Tan Pin Pin pulls documentary Singapore GaGa from Malaysia festival after censors demand cut

Tan Pin Pin will withdraw Singapore GaGa from the Titian Budaya Festival.
Tan Pin Pin will withdraw Singapore GaGa from the Titian Budaya Festival.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Director Tan Pin Pin will withdraw her documentary Singapore GaGa (2005) from a cultural festival in Malaysia after censors requested cuts which she called "arbitrary and nonsensical".

The 55-minute film was to be screened at the Titian Budaya Festival as part of a Singapore film festival from Jan 14 to 17 in Kuala Lumpur.

Titian Budaya is a festival celebrating ties between Singapore and Malaysia, with a showcase of talents from both countries.

Tan wrote on Facebook on Sunday (Jan 3): "Just heard that Singapore GaGa (2005) has been censored by the Malaysian censors as it could be a 'security threat' and 'create doubt and restlessness' among citizens."

The organisers appealed to the chief censor, but the appeal was rejected last week, she said.

She quoted a translation of the censor's report, which was in Malay: "Erase (Victor Khoo) saying 'animals' in Malay and delete the subtitles of 'animals' which has a double meaning.


"This goes against the film Censorship guidelines Ministry of home affairs Part II:2.1.1 (v) Dialogue can create doubt and restlessness among citizens and finally may cause a security threat, disturbance of public peace and national defence."

Tan said that this refers to a part of the film where the late ventriloquist Victor Khoo and his puppet Charlee are entertaining children and he teases them by calling them "binatang-binatang" or "animals" in Malay.

Tan concluded: "I have decided to keep the film intact and hence would need to withdraw the film from the event, which I have done."

Singapore GaGa is a whimsical documentary featuring Singapore soundscapes ranging from buskers to veteran musicians.

It was the first made-in-Singapore documentary to get a theatrical release here and has been shown in festivals around the world.

Singapore GaGa 新加坡疯 from Tan Pin Pin on Vimeo.