Exiles in 'To Singapore, with Love' shouldn't get chance to air 'self-serving' accounts: PM

Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin before the screening of her latest film " To Singapore With Love" at the 11 @ Century Hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Sept 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin before the screening of her latest film " To Singapore With Love" at the 11 @ Century Hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Sept 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

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

He did not budge on the Government's decision on local filmmaker Tan Pin Pin's "To Singapore, with Love", even as she awaits the judgement of the Film Appeals Committee.

He was responding to a question from Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh, on the conditions under which the more "controversial" points of history can be discussed. She brought up Ms Tan's film, speaking of a common base on which to build a "sense of historical consciousness" that can help define the future as well.

Many Communists - even long-serving leaders - have returned to Singapore, and "lived and died" here after accounting for their actions, Mr Lee said, citing senior leaders Eu Chooi Yip and P V Sarma, who left China for Singapore in 1991.

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

"Well, they have chosen not to do so, so that'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 facts in others..." said Mr Lee.

This, he said, would sully the honour of people who had battled the Communists in the years Singapore struggled to achieve democracy.

And as a medium, he added, a film is more convincing than the book.

"You watch a movie, you may think it's a documentary. It might be like Fahrenheit 9/11, very convincing. And I think we have to understand this in order to understand how to deal with this issue," he said.