Film ban: The senseless story continues

416

By Ethan Guo

Phobia is an irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it.

Those who faced scary encounters with cats or dogs during their childhood end up avoiding these animals even as adults. The rest of us know there’s nothing to be afraid of.

When a country fears something however, it invokes its entire bureaucracy to stamp out the bug.

North Korea recently banned the popular Choco Pie snack from South Korea. The delicious pies are perfectly harmless, of course. But to the North, they are “an invasion on the stomach” – an assault on the very ideology that all things South are bad and evil.

The Media Development Authority’s ban on To Singapore, With Love betrays the deep-seated and senseless fears of our political leaders.

Films are emotional. They tell a story, and attempt to sway the opinion of their viewers.

Tan Pin Pin then must surely be a master in her craft, for besides the many awards she’s won at international film festivals, she’s now also earned the wrath of a government with lots of baggage from its past.

It’s true – people of my generation will never fully appreciate the struggles against communism from so many years ago.

In fact, Singaporeans are today so far removed from the historical events that led to the birth of modern Singapore that any fears of a revival in the support for communism can only be seen as absurd.

The war has been fought and the communists have lost. These are the facts in our history books that will never change.

In banning the film, the MDA accuses its subjects of giving “distorted and untruthful accounts”. Undoubtedly these individuals weave sorrowful tales of how tragic their lives have been, living in “exile”. They might gain some sympathy from the audience, but surely nothing more.

Am I naïve in not considering the people in this film to be capable of “undermining national security”? Could they truly be in danger of planting seeds of subversion in our population? Is it so wrong for criminals to tell their side of the story?

No. Be the bigger man. Even the last of our political prisoners has been freed from confinement on Sentosa.

These exiles have suffered and paid the price for their deeds. There would otherwise be no moving plight to tell.

MDA has unintentionally diverted attention to a film that would otherwise be largely ignored by most Singaporeans. Now more people than ever will attempt to download and circulate it, yearning for this forbidden fruit of “hidden truth”.

This fiasco should never have happened; a silly move leading to more distrust between government and the artistic community; a failure by the very organisation charged to (in its own words) “foster a cohesive and inclusive society”.

Dear Singapore, your fears are holding you back from growing up. Let it go. You’re almost 50. If not now, then when? With much love, your citizens.