Video showing MBS in flames sparks police probe

A screenshot of the video made by Mr Rozario (above), who chose the landmark for ''cinematic effect''. -- PHOTO: CALEB ROZARIO'S FACEBOOK
A screenshot of the video made by Mr Rozario (above), who chose the landmark for ''cinematic effect''. -- PHOTO: CALEB ROZARIO'S FACEBOOK
A screenshot of the video (above) made by Mr Rozario, who chose the landmark for ''cinematic effect''. -- PHOTO: CALEB ROZARIO'S FACEBOOK
A screenshot of the video (above) made by Mr Rozario, who chose the landmark for ''cinematic effect''. -- PHOTO: CALEB ROZARIO'S FACEBOOK

Film student questioned over what he says was a special-effects assignment

A Singaporean film student has stoked the ire of netizens - and attracted the attention of the police - after posting a video that showed Marina Bay Sands going up in flames.

Mr Caleb Rozario, 23, is assisting in police investigations after he uploaded an animated clip showing the landmark being attacked by missiles on social media site Facebook in December.

The diploma student at private media school SAE Institute told The Straits Times yesterday that the video was a special-effects assignment.

"It wasn't a threat or a malicious video," he said. "I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks."

Responding to Straits Times inquiries, a police spokesman confirmed that a police report had been made but did not give more details.

On Sunday, Mr Rozario was called in to help investigate the offence of transmitting a false message, which comes under the Telecommunications Act. Offenders may be jailed for not more than seven years or fined not more than $50,000, or both.

Mr Rozario, who is slated to graduate in a few weeks, said the police went through computers and mobile phones belonging to him and his brother Jesse. They were allowed to leave with all their electronic devices after a few hours.

This is not the first time that he has sparked a controversy. He has drawn flak on several occasions for his online comments, such as those calling Singaporeans "spoiled".

"I was just venting. The average person complains all the time. The only reason it got blown up was because someone combed through my Facebook account, compiled everything slightly controversial and put it all in one post," he said, referring to an online compilation of his remarks.

Hundreds of angry comments were made against him on the Facebook page of news commentary website, The Real Singapore. Most netizens were convinced he was a foreigner making disparaging remarks against the country, with some demanding he be "deported" and calling his school project a "terrorist threat".

Mr Rozario, who is Eurasian and has served national service, said people online assumed he was a foreigner because of his name - which may have stirred up some anti-foreigner sentiments as well.

Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun said the case showed how people get "reckless" and still cannot "grasp that things they do online have implications in real life".

Dr Liew, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, said: "Even though cyberspace is a vast ocean, Singapore is a very small country. What people do and say gets noticed very quickly compared to, say, in a big country like the US. And it definitely has repercussions offline."

asyiqins@sph.com.sg

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