Friday, 12 September 2014

No public screening of film on political exiles: MDA

It says documentary distorts legitimate actions of country's security agencies
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 11 Sep 2014

A DOCUMENTARY film on Singapore's political exiles is not allowed to be screened in public or distributed in the country because the Media Development Authority (MDA) says it distorts the legitimate actions of security agencies as acts that victimise innocent individuals.

The film, To Singapore, With Love, by local film director Tan Pin Pin, was given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the MDA yesterday.

But a "purely private" screening is allowed, MDA said later when asked by The Straits Times.

In the 70-minute film, Ms Tan interviewed nine Singaporeans on why they fled the country, what their lives are like now and their feelings towards Singapore.

They live in Britain and Thailand, some of them for more than 50 years.

But, the MDA statement said, the individuals gave untruthful and distorted accounts of how they had to flee and remain outside Singapore. Hence, the film "undermines 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".

Ms Tan, 44, said in a Facebook post last night that she was disappointed with the decision.

She had hoped the film would, among other things, open up a "national conversation to allow us to understand ourselves as a nation better".

The documentary was submitted for classification in May by the National University of Singapore Museum. Ms Tan said it was to be screened with two of her other films by the NUS Museum.

The MDA, in its statement, said many in the film were members or supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). "The CPM sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime," it said.

The MDA also said some tried to "whitewash" their security histories, with two of them omitting the criminal offences they are still liable for, like tampering with their Singapore passports or absconding from national service.

It did not identify them.

But records show Mr Ho Juan Thai, a Workers' Party candidate who lost in the 1976 General Election, had amended the December 1976 expiry date on his passport to enter Britain in July 1977. Now 63, he was accused of making racially inflammatory speeches during the election campaign.

The other is former student union leader Tan Wah Piow, now 62. He absconded from national service duties.

The rest are: Dr Ang Swee Chai, 64; Mr Chan Sun Wing; Mr Wong Soon Fong; Mr and Mrs He Jin; and Mr and Mrs Tan Hee Kim.

The last six, who fled in 1963 during a round-up of communists, are in their late 70s and early 80s.

The MDA also disputed the impression they gave that they were being unfairly denied the right to return to Singapore.

They were not forced to leave, nor are they being prevented from returning, the MDA said.

"The Government has made it clear that it would allow former CPM members to return to Singapore if they agree to be interviewed by the authorities on their past activities to resolve their cases," it noted and added: "Criminal offence will have to be accounted for in accordance with the law."

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said he agrees with and supports the MDA's assessment.

He said in a statement on Facebook: "It is not surprising that ex-CPM members and sympathisers wish now to give their own accounts."

But, he added, they should not get to enjoy a public platform to spread untruths "to mislead the public, absolve themselves, or deny their past actions".

Dr Yaacob added: "Many other ex-CPM members and supporters chose to return, acknowledge their actions, and renounce communism and violence. They and their families continued to live here and to contribute to building modern Singapore."

He did not elaborate. But records show they include former communist leaders Eu Chooi Yip and P.V. Sarma. Both returned here from China in 1991.

The MDA's move was criticised last night by about 40 members of Singapore's film-making and arts community. Their statement suggested that "rather than banning the documentary, authorities release their version of the events in question, so that viewers can make up their own minds".

MDA's decision, however, is not final. Ms Tan can appeal to the Films Appeal Committee, an independent 15-member panel.

She said she may re-submit her film "for a rating in the future".

The last film to receive the rarely used "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification was Ken Kwek's Sex.Violence.FamilyValues in 2012, because part of it was judged offensive to Indians.

After he appealed, it was edited and released with an R21 rating.


It is not surprising that ex-CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) members and sympathisers wish now to give their own accounts of historical episodes that they were involved in. But individuals who have chosen to leave and remain outside Singapore, and refused to account for their past actions, should not enjoy a public platform to purvey distorted and untruthful accounts to mislead the public, absolve themselves or deny their past actions.

- Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim


I am... very disappointed that my film is banned. By doing this, MDA is taking away an opportunity for us Singaporeans to see it and to have a conversation about it and our past that this film could have started or contributed to. It is vital for us to have that conversation on our own terms, especially on the eve of our 50th birthday. We need to be trusted to be able to find the answers about ourselves, for ourselves.

- Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin


Whether or not there are artistic merits to the film, does not take away from the fact that there are national security concerns. What may be a concern to one country can be quite different for another country. In Singapore, we have determined that the film has to be disallowed because of national security concerns.

- Media Development Authority chief executive officer Koh Lin-Net

Interest in exile film up after curb
Restriction here spurs some to catch it overseas
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2014

SOME Singaporeans are planning to travel to Johor Baru to watch a little-known documentary film on Singapore's political exiles, with one student organising a chartered bus service for the event.

They were spurred into action by the Media Development Authority's (MDA) decision to disallow public screenings of To Singapore, With Love here.

The MDA said its contents "undermine national security" and classified it as Not Allowed for All Ratings. That means the film, by local filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, 44, cannot be shown in public or distributed here.

Among those whose interest has been piqued by the MDA's action is sales manager Louis Khoo, 30: "I didn't know about the film before MDA made its decision. And now that we're told we can't watch it here, everyone wants to watch it."

Ms Tan's film is based on interviews with nine Singaporeans who fled the country and now live in Britain and Thailand. The film premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea last October, and has played in Berlin and the US.

The MDA said the people featured in it gave distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave and remain outside Singapore, and "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".

The film will play at film festivals in India, the Philippines, London and Taiwan this month and next month.Some students in London, like Royal College of Music undergraduate Nabillah Jalal, are planning to watch it with friends when it plays there at the SEA ArtsFest in October.

"The entire saga of exiling a film about being exiled is stirring some interest - and rebellion - in me," said the 22-year-old. "But it's also a chance to look at perspectives we rarely see."

The film is now on a four-city tour in Malaysia. It played in Petaling Jaya last week and will go to Johor Baru, Kuantan and Penang. Next Friday, clerk Charmaine Lee, 28, will drive with a group of friends to Johor Baru, where the film will be shown at Malaysia's annual Freedom Film Festival.

More than 100 people have registered their interest to attend the screening. Ms Tan yesterday posted on the Facebook event page that the current venue can hold only 150 people. If more register, the organisers may switch to one that can hold 400.

Yesterday, Mr Lim Jialiang, who studies at Nanyang Technological University, created a sign-up form for people who want to take a chartered bus to JB for the show. There have been offers to sponsor two buses, said Mr Lim, 24.

Yesterday, the MDA elaborated on its previous day's remark that a "purely private" screening is allowed. Its spokesman said: "Whether a screening is private will depend on many factors, including how these screenings are planned and conducted and who is permitted access.

"For example, a screening of a film to one's own family members or personal friends could be private screening if no other person is permitted access."

Exiles film okay for classroom use
MDA to give tertiary institutions leeway to show restricted films
By Rachel Au-yong In Johor Baru, The Straits Times, 20 Sep 2014

THE Media Development Authority (MDA) is giving leeway to institutions of higher learning to show films that are restricted or not allowed, including the film To Singapore, With Love, on the country's political exiles.

It also said it has agreed to a request from the Yale-NUS College to screen the documentary on the exiles for classroom teaching and discussion.

The 70-minute documentary by local film-maker Tan Pin Pin, 44, had been given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR)" classification by the MDA, a move criticised by some people as well as film-makers and members of the arts community.

MDA, in explaining its decision, had said the film's contents "undermine national security" and distorted the legitimate actions of security agencies as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

Films classified as NAR are not allowed for public exhibition or distribution.

They can, however, be shown at "purely private" screenings, which depend on many factors, including how the screenings are planned and conducted and who is allowed, the MDA had said.

Yesterday, its statement took it a step further, saying it "recognises that lecturers and students of media or related courses at tertiary institutions may require access to a wider variety of films, including films that are classified R21 or NAR".

"Some leeway is provided to these institutions to screen films for educational purposes, on condition that these films have either been previously classified by the MDA, or prior approval has been sought from the MDA before the films are acquired."

With this move, universities, polytechnics and ITEs that offer such courses can show Ms Tan's documentary after receiving MDA's approval.

