Ode to the HDB point block

When will a design magazine/book anoint the HDB point block as a design icon? Its the most graceful, elegant and self-evident design object. Logically flowing rooms, well ventilated, well lit and it packs into a very small space. 100% utlitarian and gorgeous because of it. Will the PWD architect who came up with this amazing troupe please stand up. You deserve the cultural medallion, a Pritzker award. I have so many questions for you.

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My friends director Ying Liang and his producer co-writer and partner Peng Shan will be in Singapore this weekend to premiere their film The Other Half at Singapore International Film Festival on 22 April, 9.15, National Museum. This film is one of the nominees for the Silver Screen Awards. Their previous feature “Taking Father Home” was also honoured in the Silver Screen Awards last year but they could not make it here then. Much has been said about the video movement that sparked the Malaysian new wave. A similar video movement is also taking place in China (non government sanctioned of course) and their works, ultra low budget, self funded videos are finding their way beyond the university campuses, where these films are normally screened to festivals overseas. Pic below taken at Rotterdam 2006


Heard that Said Zahari 17 years has been banned under section 35 of the Film Act which gives the Minister of Information a discretionary power to prohibit the distribution or possession of any film he deems against the public interest. It is a pity. This film should be seen, especially by Singaporeans. For the documentary is about the price of our present day efficiency, wealth and ennui. In the early 60’s, during Singapore’s formation, at the height of the red scare, a whole echelon of politicians, intellectuals, artists had their lives brought to a standstill when they were incarcerated without trial as they were considered too far to the left. They were inconvenient to have around, too unruly and uncontrollable. On a craft level, I admire this documentary for its simplicity. Martyn See could have added so many other kinds of shots, but he does not. He focuses on the basic talking head, keeps it tight, and as one watches the Said Zahari speak, it all makes sense why this simple device was chosen. Its our loss.

Other good news around the region, Amir Mohammed’s Village People Radio Show is banned by Malaysia’s censors but can be seen at SIFF next week (just as Said Zahari 17 years could be seen at Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur last year)

Government funding of the Arts

A piece for the Institute of Policy Studies eNewsletter

“When public money is used to support the arts, it is often justified on the grounds that the arts, because it is one of the most direct expressions of a society, plays an important role as it enables that society to learn about itself. Since it is a public good and the free market does not consistently encourage its practice, government funding is necessary to sustain it.

While this is plausible in theory, its practice is fraught. Although national grant giving institutions give in the name of the citizens whose taxes support the funds, there are times when the criteria used to decide who to support are not as diversified as the constituents. There are several reasons for this…..” Read more