Co-censorship: Old wine in new wine skin?

Corrie Tan from The Straits Times comments on the MDA’s co-regulatory classification guidelines which have been rejected by 45 arts groups who basically argue that this framework conflicts with artistic integrity and amounts to self-censorship:

Despite its good intentions, the scheme falls back into the same template of censorship, of allowing the authorities to be the arbiter of what is in the “public interest”, rather than trusting the artist to be responsible, and trusting the audience to be able to judge a work critically. As a result, on May 30, 45 arts groups registered strong objections to the scheme in a position paper addressed to the MDA.


Artists are often viewed here as a vocal minority of rabble-rousers separate from the man in the street. But these are not merely the grouses of a few. The 45 groups represent a large swathe of the arts community, including commercial heavyweights like the Singapore Repertory Theatre and Wild Rice, and traditional arts groups such as the Chinese Theatre Circle. It is also likely that their regular audiences will be supportive of their decision.


As the position paper puts it: “Artists and arts practitioners… are also citizens, parents, members of religious groups, live in the ‘heartlands’, and we pay our taxes – like everyone else. It is misguided to presume that artists’ interests are at odds with community’s interests.”


What is your take on this response? Is this new approach a collaborative step forward with MDA trying to partner with arts groups to ensure art is responsibly and sensibly produced and showcased, or is it a step back with MDA simply veiling its often criticized censorship approach under the guise of self-classification?






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