They would also have to get her permission to screen the film, which tells the stories of nine political exiles who fled Singapore and now live in Britain and Thailand. Most were members or supporters of the Communist Party of Malaya, according to MDA.

Ms Tan said she had yet to receive a request for it from Yale- NUS College, which had prematurely announced on Thursday that it would be showing the film later this semester.

It would be screened during a course on documentary films, college president Pericles Lewis was quoted telling Yale Daily News, the campus newspaper of Yale University in the United States.

Within hours, it was refuted by Ms Tan, who said on her Facebook page that she had "not agreed to any Singapore screenings, private or institutional".

Yesterday, she appeared circumspect about MDA's latest decision. "As I consider my next step, I will not be giving any screenings for the moment," she told The Straits Times.

At a screening of the film in Johor Baru yesterday, as part of a film festival, she told about 400 people that she was considering several options, including an appeal to the MDA.

She earlier told The Straits Times: "I've not come to any decision yet but since the MDA's classification, more people seem to be interested in seeing the film."

Among those at the Johor screening were about 350 Singaporeans, roughly half of whom arrived in four chartered buses organised by a university student.

One Singaporean filmgoer was undergraduate Kok Yufeng, 24, who said: "This film must be watched as the Government and the media have glossed over this aspect of our history. It is also a good opportunity to hear stories that have not been heard."

Film-maker appeals against MDA rating
Tan Pin Pin submits unchanged exile film again for panel's review
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 3 Oct 2014

FILM-MAKER Tan Pin Pin has sent an appeal to the Films Appeal Committee (FAC) for a review of the classification of To Singapore With Love, her film on Singapore's political exiles.

She said in a post on Facebook last night that she submitted the film - unchanged - to the Films Appeal Committee on Tuesday.

She later added: "They (the FAC) have acknowledged the receipt of the film."

Last month, the MDA gave the film a Not Allowed for All Ratings classification.

It said in a statement that Ms Tan's documentary would not be allowed to be screened in public or distributed here because its contents undermined national security.

In the 70-minute film, Ms Tan interviews nine Singaporeans - who live in Britain and Thailand, some of them for more than 50 years - on why they fled the country, what their lives are like now and the feelings they have towards Singapore.

But when announcing the classification for the film, the MDA said that the individuals gave untruthful and distorted accounts of how they had to flee and remain outside Singapore.

Hence, the film "undermines 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".

Ms Tan, in the Facebook post yesterday, said: "As we approach our 50th birthday, I feel that we as a people should be able to view and weigh for ourselves, through legitimate public screenings in Singapore, differing views about our past, even views that the Government disagrees with."

She hoped the appeal committee would see the film and review the classification in this light.

The committee is an independent 15-member panel chaired by former People's Association chief executive director Tan Boon Huat.

Spurred by the MDA's decision to disallow public screenings here, about 400 people - including Singaporeans - watched the film at a screening last month in Johor Baru.

The last film to receive the Not Allowed for All Ratings classification was Ken Kwek's Sex.Violence.FamilyValues in 2012, because part of it was judged offensive to Indians.

But the appeal committee subsequently gave that film an R21 rating with edits, after an appeal to the panel from the film's producers.

Exiles shouldn't get to air 'self-serving accounts'
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 4 Oct 2014

THE political exiles featured in a documentary that cannot be shown in public or distributed here should not be allowed to air their "self-serving accounts" of the fight against communism, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Local film-maker Tan Pin Pin's To Singapore, With Love had to be seen in the historical context of the communist insurgency, an armed struggle for power that raged for 40 years and killed thousands, he pointed out.

He was commenting for the first time on the film that has been in the news since the Media Development Authority recently classified it "Not Allowed for All Ratings" because it was deemed to undermine national security.

Ms Tan has submitted the film - unchanged - to the independent Films Appeal Committee and said on Thursday she hoped the classification could be reviewed.

It came up at last night's National University of Singapore Society forum when Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh cited it as she asked Mr Lee how the more "controversial" points of history could be discussed more normally.

He said there was no hindrance to discussing the past in a normal way, noting that some historians propound revisionist views of history and others rebut them.

