Film-maker tells Sin Ming residents about online streaming of his film on culling of estate's wild chickens

Jun Chong was stirred by the culling of free-ranging chickens in Sin Ming to make a short film. He is going door to door to tell residents in the estate that he is streaming it online.
Jun Chong was stirred by the culling of free-ranging chickens in Sin Ming to make a short film. He is going door to door to tell residents in the estate that he is streaming it online. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - After failing to find a place in his Sin Ming neighbourhood to screen his film, a film-maker is going door to door to tell residents in the estate that he is streaming it online.

Mr Jun Chong was stirred to make the short film by the culling of free-ranging chickens in 2017 in the neighbourhood of Sin Ming Court.

The 28-year-old, who grew up and lives in the estate, told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Jan 15) that he is arming himself with postcards carrying details of the film for distribution to the estimated 1,200 households in Sin Ming Court.

He had written the script for the 16-minute film New Resident immediately after the culling, he said.

"Back in 2017, I was very angry that the authorities decided to cull the chickens after receiving only 20 complaints from an estate with nearly 1,200 households."

He added: "I had an image of an auntie running around the estate, capturing the chickens to save them. So I immediately wrote the script."

The film, starring veteran theatre actress Goh Guat Kian, is about a woman who provides refuge to the free-ranging chickens in her Housing Board flat after she spots enforcement officers catching the birds to stop their number from growing.

The story was formed by the public outcry against the then Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority for its culling of 24 free-roaming chickens after it received 20 complaints about noise and concerns about bird flu.

Mr Chong said that after the film was completed last October, he wanted to premiere it for his fellow residents at the open-air amphitheatre in the estate.


Filmmaker Jun Chong chatting with Lee Kin Pang, an employee at Chai Yu Trading in Sin Ming Ave, to raise awareness of his short film, titled New Resident. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

But his request was rejected by the Thomson Sin Ming Court residents' committee and Bishan North Community Centre (CC), he said.

"They said the film puts the enforcement agencies in a bad light and that they needed to maintain a good working relationship with the authorities. They even asked me to adjust the film to be more neutral," he added, showing ST the e-mail responses he had received.

He sought help from Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Mrs Teo called him about two months later and suggested that he screen the film at Bishan North CC. But the amphitheatre would not be conducive for a film screening, he said the minister had told him.

Also, "it didn't make sense to me to screen it at Bishan North, because who from Sin Ming would go all the way there to watch it?" he added. Some residents had told him as much when he spoke to them.

"So I decided to release New Resident online, and I've printed postcards to distribute door to door to the residents, so they will know they can watch it online," he added.

During the filming, done over three days in July last year, Mr Chong said several residents told him to ensure that he and his crew do not capture or harm the chickens.

"I spent more time convincing them we were not catching the chickens than on writing the script," he added.

"This film was made in conjunction with Sin Ming residents, so I want them to be able to see it too," he said.

Mr Chong hopes it will spark a conversation between those who want the free-ranging chickens to be left alone and those who want them relocated.

Last June, more than 90 per cent of Sin Ming Court residents voted against removing the chickens from the estate in a poll done by the Thomson Sin Ming Court residents' committee.