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Singapore parliament passes bill permitting political films

[JURIST] The Singapore Parliament [official website] amended [bill, PDF] the Films Act [text] Monday to allow for the broadcast of certain types of previously banned films featuring politicians or political parties. The amendment will allow political events to be recorded live [CNA report] and will permit documentaries and biographies of political figures as long as they are factual and objective. Politicians running for office can now use films as a medium to promote their candidacy. Films that still remain prohibited involve any parodies of government or politics. Currently there are steep fines of $73,000 or two years in prison for anyone in violation of the act.

Singapore has a history of restricting free speech, particularly speech critical of the government. Last week, a judge in Singapore ruled [JURIST report] that a Wall Journal Journal Asia [media website] editor was in contempt of court and personally liable for damages for publishing two editorials and a letter that criticized the impartiality of the city-state's judiciary. She was subsequently fined. In September, the Singapore Supreme Court sentenced US blogger Gopalan Nair [JURIST report] to three months in jail for insulting a judge. In July, Singapore's government rejected [JURIST report] criticisms from the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute [official website] after that group concluded that Singapore lacks an independent judiciary and fails to meet international standards of human rights by heavily regulating the international and domestic press and enforcing extreme defamation laws.

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