Art is ultimately a form of 'remaking'. Printed in the ST forum 24 July 2003
We refer to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's calls for "Community Champions" to adopt the recommendations made by the Remaking Singapore Committee ("Now a search for 'remaking' champions"; ST, July 3).
The arts community is very concerned with censorship and
freedom of expression, and we are glad that the Committee has engaged these
issues. However, in seeking to respond to Dr Balakrishnan's calls, certain
difficulties arise that are of broader relevance to the "Remaking Singapore"
debate. Firstly, we appreciate that in the spirit of diversity, each sub-Committee
developed its own set of recommendations. For instance, while the "Beyond Credit Cards" recommendations would not lead to a significant increase in space for freedom of expression, the "Beyond Cars" Sub-Committee suggests that special no-censorship zones should be set up. Then there is the Censorship Review Committee, which may say something else again.
But with the full reports of the Remaking Singapore and the Censorship Review yet to be circulated to the public, how can we thoroughly debate the recommendations, let alone "champion" them?
Secondly, one thing that seems clear from the available
information is that the basic assumptions about censorship in Singapore
have gone unquestioned. The current censorship regime looks set to remain,
albeit in a watered-down
In a proposal submitted last year to the Censorship Review Committee bymembers of the arts community, it was precisely our aim to reevaluate these basic assumptions. While we naturally welcome any initiative that will relieve Singapore of the burdens -- financial, bureaucratic and otherwise -- of censorship, one thing we simply cannot do is "champion" a system that places fundamental restrictions on expression and creativity.
Our responses to the proposals of the Remaking Singapore Committee have been and shall remain twofold. We applaud any attempts to better the lot of audiences and artists in Singapore that are based on a genuine understanding of how and why art is made and experienced.
However, we shall continue to take issue with the profoundly patronising assumptions that Singaporeans are not yet "mature" enough to make up their own minds about what they and their children see, hear and do. Let us not forget that art is ultimately a form of "remaking". Fundamentally, the aspirations of the Remaking Singapore Committee and the Censorship Review Committee are not so different from ours.
The Necessary Stage
Theatre Training & Research Programme (Practice Performing Arts School)
FOCAS, Forum on Contemporary Art & Society
and the following as individuals
Paul Rae, S7376856Z
Lee Weng Choy, S2621942F
Lucy Davis, S7060025J
Tay Tong, S1612146J
Alvin Tan, S1585409Z
T Sasitharan, S1297115Z
Audrey Wong, S6809151I
Gene Sharudyn bin Mohamed Yahya, S68926806J
Ben Slater, G565962K
Kaylene Tan, S7339235G
Susie Lingham, S1718493H
Ray Langenbach, Z8113278
Charlene Rajendran, F1726449N
Ngiam Su-Lin, S7407734Z
Sim PernYiau, S7335381E
Noor Effendy Ibrahim, S7317025B
Claudia Cellini, 140652716
Eugene Tan, S7804926Z
Adelynn Tan, 7716863Z
Alvin Lim, S7817437D
Lee Ban Loong
Amy Lim, S7938943I
Philip Holden, S2655218D
Kok Heng Leun, S1756247I
Mandy Tan, S7509759Z
Chan Li Han, S7916717G
Khoo Ee Hoon, S1741743F
Chiu Wei Li
Elaine Pang, S8122686E
Kim-Kyna Tan, S7216400H
Foo Hwa Ming, S7311323G
Sabina Sahni Davison
Peter Sahni Davison
Beatrice Chia, S7416904Z