SINGAPORE: A discourse unfolded on the Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) Instagram post on Tuesday (9 Jan), sparking discussion about the parliamentary question raised by Member of Parliament for Bishan Toa Payoh GRC, Saktiandi Supaat, regarding the Singapore-Palestine Film Festival.
In their caption, WUSG expressed confusion, stating, “We don’t quite understand this MP’s question. Why does a film festival require supervision?”
On Tuesday (9 Jan), Mr Saktiandi filed a significant inquiry about the regulatory supervision of the Singapore Palestine Film Festival, scheduled from 12 to 21 January 2024, at The Projector at Cineleisure.
Mr Saktiandi’s questions to the Minister for Home Affairs centred on three main concerns:
1. What regulatory supervision is being exercised over the Singapore-Palestine Film Festival?
2. What are the permissible limits for holding events that touch on the presently hostile conflict?
3. How is the balance struck between allowing Singaporeans to gain an increased understanding of the situation and preserving the racial religious harmony enjoyed in Singapore?
The Singapore Palestine Film Festival 2024 aims to raise cultural awareness and increase understanding of the challenges faced by the people of Palestine through a curated selection of 10 thought-provoking films.
The festival’s objective goes beyond educating Singaporeans about the Palestinian situation; it also strives to support humanitarian efforts.
Proceeds from the festival will directly benefit the Singapore Red Cross, aiding the relief and recovery efforts of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Partners in crisis-affected regions.
Netizens criticize MP’s alleged double standards and bias in handling Singapore-Palestine film festival inquiry
Under WUSG’s Instagram post, numerous netizens expressed their opinions on this matter.
Amongst hundreds of comments, many pointed out that the Member of Parliament (MP) did not raise any questions when the Israel Film Festival took place in Singapore last October at Shaw Theatres.
Some accused the MP of double standards, questioning the absence of inquiries about permissible limits or considerations for the ongoing hostile conflict during the Israel Film Festival.
A netizen raised concerns about bias, emphasizing that the previous Israel Film Festival was held based on “efforts to promote racial harmony and social cohesion.”
They questioned the disparity in treatment when it comes to experiencing Palestinian culture and asked about the message being conveyed.
Additionally, netizens brought up the recent “Israel Folk Dance” conducted by Kampong Glam CC, asking whether questions were raised about it, especially considering its removal due to sensitive issues.
The dissatisfaction expressed by netizens was not limited to WUSG’s social media platform; it extended to Mr Saktiandi’s Instagram post as well.
Some netizens emphasized that what is happening is not merely a hostile conflict but rather genocide and ethnic cleansing, stating, “And to be very clear, it is not a hostile conflict. It is a genocide and ethnic cleansing.”
Others expressed that the film festival serves as a valuable educational tool, contributing to the racial harmony of Singapore.
They concluded by expressing embarrassment at the MP’s perspective as an elected member of Parliament.
Minister Shanmugam affirms film classification process and safety measures amidst Israel-Hamas conflict concerns
Responding to Mr Saktiandi’s inquiries in his written response, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, clarified that films proposed for screening at festivals, including the upcoming Palestine Film Festival and the Israel Film Festival in October, must first be classified by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Following consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), IMDA assessed that the films proposed for the Palestine Film Festival do not promote violence or enmity against any group and can be screened with appropriate age ratings.
Mr Shanmugam addressed the limits for events related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, stating that permits will not be granted for public events and assemblies due to safety and security concerns, given the emotive and contentious nature of the conflict.
Recognizing public interest, he acknowledged the desire among some Singaporeans to express their views on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Various platforms, such as public dialogues, forums, and discussions organized by academic institutions, have provided spaces for diverse perspectives.
Emphasizing Singaporeans’ contributions to humanitarian efforts, Mr Shanmugam highlighted government support for public fundraising events organized by charities, including the Singapore Red Cross Society and the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation.
He noted that, as of November 2023, Singaporeans had contributed over $7 million in cash and in-kind donations to support relief efforts in Gaza.
Stressing the importance of donation drives with relevant permits, he clarified that contributions should be for humanitarian purposes, aiding civilians affected by the conflict and not intended for military or terror use.
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