Singapore Bans Film: Protecting National Security Or Suppressing Free Speech?

Singapore Bans Film: Protecting National Security Or Suppressing Free Speech?
Public_Domain_Photography / Pixabay

Singapore’s government has announced that it will ban a film entitled “To Singapore, With Love”, which explores the story of nine dissidents who are living in exile from Singapore. The Singaporean government has stated that the move was to protect national security, but it’s hard not to wonder if this move amounts to the suppression of free speech.

The film was rated by the Media Development Authority as “Not Allowed For All Ratings” after the agency determined that the documentary could pose a threat to national security. The rating essentially amounts to a ban. The film was submitted for review by the National University of Singapore Museum.

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Documentary Looks At Controversial Figures

The documentary details the account of Singaporean dissidents who fled Singapore during the communist crack down in the 1950’s and 60’s. The dissidents now live across the world in places such as the United Kingdom and Thailand.

According to the review agency, the accounts of the individuals who fled in exile were skewed and did not give an accurate account of what really happened. This was apparently the principle reason why the government banned the film.

Singapore cracked down hard on the communist movement that was growing in the city in the 1950’s and 60’s. This helped the country prevent any sort of serious communist movement from taking hold. Singapore was a small back water port then, and was a relatively undeveloped country.

The communist movement, meanwhile, was gaining supporters, but as history has proven, the communist regimes of Asia were doomed to fail.

Singapore’s Government Should Confront Film

Perhaps the documentary film is skewed, and we couldn’t blame the Singaporean government for not wanting false claims being presented. Still, in the age of the internet, people will still be able to find the film, somehow, someway.

Instead of banning the film, the Singaporean government should allow it to be shown, and should then issue a rebuttal. Communist regimes across Asia turned out to be brutal, while Singapore itself has emerged as one of the world’s wealthiest and most stable countries. Singapore may be small, but it carries a lot of weight in the international community.

By confronting the issue in the open, the Singaporean government would educate its own population and lay to rest criticisms from the exiled Communist leaders. By banning the film, discontent and doubt could still fester.

Besides, Singapore is now a highly developed country and over time its citizens will become more vocal and critical. This is natural and an outcome of increasing living and education standards. By engaging with its citizenry, the Singaporean government will create a more harmonious society, if nothing else.

By refusing to show the film, the Singaporean government is suppressing free speech, and worse, not bringing criticisms to light so they can be dispelled.

Leaders Too Old To Be A Threat

Singapore did have to confront a serious communist movement, and in order to do so heavy handed tactics were needed. Given the experience of China under Mao, the Pol Pot Regime in Cambodia, and the on-going oppression in North Korea, the Singaporean government was arguably justified in its harsh crack down on communists.

Several influential communists were forced out of the country. These leaders have since lost most of their influence, and all of their youth. The leaders now living in exile are all over the age of 60 and no longer pose a serious security threat. Even if said leaders still cling to their views, the Singaporean government has already proven that its style of governance was better.

And the Singaporean government also proved that its system trumped the command-economy style communist countries that took hold of several Asian countries. The Singaporean government’s embrace of the global capitalist economy helped the country emerge as a influential manufacturing and service hub.

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