MARCH 11, 2005
Posted: April 8, 2005

Martyn See, documentary filmmaker

Independent documentary filmmaker Martyn See pulled his short documentary, “Singapore Rebel”, from the Singapore International Film Festival after officials warned him that he might face criminal charges if the film was screened at the festival in April. The film chronicles the civil disobedience of opposition activist Dr. Chee Soon Juan.

The Board of Film Censors told festival director Philip Cheah on March 11 that the film was objectionable under the Films Act as it was deemed a “party political film,” according to a report in The Straits Times. Screening such films could carry penalties of up to two years in jail, and fines of up to S$100,000 (U.S.$60,000). Cheah was “advised” to inform See to withdraw his film “whereby the matter would be dropped, failing which, the full extent of the law would apply,” said festival director Lesley Ho in a subsequent email to See provided to CPJ.

On March 11, Ho told See that he should agree to a withdrawal immediately, because the Board of Censors had wanted an answer the same day. See reported on his blog that he was told he should not make an issue out of this, and that if he disagreed, “they will come after you, Martin.”

The Board of Film Censors did not speak to See directly on the matter. See does not know if he will be charged for making the film, but told CPJ that he was concerned that his house might be raided in order to confiscate his master tapes.