By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 11 September 2009 1724 hrs
SINGAPORE : The government has lifted a four-year ban on the film "Singapore Rebel".
The film, about Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan, is now rated M18, which allows those above 18 years old to view it. It is the first political film to be allowed since the Films Act was amended in March. This follows the formation of an independent Political Films Consultative Committee to assess if such films are suitable for public viewing. Even though the film was banned in 2005, "Singapore Rebel" has been extensively viewed by about half a million people online, according to its filmmaker Martyn See. In May this year, Martyn resubmitted the film to the Board of Film Censors for vetting. The Media Development Authority said on Friday that the Board of Film Censors had referred the film to the Political Films Consultative Committee (PFCC) for advice on whether it should be regarded as a party political film under the Films Act. And after reviewing the film, the committee said "Singapore Rebel" is a documentary and not a party political film. Amy Chua, chairman, Board of Film Censors, said: "The government has amended the Films Act to allow for more types of party political films that do not dramatise and/or present a distorted picture, as part of the government's move to further liberalise and expand the space for greater political discourse. The applicant (Martyn See) has requested that his film be assessed as a documentary without any animation and composed wholly of an accurate account depicting actual events, persons or situations. "The PFCC had assessed that the film would fall under the statutory exclusion set out in section 2(3)(e) of the Films Act." It is the first film to be assessed and allowed by the new committee. While the man behind the film has welcomed the move, he still has mixed feelings about the lifting of the ban. Martyn said: "First of all, it is symbolic. Symbolic because it has been watched by half a million people on YouTube and Google Video for the last four years. "In that sense, I am not too elated about it but on the other hand, it is a good step forward in the sense that other future film makers who want to attempt to do the same kind of films will know where the boundaries are." Martyn has no plans to screen the film any time soon. But he is hoping that his other film, "Zahari's 17 Years", about former political detainee Said Zahari, will get the green light as well. - CNA/ms