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Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

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Film on exiles made no attempt to offer holistic view

The Straits Times | Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

Director Tan Pin Pin at the screening of her film "To Singapore With Love", at the Freedom Film Fest in Johor Baru on 19 September 2014. The show was given a “Not Allowed for All Ratings” classification by the MDA in Singapore.

I have watched To Singapore, With Love and, with all due respect to film-maker Tan Pin Pin, it's really much ado about nothing ("To JB, for a movie"; last Sunday).

The documentary on exiles and their narratives made no attempt to offer a holistic view, let alone a balanced and objective one.

Are these exiles plugged into Singapore in this digital age? Do they stay abreast of Singapore politics? Do they have any intellectual discourse online with anyone here? Are they even interested after all these years? Do they sit back and sigh when they read about selfie-obsessed Singaporeans? What are their thoughts about the landmark 2011 General Election? These are just some questions off the top of my head.

As a politically informed individual, I would say the exiles came across as individuals who have got on with life, bitter in some parts but better in others. One would have to be very cynical to regard anything they say as incendiary. Even talk of communism and living in the jungles in the 1960s is too distant and detached for today's "selfie generation".

Yet, I would say the Media Development Authority did the right thing by prohibiting public screening of the film. While the documentary itself is ho-hum at best, I can see individuals and "free speech activists" making political capital out of it for their own agendas. Some may even attempt to position Ms Tan as a political critic, which she is clearly not. I am fairly certain she would reject that notion if put on the spot.

All this hype would make Singaporeans want to watch the documentary - and they should. Only then will they realise it is just hype and nothing more.

Anand A. Vathiyar


This article was first published on Oct 5, 2014.
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