SDP online video clearly a party political film: MDA

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has rebuffed accusations by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) that the authority's recent decision to classify an SDP online video as a party political film was a "partisan political move".

In a statement yesterday, the MDA reiterated that the film, titled Pappy Washing Powder, was "clearly a party political film" as defined by the Films Act.

The film used "dramatic elements to sensationalise serious issues" and was "an example of political discourse that does not befit the seriousness of the elections", the MDA said.

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

It was one of two online videos the SDP released in recent weeks. The MDA did not take issue with the second clip, which was on education.

In its statement, the MDA said it was wrong for SDP chief Chee Soon Juan to say that the video in question was similar to recent videos produced by the Government on the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life. This is because the government videos were made to communicate public policy, and bore no reference to any political party, it added.

On Wednesday, Dr Chee accused the MDA of applying the law selectively, and noted that the government videos were used to "depict the serious issue of the MediShield Life in a comical fashion".

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

Dr Chee said the SDP video "is no different in its intent" and that the Government's videos were put up "with the upcoming elections in mind".

Yesterday, the MDA said that political parties are not to produce and distribute party political films in the run-up to the election.

It added that because the SDP film was the first incident concerning a party political film and parties may not have been fully aware of the requirements under the law, it would not be taking any further action.

Walter Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'SDP online video clearly a party political film: MDA'. Print Edition | Subscribe