Instead of superficial amendments, we call for (1) An FAC that is appointed by the community rather than appointed solely by the Minister(2) Records of FAC meetings should be made easily available for public scrutiny(3) Filmmakers should be allowed to attend FAC hearings (4) All appeals should be heard by the FAC, even for films refused classification on grounds of national security
(1) Retrieved 13 December, 2017 from https://www.reach.gov.sg/participate/public-consultation/info-communications-media-development-authority/public-consultation-on-the-proposed-amendments-to-the-films-act
(2) Retrieved 13 December, 2017 from https://www.imda.gov.sg/regulations-licensing-and-consultations/content-standards-and-classification/consultation-with-committees
The crucial issue - ignored by the amendments - is not the size of the FAC, but the powers of appointment. If the FAC is an independent panel, then the power to appoint FAC members cannot rest in the hands of a single person. Merely increasing the size of the FAC to promote diversity in terms of age, race, religion, gender, etc. has zero or little consequence if all members think and vote roughly in the same way, as they would tend towards if they were all appointed by a single person.
We therefore need a mechanism to ensure real independence and diversity of thought. Such a mechanism would delegate powers of appointment away from a single person. We propose a 2-stage process in which powers of appointment are shared between (1) multiple stakeholders, and (2) members of the public.
(I) Open call from stakeholdersA list of 10 different stakeholders can be identified as follows:
- Ministry of Education- Public universities- Law Society- Singapore International Film Festival- Film Community- Arts Community- AWARE- Voluntary Welfare Organizations- Non-Governmental Organizations- Opposition party with highest percentage of votes in last election
From this first open call, members belonging to organizations in the list can nominate themselves as FAC members. Since there are different organizations within each of the 10 different stakeholder groups, there may obviously be multiple nominations from within each stakeholder group. In such a case, the appointment should simply be decided by ballot from among the multiple nominations.
In the event that there are no appointments from any of the groups, then an additional space is opened up for the next stage.
(II) Open call from members of the publicTo make up the other 11 members of the FAC, there should be an open call for members of the public. Citizens who belong to organizations in the first list can also nominate themselves in this open call. This does not jeopardize the integrity of the process but merely reflects the differing extents to which stakeholders have an interest in the work of the FAC. Just as in the first stage, if the open call generates more nominations than necessary, the appointments are selected through ballot.
(III) The positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman Under existing legislation, the Minister appoints the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the FAC. Again, this procedure does not ensure independence of the FAC. We propose that once the 21 members are appointed through the 2-stage process outlined above, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman should be decided by voting from within the newly-constituted FAC.
The arguments put forth for this amendment are not convincing. On the contrary, placing too much power in the hands of a single person opens the door to abuses of power. Moreover, in regards to a film, members of the FAC are no less capable than the Minister of evaluating whether a film undermines national security or not. A film is an open text that does not require classified information in order to be evaluated. Moreover, if appointed through the process outlined above, the decisions of the FAC as a community-appointed panel is much more reflective of societal concerns and standards than the single perspective of the Minister.
And finally, the dangers which the proposed amendments seek to curtail, are already covered by existing laws. For example, if a film is considered to be inciting violence or hate, laws such as the Internal Security Act (Chapter 143) and the Sedition Act (Chapter 290) are more than sufficient to stop the dissemination of the film.
We call for an independent FAC that is appointed by the community, and whose procedures foster accountability, transparency, and fairness.
I will send the petition together with the list of names to Ms Lee Ee Jia (Director, Media Policy, IMDA). Except for matters to do with this petition, your personal info will not be used for any other purpose.
The public consultation closes on December 30. Act now before it is too late.
Lastly, the petition is not a substitute for your own submission, which is more important. The more people write in, the greater the likelihood of our voices being heard.
Other worrying aspects of the Films Act:- IMDA will NOT need a warrant to break into your homes and confiscate any of your "things"!!! (in fact, they can already do this in the case of so-called "obscene and party-political films")- the criminalisation of party-political films (who decides what is party-political?)- the dangers of self-censorship in the co-classification scheme (in particular, the potential $5000 penalty in the event of misclassification),- etc.
Details for submissions can be found here: https://www.imda.gov.sg/regulations-licensing-and-consultations/consultations/consultation-papers/2017/public-consultation-on-proposed-amendments-to-the-films-act