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Singapore GaGa pulled from Malaysia event after film censored

The film, which was slated to be screened at the Titian Budaya Festival in Kuala Lumpur, was censored after Malaysian authorities said a scene in it could be a "security threat", says Tan Pin Pin.

SINGAPORE: Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin has withdrawn her 2005 documentary, Singapore GaGa, from an event in Kuala Lumpur after Malaysian authorities censored it, she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday (Jan 3).

The film was slated to be screened in January at the Titian Budaya Festival, which celebrates Singapore-Malaysia ties. However, Malaysian censors said a scene in the film could be a “security threat” and “create doubt and restlessness” among citizens, and wanted it to be removed, said Tan.

Tan said she withdrew the 55-minute film from the event after Malaysian authorities rejected an appeal to the Chief Censor.

The Malaysian censors had told Tan to “erase (ventriloquist Victor Khoo) saying ‘animals’ in Malay and delete the subtitles of ‘animals’, which has a double meaning,” she wrote. The censor’s report added that the “dialogue can create doubt and restlessness among citizens and may finally cause a security threat, disturbance of public peace and national defence”, said Tan.

The censors were referring to a scene where the late Singaporean ventriloquist Victor Khoo and his puppet, Charlee, are entertaining children and he teases them by calling them animals in Malay, said Tan.

Singapore GaGa saw a sold-out theatrical release in Singapore. The film, which pays homage to the quirkiness of Singapore’s landscape, has been screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Festival of Three Continents and Bangkok International Film Festival.