A friend sent me this video produced by Malaysian opposition party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Save the minor typo in one of the captions, I thought it was a pretty meaningful video, telling Malaysians that the DAP will speak out for those without a voice.
My friend informed me that the tall building that the little girl is running towards is the Dewan Rakyat — Malaysia’s Parliament. The man in the suit receiving the baton from the girl is the Leader of the Opposition, Lim Kit Siang. With him are fellow DAP MPs Kula Segaran, Chong Eng (the lady with the streaked white hair) and Teresa Kok (lady with the red skirt).
But folks, don’t try making this at home. A video like this if made in Singapore would be illegal — yes illegal! It would be considered a “party political video” under Section 33 of the Films Act, which states:
Making, distribution and exhibition of party political films
33. Any person who —
(a) imports any party political film;
(b) makes or reproduces any party political film;
(c) distributes, or has in his possession for the purposes of distributing, to any other person any party political film; or
(d) exhibits, or has in his possession for the purposes of exhibiting, to any other person any party political film,
knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the film to be a party political film shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
Isn’t it good to know that our friends up north have more freedoms than we do in this respect?
But there is still hope. Foreign Minister George Yeo, who was Minister for Information and the Arts when Section 33 of the Films Act was enacted, explained on Channel NewsAsia on 9 January 2007 about the purpose behind this piece of legislation. He said that it was to prevent politics in Singapore from becoming “so commercial where it all depends on packaging and how much money you are able to put into producing a programme.”
He added that the Government at that time “did not reckon this new media which allows you to produce the programmes quite cheaply” and felt that the Government has “got to adjust that position”.
Even MM Lee Kuan Yew, when asked by TIME magazine in 2005 about a documentary made by filmmaker Martyn See about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, which was banned, had this to say:
“Well, if you had asked me, I would have said, to hell with it. But the censor, the enforcer, he will continue until he is told the law has changed. And it will change…”
PM Lee is set to announce a Cabinet reshuffle soon. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is expected to be appointed the new Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. I hope one of the changes he makes as he takes up his new position is to repeal the laughable Section 33 of the Films Act from our statute books soon, and save our country from further embarrassment.