Fogged lens

The hurdles experienced in organising the screening of Burma VJ and some other short films documenting human rights abuses in Burma. Throws some interesting light on how the Singapore bureaucracy works. Full essay.

6 Responses to “Fogged lens”


  1. 1 Emerald 13 November 2009 at 09:40

    I admire your persistance.

  2. 2 Teck Soon 13 November 2009 at 11:36

    I love the story…it shows that Singapore has a THIRD WORLD bureaurocracy. In any developed country, upon being informed of such incompetence, they would immediately apologize and say, “Sorry about the timing errors, sir. Give me two minutes and I will immediately print out and sign a corrected permit. I am sorry about issuing the wrong type of permit, sir. Here is your refund.”

    In Singapore, NEVER expect an apology from ANYONE in government. After you informed them of the mistakes, they should have corrected the problem. By not correcting the errors and leaving you with a rubbish permit, one wonders if they actually wanted to ensure that your event would still somehow be illegal, just in case they later wanted to arrest people. In a police state like Singapore, one can never be too careful.

  3. 3 ps 13 November 2009 at 16:07

    This is hilarious! Thanks for a good read before the weekend hits. Thanks to TOC for linking this!

  4. 4 freeman 14 November 2009 at 00:54

    i was there on Tue. thanks Alex and co for organising the screening.

  5. 5 Legal Eagle 16 November 2009 at 11:58

    I’m not sure how relevant or accurate this is, but I have been told that Burma VJ was already shown on Starhub Channel 170 about a week ago.

    One then wonders the need for a permit in light of this.

  6. 6 yawningbread 16 November 2009 at 12:31

    Legal Eagle – What I heard was Burma VJ was shown on or around 1 Nov 2009 over the “Australia channel” , which may be the same as Starhub’s Channel 170 you referred to.

    The permit is not for the screening. It is to allow people to continue to remain in their seats after the film has finished, and for the director and others to take questions about the film. It is an “assembly licence”. Without it, people are not allowed to assemble inside a cinema hall, and humans are not allowed to talk to the assembled people.

    Your point about it being shown in Cable TV in fact is very useful despite this, because it begs a different question: What purpose does the censorship board serve? The censorship board gave the film an NC16 rating, meaning that we had to keep anyone aged 15 and below out of the hall. But what’s the point of that if children and young teenagers could watch the film at home?


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