Statement by civil society on MDA's decision to ban local film, "To Singapore, with love"

Chan Sun Wing reads his poem about changing to Thai citizenship
Chan Sun Wing reads his poem about changing to Thai citizenship in “To Singapore, With Love”
On 10th September 2014, Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that it has classified a local film, “To Singapore,  With Love” by Singaporean film maker, Tan Pin Pin, as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR).
The statutory board said that it has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals and said that under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating.
A group of individuals have come together to pen a statement in response to MDA’s banning of the film, stating that the censorship of the film does nothing to promote a vibrant, informed society and urge MDA to reconsider its decision.

Statement on the MDA’s decision to ban Tan Pin Pin’s “To Singapore, With Love”

We, the undersigned would like to express our deep disappointment at the Media Development Authority’s decision to ban Tan Pin Pin’s award winning documentary, ‘To Singapore With Love’.
Ms Tan’s film examines the lives of Singaporeans living in exile. In doing so, she explores an aspect of our nation’s history that is rarely discussed in the public sphere.
The MDA claims that the subjects in Ms Tan’s film gave “distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore”. We would like to suggest that rather than banning the documentary, authorities release their version of the events in question, so that viewers can make up their own minds. Indeed, we note that the MDA has already published a detailed press release stating their official account.
‘To Singapore With Love’ screened at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival and has won multiple awards all over the world. It has received high praise from filmmakers, critics and festival programmers. Many commentators have described it as essential viewing for all Singaporeans. Banning the film will only reinforce the view that our government is trying to limit discussion around our very own history.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that censorship does nothing to promote a vibrant, informed society. We thus urge the MDA to reconsider its decision.
Festivals, Awards and Accolades

  • Freedom Film Festival, 4-city Malaysian Tour. Petaling Jeya, Johor Baru, Kuantan and Penang
  • 64th Berlinale, Forum
  • Winner, Best Director, Muhr AsiaAfria Documentary Awards. Dubai International Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Asean Documentary, Special Mention, Salaya International Documentary Festival
  • Winner, Asian Cinema Fund, Busan International Film Festival
  • Art of the Real, Film Society of Lincoln Center, USA, 23 & 24 April
  • Seoul International Documentary Festival, 12 & 15 April
  • In Competition, Its All True, Brazil, 7-10 April
  • Busan Asian Cinema Fund Seoul Screenings at Indieplus
  • Jogja-Netpac Film Festival
  • International Documentary Film Festival, Kerala
  • Diaspora Film Festival, Incheon
  • In Competition, World Premiere, Busan International Film Festival

“Expertly crafted, enormously moving” – Film Society, Lincoln Center
“The only Singaporean film that truly deserves to be called a “must see”. A brave, intelligent, sensitive, heartbreaking and humbling work that left my head spinning” – Colin Goh
“All of Tan Pin Pin’s previous work has been moving towards this courageous point.” –Tony Rayns, Head, Jury, Dubai International Film Festival
“This moved me to tears. Every young Singaporean of my generation should see this, in fact all Singaporeans should see this. It’s a slice of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten, and hopefully properly acknowledged in the near future.” – Anthony Chen
“The most important Singaporean film I have ever seen.” – Woo Yen Yen
“Tender and searching, deserves to be watched by the largest Singaporean audience possible, and more than once.” – Chan Cheow-Thia
“”To Singapore, With Love” is a necessary film. That it is very well made is a bonus. Extremely moving and thought-provoking.” – Koh Jee Leong
“Stylistically concise, with so much heart.” – Kirsten Tan
“A moving, heartbreaking work on unrequited love for one’s country” – Traslin Ong
“A very delicate and intimate gaze into the lives of Singaporean political exiles and their families.” – Paolo Bertolin, Venice International Film Festival delegate
“If you feel touched, it may be because of the production’s impressive ability to weave sentiment from small details, food, poetry, songs, and photos.” – Cine21 (Korean cinema magazine)
List of Signatories:

Anthony Chen Audrey Wong Pam Oei
Boo Junfeng Alvin Tan Thum Ping Tjin
Ivan Heng Sun Koh Martyn See
Janice Koh Jasmine Ng Joshua Chiang
Royston Tan K. Rajagopal Han Yew Kwang
Lynn Lee Kirsten Han Lau Chee Nien
Ong Keng Sen Kenneth Lee Noor Effendy Ibrahim
Tay Tong Wee Li Lin Wahyuni Hadi
Charles Lim Chai Yeewei Lim Jialiang
Zhang Wenjie Lee Xian Jie Damien Chng
Kuo Jian Hong Jeremy Boo Eva Tang
T. Sasitharan Shelley Thio Kelvin Tong
Tan Tarn How Ken Kwek Terry Xu
Andrew Low Priscilla Chia
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