The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has claimed that it has not interfered with the production of the stage play, The LKY Musical.
The ministry’s statement comes after an actor involved in the production, Tan Shou Chen, blogged about the alleged interference on Monday.
Mr Tan, who plays former deputy prime minister, Toh Chin Chye, in the production, had written that Tony Petito, who wrote the musical, has given a historical biopic treatment to the piece, and “has been extremely open to inputs from a government official, Janandas Devan [sic].”
Mr Tan wrote:
“Factual corrections were made to the script, including the late hour (4 days before previews) addition of the latter part of the famous broadcast of Mr Lee crying. Dex [the director] communicated to the company of actors that this was suggested to Tony to be added to the script when it was communicated that speech will be broadcast again in it’s [sic] entirety nationwide on Aug 9th, and that there will be a concerted effort to share the latter part of that broadcast.
“To put it extremely bluntly, it reeks of the oily propaganda machine.”
The MCI, however, has disputed this.
According to a TODAY report on Friday, the ministry said it was in fact the producers of the musical who had approached Mr Janadas for advice on certain aspects of the play because they needed help with “historical accuracies” concerning the script.
“In a statement, Metropolitan Productions said Mr Janadas, who is from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), had provided “invaluable feedback” on the accurate chronology of events.”
The producers said:
“At no time did he or anyone else ask us to change any part of the story.”
Mr Tan removed his blog post soon after, for unknown reasons.
Mr Janadas Devan, who is the son of Singapore’s former president, Devan Nair, was appointed to the position of Chief of Government Communications in 2012, under the purview of the MCI.
He was also a former editor with the Straits Times, and had “served as the paper’s leader writer for many years, writing unsigned editorials on a wide variety of subjects.” (See here.)
Mr Janadas is also currently the director of research institute, The Institute of Policy Studies, at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Questions about his dual roles at both the MCI and the IPS were raised in Parliament in March 2014 by Workers’ Party MP and chairman, Sylvia Lim.
Ms Lim asked the MCI MInister, Yaacob Ibrahim, if he felt “that such a dual role…is not quite a desirable state of affairs because it might raise some questions about the role of the IPS”.
In his reply, Dr Yaacob said the ministry “had considered his appointment seriously” and felt that it is “very clear that what IPS has done is very different from what the CGC is supposed to do.”
Dr Yaacob said the Government did not see any conflict of interest in Mr Janadas’ roles.