Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tan Pin Pin's "To Singapore, with Love", my thought

Singapore banned local documentary "To Singapore, with love" by Tan Pin Pin. This documentary is about former activists and student leaders who fled Singapore in the 60s to 80s. I guess the film was banned because this documentary failed to include inputs from Singapore government. This is perplexing considering that the documentary was clearly about historical fact and hence, to omit the view from the Singapore government (or at least the National Heritage Board of Singapore), would usually be seen as a biased approach to produce a documentary. Or, am I wrong and Tan Pin Pin did indeed approach the Singapore government/agencies to procure the materials?

To include just a sided view of historical event is dangerous and unjust. Can you imagine what will happen if the justice court/system starts hearing only sided testimony before passing sentence? Would it be just? Similarly, a documentary with sided testimony is considered unjust.

If Tan Pin Pin had instead produced National Geography-type of animal documentary, she wouldn't have encountered any problem by any way she intended to narrate the story, especially considering that animals can't talk. Hence, her work wouldn't have been banned in Singapore.

In my opinion, a documentary about historical events should be "neutral" and the narrator (in this case, Tan Pin Pin) should be covering testimonies and facts/material from all sides instead of taking on side. A documentary with contradictory testimonies (from different sources) is more credible and mature than inclusion of just one side of the story.

Having said that, I guess that to have a documentary that is provocative and controversial is considered more appealing and successful than "safer" alternatives.

Just a thought.

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