Knife fight in a phone booth

I was recently watching a movie called Knife Fight (2012), and although it wasn’t a great movie I was particularly intrigued by the statement that the lead character, played by Rob Lowe, made where he references US Presidential Campaigns as a “knife fight in a phone booth”, which evokes strong imagery of quick and brutal assault and ultimately the immense damage both physically and emotionally that people inflict on each other to get elected. Some politicians have been able to adapt to the visceral nature of elections and been able to find a way to “forgive” their opponents after an election season, after all, all things being equal they would have done the same thing.

Image from “To Singapore with Love” Facebook Page

Recently there has been a lot of discussion around the banning or restriction of viewing of the movie, done in a documentary style,  “To Singapore, With Love” which follows and interviews a number of Singaporean communist who are currently living in exile in other countries. The intent of the movie is to cover the perspective of the great political battle in Singapore in the 60-80s, from the perspective of the “loser” or the Communist. Naturally the response from the current sitting government has been stinging and unforgiving. I’ve listed some responses below.

It would also be a gross injustice to the men and women who braved violence and intimidation to stand up to the Communists, especially those who lost their lives in the fight to preserve Singapore’s security and stability, and secure a democratic, non-Communist Singapore. – Dr Yaacob Ibrahim via Channel News Asia

Why should we allow through a movie to present an account of themselves (that is) not objectively presented documentary history, but a self-serving personal account, conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over inconvenient facts than others which will sully the honour and reputation of the security people and the brave men and women who fought the Communists all those many years in order to create today’s Singapore? – PM Lee Hsien Loong via Today

There has been numerous criticisms from the liberal contingent in Singapore over the last few weeks as news surfaced of the films ban and the low opinion that the sitting government has of the documentary that they believed not to be objective. While I do agree with them that the overt banning of the film is a bad example of trying to be a more open society I do believe that the reason the current government has acted in this way is largely due to the emotional and visceral impact that the communist threat had on them when they were still very young.

I’m sure many people will see this as making excuses, which to an extent it is, but I think it’s important to remember that politicians like so many of us are just humans and carry the impact of psychological stresses with them as do we all. It would have helped if the film had chosen a more objective bent and had included communist members that had returned or continued to live in Singapore, and told their stories along with the men and women who choose exile over facing the music and accepting the cost of political defeat. I believe it would have made the film more complete and a better representation of the pscyhe and motivations of the various members of the MCP and the communist in Singapore and Malaya during that period.

And it is with that in mind that I don’t mind that the film is currently banned, though I do hope that it will shown in public in the near future as some of our older statesmen start to retire and leave public life. Perhaps as we continue to mature as a country we will look to examine some of the past choices that our parents and grandparents made, taking into consideration their context and their outlook. Rather than simply looking at things from our perspective which may or may not be entirely diverse or for that matter complete.


– #thebumblingtechnocrat

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