MDA strongly disagrees with SDP calling its classification of video a 'partisan political move'

The video shows a woman using washing powder named Pappy White.
The video shows a woman using washing powder named Pappy White.SCREENGRAB: SDP/ YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - The Media Development Authority (MDA) said on Thursday it strongly disagrees with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), which called it a "partisan political move" that the authority had classified its latest online video as a party political film.

In a statement, the MDA said the SDP's film, titled Pappy Washing Powder, is "clearly a party political film" as defined in the Films Act.

This is because the film had used "dramatic elements to sensationalise serious issues", said the MDA, adding it is "an example of political discourse that does not befit the seriousness of the elections".

The SDP clip, which is just over a minute long, was uploaded to YouTube on Aug 5. Shot as a commercial for washing detergent, it shows a woman using washing powder named Pappy White to remove the words "transparency", "accountability" and "democracy" from t-shirts.

The MDA also said it was wrong for SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan to say his party's video was similar to recent Government videos on the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life.

This is because the Government videos are made to communicate public policy, and make no reference to any political party, the MDA said.

The authority reiterated that the Films Act clearly states that party political films cannot be made, distributed or exhibited. It also said it decided not to take any further action with the SDP because this was the first incident concerning a party political film and parties may not have been fully aware of the requirements under the Act.

On Wednesday morning, SDP chief Chee Soon Juan had accused the MDA of applying the law selectively. He said the Government also used online videos to "depict the serious issue of the MediShield Life in a comical fashion".

Those videos had used a Chinese fable and a cabaret song to explain the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life.

"The video, Pappy Washing Powder, which the Government has cited as having contravened the Films Act is no different in its intent from the Monkey God video or LKY the Musical which is to reach out to the public on issues through satire, parody and song," he said.

Dr Chee then added: "It is obvious that the People's Action Party (PAP) government has done this with the upcoming elections in mind."