But Ms Tan's film involved people who figured in the communist insurgency. "It was a violent struggle; it lasted for 40 years from 1949. On one side, you had the non-communists, democratic groups; on the other side, you had the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and their sympathisers in the Communist United Front... It was an armed struggle for power," he said, adding that these were matters of historical record, not seriously disputed.

The six self-declared CPM members in Ms Tan's film do not deny having been guerillas, and one even shows himself in jungle green carrying weapons.

After the insurgency, many communists returned to Singapore with their families after owning up to their actions.

They included former communist leaders Eu Chooi Yip and P.V. Sarma who returned from China in 1991. "They were superiors of some of the people who are in the movie - cleared their accounts, made their peace, lived and died here," Mr Lee said.

There is nothing to stop the exiles in Ms Tan's film from doing the same, he added.

"Well, they've chosen not to do so. It's their prerogative. But if they have chosen not to do so, why should we allow them, through a movie, to present an account of themselves, not of documentary history objectively presented, but a self-serving personal account conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over inconvenient facts in others?"

This, he said, would sully the honour and the reputation of security forces, and the people who fought the communists to build the Singapore of today.

A film, he added, is a different medium from a book.

"You write a book, I can write a counter book. The book, you can read together with the counter book," he explained. "You watch the movie, you think it's a documentary. It may be like Fahrenheit 9/11, very convincing, but it's not a documentary. And I think that we have to understand this in order to understand how to deal with these issues."

Professor Tommy Koh, who chaired the forum, noted that the influence of communism had waned, and would no longer pose a security threat to Singapore.

But Mr Lee replied: "Communism is over, but I don't think the people who used to support communism... have given up the fight for a place on the winner's podium."

Film on exiles made no attempt to offer holistic view

I have watched To Singapore, With Love and, with all due respect to film-maker Tan Pin Pin, it's really much ado about nothing ("To JB, for a movie"; last Sunday).

The documentary on exiles and their narratives made no attempt to offer a holistic view, let alone a balanced and objective one.

Are these exiles plugged into Singapore in this digital age? Do they stay abreast of Singapore politics? Do they have any intellectual discourse online with anyone here? Are they even interested after all these years? Do they sit back and sigh when they read about selfie-obsessed Singaporeans? What are their thoughts about the landmark 2011 General Election? These are just some questions off the top of my head.

As a politically informed individual, I would say the exiles came across as individuals who have got on with life, bitter in some parts but better in others. One would have to be very cynical to regard anything they say as incendiary. Even talk of communism and living in the jungles in the 1960s is too distant and detached for today's "selfie generation".

Yet, I would say the Media Development Authority did the right thing by prohibiting public screening of the film. While the documentary itself is ho-hum at best, I can see individuals and "free speech activists" making political capital out of it for their own agendas. Some may even attempt to position Ms Tan as a political critic, which she is clearly not. I am fairly certain she would reject that notion if put on the spot.

All this hype would make Singaporeans want to watch the documentary - and they should. Only then will they realise it is just hype and nothing more.

Anand A. Vathiyar
ST Forum, 5 Oct 2014

Film on exiles contains 'untruths and deception'
Allowing public screening would mean condoning use of subversion: Minister
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 8 Oct 2014

THE film To Singapore, With Love contains "untruths and deception" about the history of the communists and the violence they perpetrated, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

The film, by Ms Tan Pin Pin, captures the lives of nine exiles in various countries, including Britain and Thailand.

Said Dr Yaacob: "The film allowed some Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) members and their Communist United Front sympathisers to whitewash their past actions by re-casting them as the expression of a peaceful and democratic difference of ideology and views."

But they had in fact been involved in violent and subversive actions to advance the CPM agenda, he said, and they had posed a serious threat to the safety and security of Singapore.

The film should be viewed in its historical context, Dr Yaacob said, reiterating Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's explanation last Friday at a National University of Singapore Society forum.

The minister noted that the CPM waged a violent and subversive war for over four decades, seeking to install a communist regime in Malaysia and Singapore.

Over 8,000 civilians and security personnel were injured or killed, and communist hit squads killed in broad daylight.

The CPM also infiltrated organisations like student bodies, labour unions and political parties, using them to stir up trouble.

