Appeal to reclassify rating of To Singapore, With Love rejected

Ms Tan Pin Pin had appealed to the Films Appeal Committee in September after her film on Singapore's political exiles, To Singapore, With Love, was given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the MDA. This means the film cannot be distrib
Ms Tan Pin Pin had appealed to the Films Appeal Committee in September after her film on Singapore's political exiles, To Singapore, With Love, was given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the MDA. This means the film cannot be distributed or shown in public here. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Film-maker Tan Pin Pin has failed in her appeal to overturn a decision by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to bar her film from public viewing in Singapore.

Ms Tan had appealed to the Films Appeal Committee (FAC) in September after her film on Singapore's political exiles, To Singapore, With Love, was given a "Not Allowed for All Ratings" classification by the MDA.

This means the film cannot be distributed or shown in public here.

In a statement on Wednesday, FAC committee chairman Tan Boon Huat said the body has decided to uphold the MDA's rating after considering the director's representations, as well as the views of the MDA and relevant government agencies.

"While of commendable artistic standard, the FAC found the film to be a one-sided account with minimal attempts to provide a balanced mix of views beyond those providedby the interviewees featured in the film," he said.

"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 the truth.

"This would mean that 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."

Of the 12 members present, nine voted to uphold the classification, said Mr Tan. The other three voted that the film be given a Restricted 21 (R21) rating instead.

The FAC took into account Ms Tan's explanation that the film was intended to relate the "personal stories and emotions of people who have been away from Singapore for an extended length of time", said Mr Tan.

Ms Tan had also explained that she had allowed interviewees to speak from their own perspective and had tried to provide balance to their views by using inter-titles and news clippings in the film. But while she acknowledged she had relied on reports in the press, she had not verified facts with the authorities.

Ms Tan has been informed of the FAC's decision.

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

The MDA has said these individuals gave untruthful and distorted accounts of how they had to flee and remain outside Singapore.

Hence, the MDA said, 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".