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Singapore: Amended law to allow filming of “factual” political rallies

Good news: Singapore to lift ban on party political films. The Films Act will be ‘liberalised’.
Bad news: Live film recordings of political events are allowed but the events being filmed must first be held in accordance with the law.

Martyn See summarizes the amended provisions of the law:

Allowed: “Wholly accurate” depictions of “actual” events, persons and situations.
Not Allowed: Fictional films about political events, persons or situations.
Questionable: Documentaries containing ex-political detainees’ accounts of mental and physical torture under ISA detentions. Dramas depicting political events, persons and situations.

Allowed: Recordings of events that are held according to the law.
Not Allowed: Recordings of protests, demonstrations, political gatherings or any act deemed to be illegal under the law. Does new law empowers police to arrest video cameramen on site?
Questionable: Recordings of events that may not be deemed illegal at the time of recording.

Martyn asks if this video will be deemed illegal under the new law:

Cherian George thinks the government is amending the law to eliminate civil disobedience in the country:

The amendments that have been tabled in Parliament aren't only about opening up space for free expression. The Government is also taking the opportunity to tighten the noose around civil disobedience.

Under the proposed amendments, recording of live events such as rallies will be allowed as long as the event itself “is held in accordance with the law”.

The amendments are also in response to the activities of activist Chee Soon Juan and his group which films political rallies and uploads them on the internet. For example, they uploaded this protest video against the Singapore government's involvement with the Myanmar Junta.

Yawning Bread criticizes the amendments and accuses the government of refusing to engage the public in an open and fair debate:

Videos of any protest or street event that is not licensed by the government will still land the filmmaker in trouble. And as everyone knows, the way the government issues licenses is extremely biased. Only their events get a go ahead. Therefore only their events will be legally allowed on film.

What does this show about the People's Action Party? It really shows that they have no confidence that they can win people over in a fair and open debate. This very silly move undermines the legitimacy of their own election victories, begging questions as to why they think they cannot afford to act fairly.

mollymeek warns that even individuals who use their mobile phones to film illegal rallies can be arrested under the new law:

If you just take out your mobile phone and film an “illegal” political event you see in the streets, maybe the police can catch you. In fact, maybe even if you just take out your phone, the police might be able to confiscate it because they suspect you of filming illegal events

If you catch state officials doing illegal stuff, you cannot film it to expose them. Of course, we trust the PAP never to have any corrupt people, but who knows what could happen?

Ganga is saddened by the amendments:

As a (second class) Singaporean, I am deeply saddened today to discover that my government is trying to enact changes to the law that will effectively give itself (too much) power in controlling the freedom of normal Singaporeans in using their camera-phones or video cameras to capture protests, acts of activism and such on film

Read a pdf copy of the Films Act of 2009.

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