Freedom of speech?

There are many ways our freedom of speech could be curtailed without outright censorship. The recent week or so has thrown up a few examples which could be considered as such.

1. MDA proposes amendments to the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act, including arts groups self-classifying their works and more power to MDA. See our previous post.

2. Lee Wen was assaulted in Hong Kong after he criticised the detainment of Chen Guang after he staged a performance art work commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre. [News article]

3. PM Lee Hsien Loong sued blogger Roy Ngerng (The Heart Truths) for defamation over his article which points out similarities between the City Harvest case and the CPF. Read his blog post about it here.

Unfortunately, these are neither new nor shocking. Benjamin Franklin said this 300 years ago: “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” Will we heed his warning and do something about this before we have no freedom left?




Call for Feedback – Proposed Amendments to Public Entertainments and Meetings Act

MDA is planning to amend the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (PEMA) to “spur co-regulation”. This is important for the arts in Singapore, so please email them your feedback by 30 May.

Read the MDA news release here.

The 4 amendments mentioned in the news release are:

1. New scheme of Self-classification and Term Licensing.

Basically, event organisers can train at MDA to become registered content assessors so that they can self-classify their performances as well as those of other practitioners. It is not stated who can be trained and the contents of the training. There will also be Tier 1 and 2 licences issued to expedite the staging of multiple performances within the licence period. It is not stated how long a term would be and how much the various licences would cost.

2. Licensing a virtual performance streamed for exhibition at a public venue as a live performance at the same venue.

3. Giving MDA power to investigate and fine breaches. It is not stated what fines would be imposed for what breaches and it is also not stated that the police will relinquish their power.

4. Requiring venues with Public Entertainment Licence to get classification from MDA for putting up arts entertainment.

There is insufficient info given to provide a good sense of whether these amendments would be better for the arts but we think that this is definitely not a case of more freedom of expression and less government control.