jie Ying, ST

In the live-action remake of Disney’s classic Beauty And The Beast, LeFou shows more than just friendly feelings for the handsome antagonist Gaston.

This prompted Anglican Bishop Rennis Ponniah to issue an advisory before the film premieres here on Thursday.

In a statement released on the St Andrew’s Cathedral website, Bishop Rennis Ponniah urged the clergy and deaconesses to alert their congregation about the homosexual content in the film.

He wrote: “Disney films for children’s entertainment are usually associated with wholesome and mainstream values. But times are changing at a foundational level… LeFou is portrayed as gay and a ‘gay moment‘ is included in the movie by way of a subplot.

…LeFou, played by Josh Gad, is Disney’s first openly gay character and director Bill Condon’s way of increasing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visibility on screen. The new film has caused quite a stir around the world.

An Alabama theatre said it would not screen it. In Russia, only those aged 16 and above are allowed to watch the film.

Here, the film was passed clean by the regulators with no edits. It was rated as PG with some intense sequences of characters in perilous situations.

…Marketing consultant Wilfred Chan, 43, said he will not let his 14-year-old son watch the movie as the homosexual content is against his religious beliefs.

Is Disney really all cotton-candy, honey and apple-pie wholesomeness? Not if you take the subliminal sex conspiracy seriously. Maybe the creators could no longer repress their Freudian instincts after decades of slipping naughty references in their animation and decided to – as Elsa would sing -‘let it go’ in the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.

The story of homoeroticism, like how the song goes, is a tale as old as time. And sadly, in 2017, certain religious circles still call it a breaking of ‘foundational’ values, and parents impose their own moral attitudes on their teenage kids. How strange that a teen would be forbidden from watching a film because of its ‘gay moments’ when he would have already been exposed to head-splitting violence, gore and hardcore porn at that age, including perhaps hentai porn involving animated over-endowed women and another kind of beast – with tentacles.

Sure, watching a man drive a screwdriver into another man’s eyeball is fine, but when the film shows men having ‘feelings’ for each other, it’s a no-no, though I have my doubts that Beauty and the Beast would be among the top movies to watch this weekend for guys in general. Unless they’re fathers whose last memory of Beast was when he was Ron Perlman of Hellboy fame, or pimply boys out on a first date.

I guess nothing would give the Bishop and his flock more peace of mind than having the censors step in to cut the gay subplot out of a ‘family-friendly’ movie. After all, that’s what IMDA did to the gay kiss on Les Miserables. So why didn’t they rein in the LGBT beast here? Would the book version be banned from our libraries like how they took down a children’s tale of gay penguins?

Disney, of course, produced one of the most emotionally staggering death scenes in the history of cinema when Bambi’s mother died. So they’re not one to shy away from the harsh realities of life despite their main audience being young, impressionable children – whether it’s cold blooded murder, or hot-blooded gay men.

Naked Ladies and Undressing Room censored by IMDA

From ‘Two plays at upcoming M1 Fringe Festival exceed R18 rating’

Two performances at next year’s M1 Singapore Fringe Festival will have to be changed or dropped after the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed that they contained excessive nudity.

In a statement on Friday (Nov 25), the IMDA said the two performances, Naked Ladies and Undressing Room, exceeded the R18 rating under the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC) due to “excessive nudity which included scenes of audience-participants stripping naked, and graphic depictions of exposed genitalia”

…Naked Ladies and Undressing Room were singled out for criticisms in a Facebook post by a group called Singaporeans Defending Family and Marriage. The post questioned whether the festival was trying to pass off pornography as art.

Undressing Room, by Singapore dancer Ming Poon, is a one-to-one performance between the artist and a participant who will be challenged to bare all in a private space.

Naked Ladies is a performance lecture about the history of the naked female body by Canadian artist and academic Thea Fitz-James. She undresses during the performance and will be naked for large parts of the show.

In Ming Poon’s Undressing Room, a random member of the audience is brought into a private room where the performer proceeds to silently take off your clothes. R18 or not, I can’t imagine anyone participating in this awkward act while keeping a straight face, whatever your sexual orientation. The Singaporeans Defending Marriage and Family and its vivid imagination, however, proceeds to add ‘exploring each other (sic) naked body’ in its Facebook post, citing the work as an excuse for sexual assault. No sane artist will tear your clothes off for no reason and start, as Trump would say, grope you by the pussy, without risking jail. Incidentally, if people didn’t explore each others’ body naked, there would be NO FAMILY to defend.

More disappointingly, it took a complaint by a legion of prudes masquerading of saviours of humanity to prod the IMDA into making the cut. Would they have made the same call to Minsters to act on the ‘porn disguised as art’ cabaret show Crazy Horse back in 2005? Could this lot be anymore hypocritical about the harmful effects of sex and nudity on the national psyche – sharing a anti-nudity Facebook post in one tab, and discreetly surfing Pornhub in another? People like these are why we can’t have nice things, and instead of visiting museums and festivals and enjoying provocative art, we’re at home grilling the kids and promising them Nintendo DS consoles if they score more than 250 for their fucking PSLE.

But maybe it’s not about drawing a line between art and porn, but between art and crazy nudie stunt. The educated person’s Jackass if you will. Like stripping naked and asking an audience member to stare at you while you’re both sitting on custom-made toilet bowls, for instance.

In 2011, T Venkanna charged his audience $250 for posing with him while he was butt naked at the Art Stage MBS. According to the Singaporean Defenders of all things good and moral, this would be as close to ‘prostituting’ the arts sector as you can get.

Or this extreme WTF-ish piece that involves plopping eggs out of your vagina onto a canvas. I hear there are shows in Thailand where performers do similar vaginal stuff with drink cans.

It’s also arguable if you could classify snipping off your pubic hair for an audience as art. But maybe that’s what art, especially those that involve icky private parts, is supposed to convey, to stimulate internal monologues like: Hey, is this art? How does this make me feel? What am I doing here? I paid money for this? How abstract is that pair of glasses on the gallery floor?

Glasses (spectacles) placed on the floor in an art gallery at SFMONA as a prank by TJ Khayatan and his friend to see how people would react.

You’d figure anyone by the age of 18 years would be able to appreciate such conflicts without needing to see a psychiatrist for trauma. You’d think the smorgasbord of online porn would inure us from images of people unnecessarily touching themselves in all sorts of places in the name of art. But NOOOO, the IMDA still doesn’t think we’re discerning enough to handle such controversy, vindicating a Facebook group that also champions discrimination in the name of an illusory greater cause. This coming from a society where key leaders commit personal indiscretions despite their families, and bored married people pay for VPN tokens to sign up with still banned Ashley Madison.