To Singapore, With Love

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Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore, With Love, a documentary featuring Singaporean political exiles, will not be allowed for public screening. The Media Development Authority (MDA) said the film “undermined national security.”

The biggest feeling in response I have to the MDA’s statement is disappointment. As a person with a functioning brain, and a person who was born in and grew up in Singapore, I also feel insulted with the MDA’s official stance on the matter.

This isn’t a fictitious movie that depicts a disrespectful portrayal of Singapore’s people or its culture. It is a documentary that includes content pertaining to certain “periods in Singapore’s history that are fraught with controversy.”

A documentary is defined as follows: “A movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.”

It is sad and shameful that Singaporeans are not being allowed to hear these people’s side of the story.

Are Singaporeans too dumb to handle the facts? Can they not be trusted to make their own conclusions from a variety of sources?

Why continue to hide and keep things covered up, when there is, according to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s 2013 New Year Message, a “clean and transparent system of governance”?

As Alex Au wrote in his blog post, “Trust can never be restored by concealment and gagging. Only openness will do.”

Historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin had this to say via a Facebook status update:

“In its statement, MDA said it had assessed the contents of the film, and decided that it undermined national security. It added that legitimate actions taken by security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.”

The MDA’s statement is wrong. Research has proven that the primary aim of Operation Coldstore and other instances of repression was to remove political opposition to the Singapore government. If the MDA disagrees, they should ask the ISD to release documentary proof and allow us historians to revise our research. Having seen this film last week, the one thing that all the interviewees have in common is a deep, abiding love for Singapore. This movie reinforces national security by demonstrating the deep loyalty and commitment of Singaporeans to Singapore, even those forced unjustly into exile.

People deserve to know the facts pertaining to their own country’s history.

I, for one, always appreciate facts from sources other than watered-down, sanitised social studies textbooks which sometimes present only one side of the story.

UPDATE #1: There is a Google form set up by the film and art community to collate more signatories in support of this film. More information on Google and Facebook.

UPDATE #2:

Tan Wah Piow’s statement on the banning of the film:

To ban the film would be an infringement to Article 14 of the Singapore Constitution which protects the freedom of expression. The only way to circumvent Article 14 of the Constitution is to invoke the security threat mantra. This would be implausible in any democratic country where the rule of law interprets “security threat” only in the strictest and narrowest sense.

But Singapore is a different story. That is why the Cabinet has to be very highly paid, because our ministers and Prime Minister are very clever.

But the people are not stupid either. One day, the people will know who is the serial abuser of the Singapore Constitution.

Author Interview, Christopher Profeta

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Author Interview #41, with Christopher Profeta, who writes “stories for everyone to read”!

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Hi Christopher! Please describe yourself in 5 words:

Christopher Profeta

Father of two little girls.

Please share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

Life in Pieces

Blurb (Life in Pieces): An unemployed stay at home dad who opens the paper one morning to find he is running for congress, a young man struggling to hold onto a life that is slipping away while meeting the love of his life, and a crazy old man who couldn’t care about any of this all cross paths to show that we are never too old to come of age.

Excerpt:

Though it didn’t make much of an impression on him at the time, the image came back to Mike later, when he realized who this girl was and who she would be, it came back to him every time things happened to him, good or bad, that seemed to have no explanation. It came back to him every time he wondered whether or not there was a controlling force in the universe, some kind of a god or something like God that made things happen for a reason. He would ask himself this question frequently, and that image would come, of her standing there at that party, her nervous smile slowly becoming more confident as time further removed him from the memory, in small ways altering both him and the memory itself, as if the image were saying to him, “yes you idiot, of course things happen for a reason.”

— Christopher Profeta, Life in Pieces

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

“Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone’s hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted–wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don’t look at me. If you don’t, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.”

— Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

I am proud to be an independent writer. As part of the release of “Life in Pieces,” I hosted a radio show about the pros and cons of self publishing vs. traditional publishing. You can listen to it here (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/life-in-pieces-release-party/2012/02/28/life-in-pieces-release-party).

To me, there’s something exciting about doing this outside of traditional means. There’s a stigma about it, but that seems silly to me.

When there was an explosion of independent movies in the 1990’s I didn’t hear people saying the people who made them weren’t real filmmakers, or that they were only doing it themselves because they weren’t good enough to do it with the backing of a major studio. Yet you hear this about indie authors all the time. It seems like a double standard to me, and I think it comes from the fact that a vocal minority of people, most of whom work or study in university English departments, think that books need to be stuffy and traditional, and there’s no room to do anything differently. I disagree, not only on the content and writing style side of things, but also on the business side.

Yes, it’s always good to challenge the status quo ;)! What is your definition of “good writing”?

Good writing is writing that is allowed to be itself, it isn’t forced. Good writing just happens, and good writers let it happen. It is very easy to spot and very painful to read something that a writer has tried to form into something he or she wanted it to be. Anyone can have an idea and put it into words, but only a select few can let the story tell itself.

Well-said. Please share your #1 tip for writers:

My advice for other writers is to trust yourself. The best advice I ever got was that a story will often write itself, and a good writer will let it rather than force the story to be what he or she wants it to be. It took me a long time to be able to do that, but my writing was so much better when I did. It’s very good life advice too, to just let go and not force things to be the way you want them to be. That’s actually one of the major themes in Life in Pieces.

Excellent! Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Much thanks to Christopher for stopping by! Be sure to check out his website for more info about Christopher and writing samples of his work.