While these actions are well-established historical facts written about extensively, "the film To Singapore, With Love contains untruths and deception about this history", said Dr Yaacob.

Those featured in the film also gave the false impression that they were banned from returning to Singapore. Unlike them, however, many former CPM members did return after accounting for their actions. They included senior CPM members Eu Chooi Yip and P. V. Sarma, who were the heads respectively of the Chinese and English sections of CPM's propaganda radio station, the Voice of Malayan Revolution.

While the struggles against the communists may be a distant memory for many people, it cannot be that those who participated in the violence can be allowed to absolve themselves without accounting for their past actions and renouncing such violence.

Dr Yaacob said the film's "one-sided portrayals" are designed to evoke feelings of sympathy and support for the individuals who have not accounted for their past actions.

He said: "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.

"It would also be a gross injustice to the men and women who braved violence and intimidation to stand up to the communists, especially those who lost their lives in the fight to preserve Singapore's security and stability, and secure a democratic, non-communist Singapore."

Not taking action against films which contain distorted and untruthful accounts would give the false impression that there is truth to the claims, said Dr Yaacob, and the Government's actions against these people could then be seen as unwarranted.

This could erode public confidence in the Government on security matters, even as the country deals with current threats like terrorism, he added.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) - which gave the film its classification - has met Ms Tan to explain its decision. The minister added that the MDA does not have specific guidelines that deal with historical content, and does not intend to develop such guidelines.

The Films Classification Guidelines already state that in "exceptional cases" a film may be given the NAR rating if its contents are deemed to undermine national interest, he explained.

'Misleading account' of lives of exiles
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 8 Oct 2014

LOCAL film-maker Tan Pin Pin's film To Singapore, With Love has not presented the historical facts on the political exiles featured, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

Instead it gives a misleading account of their lives, when actually some were active communists, while others omitted mentioning their criminal offences.

Six people in the film are Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) members, and had been in - or were still in - a village at the Thai-Malaysian border that houses former CPM fighters who have since laid down their arms.

Chan Sun Wing and He Jin had served under senior CPM leader Eu Chooi Yip in the party's China-based propaganda radio station.

Dr Yaacob said that He Jin had in the film deflected questions about the communists' use of violence, speaking instead about the CPM's involvement in fighting the Japanese during World War II.

His wife, Shu Shihua - another CPM member - was also in the film.

Another member, Wong Soon Fong, fled Singapore in 1963 to avoid arrest.

And while Tan Hee Kim and his wife Yap Wan Ping claimed to have joined the CPM only after they decided to leave Singapore, they were - in reality - active members before they left.

Meanwhile, Ho Juan Thai and Tan Wah Piow avoided mentioning the criminal offences they remain liable for, noted Dr Yaacob.

Ho admitted in an open letter in 1982 that he had amended the expiry date of his Singapore passport.

Tan Wah Piow also left Singapore illegally to evade national service and travelled to Britain on his expired passport with a forged extension endorsement.

Exile's story on why he fled 'not full picture'
Sam Tan rebuts ex-WP candidate Ho Juan Thai's claims on website
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2014

MINISTER of State Sam Tan has rebutted a political exile's account of why he fled Singapore in 1976, saying it fails to give a full picture and makes contradictory claims.

In a rare move by an office- holder, Mr Tan wrote to socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC), saying London-based Ho Juan Thai omitted mentioning that the police wanted to question him because he "made inflammatory speeches" when he ran in the 1976 General Election.

Mr Tan, who is with the Prime Minister's Office, pointed out that Mr Ho made contradictory claims - "on the one hand, that he was a victim of police intimidation, and on the other, he was willing to turn himself in for questioning".

During the 1976 election campaign, Mr Ho criticised the Government's Chinese-language policy.

Mr Ho, who was contesting Bukit Panjang on a Workers' Party (WP) ticket, said the Government was out to "exterminate" Chinese education in Singapore and "wipe out" the Chinese language.

He also said the achievement of the Government had been to kill off Chinese education.

These statements, Mr Tan said, were on public record.

"In multiracial Singapore, such allegations were reckless and irresponsible then as they would be now. Mr Ho's remarks could have caused divisions in society and sowed distrust between the English- and Chinese-educated."

