Government had made it clear that it would allow former members of the Communist Party of Malaya to return if they agreed to be interviewed on their past activities to resolve their cases.
JOHOR BARU — More than 400 people — a vast majority came from Singapore, including students, working professionals and retirees — turned up yesterday at a Johor Baru hotel for the screening of a documentary on Singapore political exiles that has been disallowed for public screening in the Republic.
The film, To Singapore, With Love, directed by film-maker Tan Pin Pin and featuring interviews with Singapore student leaders and activists now living in Thailand, the United Kingdom and Malaysia after having fled the Republic between the 1960s and 1980s, was shown as part of Malaysia’s Freedom Film Festival.
Organisers said about 350 members of the audience were from Singapore. Among these, about 150 had arrived on four chartered buses.
Interest in the film increased after the Media Development Authority (MDA) earlier this month classified it as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR), saying its contents undermined national security “because the legitimate actions of security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals”.
The film was screened in two function rooms in the11@Century Hotel, and several people who turned up for the screening said they had come to learn more about Singapore’s history. Freelance graphic designer Sim Xin Feng, 21, said she wanted to know more about Singapore and why the film was classified as NAR. Student Wong Xinyuan, 20, who is studying liberal arts in Germany, said she had some prior knowledge about the political exiles and “wanted to know what they think”.
Some relatives of the exiles were also among the audience, said Mr Lim Jialiang, who had organised the bus charters with three friends. Mr Lim, 24, said he had to turn away about 200 people and that he MDA was heartened but not surprised by the response.
Ms Tan took questions from the audience after the screening and said she had put together the 70-minute documentary — which features, among others, student leader-turned-political exile Tan Wah Piow and Dr Ang Swee Chai, whose husband was the late student activist and lawyer Francis Khoo — from about 15 hours of footage. She said she had posed three questions to the exiles: When and why they left Singapore, and what they had done with themselves since. She reiterated her disappointment with the MDA’s rating and when asked what she had learnt from making the film, said: “I suppose when something moves you, you just have to follow your instincts.”
The MDA issued the rating last week after the National University of Singapore Museum submitted it for classification, with plans to screen it at an event, along with two other films by Ms Tan. The authority also said the individuals in the film had given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they had come to leave and remain outside Singapore. It added that the