By Sharanya Pillai
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has called on the government to review its classification of the party’s recent satirical video, alleging that the move was “selective and for political partisan purposes”.
On Monday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) issued an advisory to all political parties against the production and distribution of party political films. The agency stated that the SDP’s 1-minute clip, “Pappy Washing Powder”, contravenes the Films Act.
However, SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan argued that the Films Act has not been consistently applied to all parties, including the government.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday morning, Dr Chee compared the film to two light-hearted videos produced by the government — a Hokkien skit explaining the new MediShield Life scheme, and a Cantonese music video on the Pioneer Generation Package.
He maintained that “Pappy Washing Powder” was similar in its effort “to reach out to the public on issues through satire, parody and song”.
The video, which has garnered over 35,000 views on YouTube, features a “Pappy White” brand of washing powder that removes the words “transparency” and “democracy” from clothing — an overt criticism of the ruling People’s Action Party.
The Films Act was last amended in 2009, to allow for political films without animation or dramatised elements. Under Section 33 of the Act, the making and distribution of an unlawful party political film is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment for up to two years.
However, the MDA, in consultation with the Political Films Consultative Committee, has decided not to act any further. This is the first case involving a party political film, and the agency acknowledged that parties may not be fully aware of the requirements under the Act.
Nevertheless critical of the prohibition on future films, Dr Chee said: “The move cannot be seen as anything else other than a naked attempt to stop the SDP’s effective use of the social media to communicate our message to the people.”
He added that the ruling party should instead “match the SDP in creativity and resourcefulness when it comes to reaching out to the people”.