"This could have torn apart our fragile social fabric then," Mr Tan added in his letter, which TOC posted on its website yesterday.

The website published Mr Ho's commentary, titled The Truth From A Singapore Exile, on Nov 2.

Mr Ho wrote that he left Singapore, without applying for an exit permit, because he believed his personal safety was at risk.

He claimed Internal Security Department officers - one with gun drawn - came to arrest him some time after the 1976 election.

Now aged 63, he said that despite having "great reservations", he respected the law and legal process in Singapore.

In his rebuttal, Mr Tan said it was revealing that after Mr Ho fled to London, his then colleagues in the WP did not make much of a fuss on his behalf or similarly flee Singapore.

"Why did they not do so, or run away like him, if there was such a pervasive climate of intimidation?" wrote Mr Tan.

He also noted that Mr Ho admitted, in an open letter in 1982, that he amended the December 1976 expiry date on his Singapore passport to enter Britain in July 1977.

Mr Ho was among nine Singaporeans living in exile in Britain and Thailand who are featured in a documentary film, To Singapore, With Love.

It was screened at a London arts festival, and Mr Ho and another exile, Mr Tan Wah Piow, attended one of the screenings.

The film is not allowed to be screened in public or distributed in Singapore. The authorities say it undermines national security because the security agencies' legitimate actions, in protecting Singapore's national security and stability, are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

Appeal for public screenings of exile film rejected
Panel says documentary may lead some to see violence as justified
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 13 Nov 2014

It said the film gives a one-sided account that could lead people who are not in the know to see the acts of violence and subversion as justified for achieving political ends in Singapore.

For this reason, the film is a threat to the country's national security, the committee's chairman Tan Boon Huat said yesterday when it upheld the film's "Not Allowed for All Ratings" (NAR) classification.

The rating from the Media Development Authority (MDA) bars the film from public screening and distribution in Singapore.

The committee's decision, however, was not unanimous. Nine of the 12 members present voted to maintain the NAR decision while three voted for a Restricted 21 (R21) rating, which is for an adult audience.

The film features nine Singaporean political exiles giving their take on why they fled the country, their lives now and their feelings towards Singapore.

Mr Tan said the committee took into account Ms Tan's explanation of the film, as well as the views of the MDA and relevant government agencies.

The panel also considered the film classification guidelines which state "films deemed to undermine public order, national security and/or stability will be disallowed for all ratings".

In his statement, Mr Tan noted that the film was of commendable artistic standards.

But, he said, the panel found it "to be a one-sided account with minimal attempts to provide a balanced mix of views".

He added: "As real people and events were featured in the film, the FAC felt that viewers who watch it without sufficient knowledge and understanding of the historical context would take the views presented as truth.

"This would mean acts of violence and subversion would appear justified to the uninitiated.

"Therefore, the FAC agreed that the film would pose a serious risk to Singapore's national security by condoning the use of violence and subversion as a means to achieve political ends in Singapore."

Ms Tan had appealed to the FAC in September.

Yesterday, Mr Tan said she told the panel her film was intended to relate the "personal stories and emotions of people who have been away from Singapore for an extended length of time".

Ms Tan said she let the exiles speak from their own perspective and tried to provide balance to their views by using inter-titles and newspaper clippings. She acknowledged that she had relied on newspaper reports and did not verify the information with the authorities, Mr Tan added.

Last night, a disappointed Ms Tan said in a Facebook post that she was exploring her options, including private screenings, which the NAR rating allows.

She added: "I believe Singaporeans are mature enough to appreciate that (the exiles' perspective) is one of many views."

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, noted that the film glosses over the fact that the communist insurrection was violent and conducted by an illegal organisation.

"Allowing it to be screened publicly would effectively mean condoning the use of subversion in Singapore.

"More importantly, it will be a great injustice and dishonour to those who bravely stood up to the communists in a fight to secure a democratic, non-communist Singapore," he said.

The last time an MDA decision was overturned was last year, when Ken Kwek's film Sex.Violence.FamilyValues received an NAR rating. After he made an appeal, the film was given an R21 rating and screened in cinemas with edits.

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