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Amendments to Acts looks more like restrictions than liberalisation.

New restrictions to Films Act introduced in the guise of liberalisation

Filmmaker Martyn See gives his take on the changes to the Films Act. The following are excerpts. Please visit his blog, Singapore Rebel, to read the full article. Also, visit the One Nation Under The Films Act Facebook group.

Excerpts:

The amendments to the Films Act bill has been passed in Parliament. State-owned CNA was the first off the blocks, calling it "a significant step to further liberalise and expand the space for political debate." The Straits Times and others will likely to parrot the enthusiasm, and there will be no end to the Government hailing the amendments as a sign of Singapore opening up.

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WHAT IS REALLY ALLOWED (where previously banned)

This is the only part that fits the bill of liberalisation (but is negated later by more new restrictions).

The new amendment states that you can now make, exhibit and distribute videos composed wholly of a political party's ideologies and manifestos. But here's the catch - the videos must be made "on the basis of which candidates authorised by the political party to stand will seek to be elected at a Parliamentary election." Does this mean that someone like Dr Chee Soon Juan, who is ineligible to stand for elections due to his bankruptcy, is not allowed to appear in such videos? Will something like this be criminalized?

WHAT IS NOW NOT ALLOWED (where previously allowed, or not stated)

Get ready, here are the bombshells:

1. You are now not allowed to make an unbiased and non-partisan political video that contains any form of animation. Like this.

2. You are now not allowed to make an unbiased and non-partisan political video that contains "wholly or substantially based on unscripted or "reality" type programmes." Something like this.

3. You are now not allowed to make an unbiased and non-partisan political video that depicts "events, persons or situations in a dramatic way." Something like this.

4. You are now not allowed to make an unbiased and non-partisan political video that contains scenes of an illegal political event. Something like this.

The full write-up on Martyn See's blog here.

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“These amendments will allow much leeway for political parties and election candidates as well as individuals to produce party political films. At the same time, this will allow for political debate in Singapore to remain serious and robust.

“We should not prevent people from recording video clips of political events held in accordance with the law or from making factual documentary videos of political issues and events. But we must continue to have limits against undesirable political materials, for example, fictionalised accounts or political commercials, even though it may not be possible to enforce these limits completely.

“Films with animation and dramatisation and distort what is real or factual will be disallowed, as the intent of the amendments is to ensure that these films do not undermine the seriousness of political debate.”

Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts, Lui Tuck Yew in Parliament, on amendments to the Films Act.

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