In the opening scenes of the most daring film to come out of Singapore this year, a young man accosts the head of the board of censors in a supermarket and declares he is her biggest fan. \n"I know every film you have ever cut in the history of Singapore," he enthuses, before reeling off the names of 24 movies and 99 cuts made and thanking her for "shielding us from the evils of arts". \nThe sarcasm-drenched 13-minute film Cut was made without a permit by one of Singapore's few controversial filmmakers, 27-year-old drama teacher Royston Tan. \nSpeaking to foreign reporters recently, Tan said the movie, which has recorded tens of thousands of downloads from a local Web site, was made out of frustration at the Singapore government's famous "nanny state" mentality. \nIt followed 27 cuts being made to his highly acclaimed feature film last year about Singapore's gang culture, 15, which he said the government censored heavily because gang chants and other aspects were deemed a threat to national security. \n"Trying to enact censorship out of paranoia does more harm than good. Censorship closes the door on debate," Tan said, offering a much more subdued reflection of the issue than his main character in Cut. \n"Being our nanny, you are exposed to all the uncensored and controversial scenes. What I would really like to know [is] who looks after your welfare?" the besotted young man in Cut asks the censorship chief. \n"How do you resist the evil temptations to be a call girl when you watch the uncut version of Chicago, a drug addict when you watch the uncut Trainspotting, a lesbian when you watch Boys don't cry?" \nTan's release of Cut came at a sensitive time for the Singapore government, which has been trying to project a more open-minded approach after years of international headlines ridiculing the city-state. \nLaws banning things such as oral sex between consenting adults, the sale of Cosmopolitan magazine and chewing gum have proved wonderful fodder for correspondents and editors looking for quirky stories. \nOver the past year, the government has modified the oral sex law to allow the act between men and women, has announced gays are allowed to work in the civil service, has introduced reverse bungee jumping, let certain bars stay open 24 hours a day and said people can chew gum, albeit on a restricted basis. \nDeputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will take over as the nation's leader this year, acknowledged in January that the "nanny state" approach was having some negative impacts on Singaporean society. \n"If we want a more participatory citizenry, the government will have [to[ cut the apron strings and leave more matters to the private and people sectors," Lee said in an address to international businessmen. \nBut Tan and another prominent social campaigner, gay rights activist Alex Au, believe the government's efforts are little more than window dressing. \n"Every announced loosening-up has been followed by waffle and scaling back, if not altogether contradicted by subsequent decisions, as the gay example indicates," Au told foreign reporters in a separate forum. \nAu's People Like Us group, which represents Singapore's gay and lesbian community, has been trying to be registered as a society since 1996. \nHomosexuality is still illegal and the most recent effort by Au's group for registration failed in March. \nIn its rejection, the government said allowing People Like Us to form as a society would be "contrary to the national interest." \nAu said this attitude reflected a still-deeply entrenched conservatism within Singapore's government. The People's Action Party has ruled the majority Chinese population since the nation's independence in 1965. \n"My opinion is that this so-called liberalization... is really driven by economics -- to attract and retain talent -- and not by any belief in the lasting though intangible value of a liberal political culture," Au said. \nAnd despite Lee saying he was in favor of weakening "nanny's" role, he told parliament in April he was still much more comfortable with Singapore's social attitudes remaining 20 years behind those of the US and Britain. \n"If you are absolutely up at the leading edge in matters of social change, you are never quite sure whether the leading edge has taken a wrong turn, needs to back-track and make a U-turn," he said.
It has been 26 years since Nicholas Gould hosted his last Issues and Opinions radio show for ICRT a recording studio on Roosevelt Road. He remembers the familiar ‘whoosh’ as the door to the soundproof room closes and recognizes the carpet, but the recording equipment is gone, with half of the space being used for storage. Gould is filled with nostalgia as he greets his guests, two financial writers who are here to discuss Taiwan’s post-COVID-19 economy for his new podcast, Taiwan Matters. Gould had been thinking of revisiting his old career for a while, but being allowed access to
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was shown surrounded by pistol-toting generals while in the South masked veterans were socially distanced as the two sides yesterday separately marked the armistice that ended Korean War hostilities. The contrasting events marked 67 years since the ceasefire that left the peninsula divided and millions of families split by the Demilitarized Zone. In the North’s capital, Kim handed out commemorative pistols to dozens of generals and senior officers, who pledged their loyalty to him, state media reported. The North reported its first suspected case of novel coronavirus infection at the weekend — after insisting for months it had