Banning another person’s reasonably expressed point of view does not create a racially harmonious society

I note with interest the banning of a film on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) on the basis of the film’s “skewed narrative”.

Is there a transparent criterion for what constitutes “skewed narrative”?

As cited in the article hyperlinked above, the following films have also been banned under the same “Not Allowed for all Ratings” (NAR) banner:

  1. the 2014 documentary “To Singapore, With Love” by Singapore film-maker Tan Pin Pin on the basis that Tan’s sympathetic portrayal of the exiles legitimised violence and subversion in politics; and
  2. a 35-second promotional clip featuring footage from the 2014 edition of annual gay rights rally Pink Dot.

Any film or documentary will always have a point of view. Does having a point of view constitute “skewed” or is it a question of having a point of view that does not suit the policies of the government at that point in time that is the problem?

In any given conflict, there are bound to be multiple sides (or at least two sides) of the story. Surely all sides should be given equal air time in order for the narrative not to be skewed?

By banning one version, isn’t the IMDA perpetuating the very evil it seeks to eradicate?

Films, art and the like have always been means of expressions by people. The audience then forms a view based on their own experiences. If anything, the message merely creates awareness. It does not have a hypnotic effect on the audience. As such, all sides of a story should be given its time of day without fear.

I am not suggesting that blatantly offensive content be permitted and I am sure that most of us would be able to agree on what constitutes content that blatantly stirs up trouble for the sake of it. For instance, the repeated use of racial or religious slurs simply for the sake of it and without context would clearly attract the NAR ban. Given that the film in question is one that has been internationally recognised, I doubt that it is one that stirs up hate for the sake of it.

I am not suggesting that all audiences will agree with the film’s point of view. But do we have to all agree in order for something to be shown?

Are we a society that will descend into racial war simply because someone expresses an aspect of the conflict through the experience of a particular group?

This is an international issue that the world has long been aware of. Would an award-winning film really cause that much controversy?

True racial harmony is when we can accept each other’s differences and still respect each other. Banning another person’s reasonably expressed point of view does not create a racially harmonious society.

In fact, I would argue that it creates misunderstanding and perpetuates suppression, repression and ultimately, a lack of understanding and bigotry.

How can understanding be forged if no one is allowed to explain their side?




* Article first appeared on The Online Citizen.



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7 Responses to “Banning another person’s reasonably expressed point of view does not create a racially harmonious society”

  • waste your breath!:

    Don’t waste your breath, they are only interested for you to see and read what is GOOD!!..they define what is good for you!!….

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  • Zyborge:

    It’s never about maintaining racial or religious harmony.

    If it was, the laws would not have been so lenient on racial or religious crimes incited in recent years.

    This ban is to just appease the right-wing Likud government and its false equivalence call of bigotry.

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  • Sputzy:

    superb piece. thank you.
    unfortunately, the situation here is that we should
    all think alike, specifically, like the govt. we’re
    required to be programmed like robots.
    which is why we need a committee to determine fake
    news — too few think these days.
    as is, the bulk of the fake news comes from the govt.
    so who’s going to tell them They’re wrong?
    hence, this country lacks creativity, innovativeness.

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  • Mayilavosky:

    Ah Ghui

    You are so wrong

    Banning of this film is not tantamount to“no One is allow to explain their side”.

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  • rukidding:

    Paying Obscene salaries has now “corrupted” each and everyone !

    Pappy now has a BIG MORAL issue !

    Seems like “doing things to appleased themselves” and “doing things to control their own interest” !

    To SUM IT UP……its ABUSES of AUTHORITY ( exactly like what his younger brother & his Sister had said in public )

    If a MUSLIM INDIAN can ….also “overnite” be “recognised” and become a MALAY MUSLIM and be “accepted” to participate in a very strict rule contest……then you know….there is a VERY BIG MORAL issue here !

    So,….I don’t see the need to “pretend” and “to ban” a Palestine / Isreal movie……the ban is only for “their own insurance” !!!

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  • PAP is anti-truth:

    Censorship in Singapore is one of the ways PAP keeps control of information. It does not want Singaporeans to know the WHOLE truth. It prefers to use half-truths to mislead/confuse Singaporeans.

    The recent committee to address the issue of “fake news” is another way to keep the truth from Singaporeans. PAP wisely co-opted Pritam Singh from WP to be part of the sham. If Pritam is smart he should get the committee to first define what is “fake news”. The definition should include misleading half-truths as fake news. If the committee disagrees then the real agenda would become clear and he should leave the committee.

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  • AiYoYo:

    In the ST article about the movie, it says “The documentary focuses on the Tamimi family, and two young girls, who are presented as the new faces of Palestinian resistance.” So the show is plainly propaganda to promote sympathy for the Palestinian cause and to plant in the minds of viewers the question that Israel is not willing to compromise with the Palestinians.

    The problem is that not everyone behaves as though there is a “meet me half-way” compromise. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is probably the most enduring example of this. Palestinians are not interested in compromise.
    “It contains the notion that the land which lies between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea be entirely placed under Arab rule at the cost of the State of Israel”

    So the best thing is to not become involved at all.

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