Function 8 and Community Action Network (CAN) are deeply troubled and saddened by the arrest of artist Seelan Palay outside Parliament House on Sunday, 1 Oct 2017. He has been released on police bail since yesterday and is subjected to severe restrictions including restrictions on travels.

Seelan Palay was merely practising his profession as an artist when he demonstrated how a free mind cannot be constrained by space such as Hong Lim Park. The video at illustrates his free spiritedness when he started his performance in the muddy park of Hong Lim and walked along South Bridge Road to his destinations at City Hall (now National Gallery) and Parliament House where he was arrested.

All along the way, there was no agitated crowd or violence. Artist Seelan Palay’s demeanour throughout his journey was that of a serious art practitioner. He did not indulge in words except to briefly explain his art and answer questions posed to him by police officers.

Article 14 of our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression, assembly and association. We do not see any harm or damage that can be caused to Singapore by artist Seelan Palay’s performance. Indeed his artistic performance contributes to the making of Singapore as a city of art and culture. His performance definitely does not warrant his arrest.

Further, bystanders watching artist Seelan Palay’s performance and ultimate arrest were intimidated and harassed by police officers who demanded their personal identity card particulars. This is totally illegal and should cease immediately as Singapore is not at war or under a state of emergency.

We call upon the Singapore police to cease harassment and intimidation of activists and release artist Seelan Palay from all restrictions.

4 Oct 2017

Function 8 and Community Action Network

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Statement on Police Investigation into Anti-Death Penalty Supporters

4th September 2017

Function 8 condemns the police harassment of anti-death penalty activists who held a vigil outside Changi Prison on the night of 13 July 2017 for Prabagaran Srivijayan who was to be executed at dawn on 14 July 2017. Members of Prabagaran’s family were at the vigil, and anti-death penalty activists turned up to support the grieving family members.

Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore guarantees the right of citizens to freedom of speech, expression and assembly. The act of issuing and having the police
personally delivering letters which require the said activists to appear at police stations to assist in investigations, almost two months after the event, goes against the spirit of our Constitution and is a waste of Police resources.

We call upon the Minister for Home Affairs to rescind the action of the police, to cease the investigation, and to stop the harassment and intimidation of citizens participating in civil society activities.

Function 8 Ltd


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Call for Entries: Citizen Cinema


Function 8 is proud to announce the establishment of a new programme called Citizen Cinema, and call for entries as part of Freedom Film Festival Singapore. The programme will feature creative, critical and thought-provoking films on Singapore to be screened during the festival at The Projector on 12 November 2017.

Citizen Cinema aims to showcase and foster the production of films which highlight social, cultural, political and environmental issues in Singapore, and is open to entries from established filmmakers, first-time filmmakers, students, video bloggers, and citizen journalists.

A collection of selected films from the entries will be screened at the event, and 3 of the most notable films will be awarded $500 each.

Submission Guidelines

Entries of all lengths and genres will be accepted, including narrative films, documentaries, music videos, animated or experimental films. Films may be produced by individuals or groups. They may also be shot on any device, from Digital Camcorders to DSLRs to mobile phones. The films can be as short as 1 minute or as long as 45 mins, so long as the subject matter of the film remains relevant to issues in Singapore that you think need to be documented, discussed, and addressed.

There is no submission fee to Citizen Cinema and each applicant may submit multiple films. To be eligible, your film/s must have been completed after January 2015.

The closing date for entries is 30 September 2017 and successful entrants will be notified on 6 October 2017.

How to Submit

Submissions are only accepted via online transfer (eg. Google Drive, Vimeo, Links to download your film can be included in the online submission form. If you are submitting multiple films, each individual entry will require a separate form. The completed form/s should then be emailed to

Download the entry form here.

We look forward to all your amazing films!

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MRT protest






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Statement (6 June 2017)

MRT protest
In 1987, many of the detainees of Operation Spectrum suffered assaults, cold-room interrogations, severe sleep deprivation and solitary confinement for a fabricated conspiracy. Perpetrators of that violence included employees of the State. These are detailed in a recent Function 8 publication, 1987 Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On.

We deeply regret that citizens who were reading this book and chose to express their views publicly against the abuses of Operation Spectrum are to be subjected to police investigation.

It is deplorable that there are people who try to muzzle those who want the truth—calling for justice for those who suffered detention without trial. All the more lamentable that this is happening in Singapore, a country that takes pride in being a First World nation. 

We call on the government to investigate instead the abuses suffered by the former detainees and make appropriate restitution.

Function 8

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Debunking a 30-year-old Conspiracy

untracing 3

30 years on, details of the Internal Security arrests codenamed Operation Spectrum have only just come to light, first in Teo Soh Lung’s book, Beyond the Blue Gate, and more recently, in Jason Soo’s film, 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy. The documentary can be viewed on Youtube.

On the 30th anniversary of this event which had a chilling effect on Singapore’s civil society, we would like to invite you to join us in an endeavor for restorative justice and reconciliation.

Date: 21 May 2017
Venue: The Projector
Time: 2 – 6 pm

2.00 – 3.00 pm
Screening of 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy(tickets to be bought online from The Projector or at the box office)

3.15 – 4.30 pm
Conversation with survivors of Operation Spectrum *

4.30 – 5.00 pm
Book Launch – 1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On

5.00 — 6.00 pm
What have we learned? (Sharing by civil society organisations)

* If you have seen the film 1987: Untracing the Conspiracy, you are welcome to join the programme from 3.00pm onwards.

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Amos Yee and Political Asylum

 “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14(1).

Amos Yee has now been granted asylum by the United States on the grounds of persecution by the Singapore government. While the Singapore government may be unhappy with what the Immigration Judge Samuel B Cole said in his judgement, I am sure it is pleased with “getting rid” of him.

Some people suspect that Yee sought asylum because he wanted to evade national service. The same allegation was made by the Singapore government against Tan Wah Piow 40 odd years ago.

Then there are others who distinguished Tan from Yee. They claim that while Tan as a young student leader, championed the rights of retrenched workers and was seen as a potential opponent of the PAP government, Yee is just a selfish little brat, posting videos with the sole aim of gaining publicity for himself and for material gains.

While Yee’s lawyer and supporters did their homework by supplying the immigration judge with detailed cases of persecution of activists and political opponents by the Singapore government and even called Kenneth Jeyaretnam, an opposition party leader whose father was subjected to endless prosecutions by the PAP government as a witness, the Homeland Security Department did not call any witness to rebut Yee’s claim.

The Homeland Security Department had argued that the Singapore government’s prosecution of Yee for insulting religion and obscenity in 2015 was lawful and conducted in accordance with Singapore laws. The Immigration Judge, however decided that “Singapore prosecuted Yee under the guise of its laws prohibiting insulting religion and obscenity.”

Judge Cole went on to say that “… evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore’s prosecution of Yee was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore government. His prosecution, detention and general maltreatment at the hands of the Singapore authorities constitute persecution on account of Yee’s political opinions. Yee is a young political dissident, and his application for asylum is granted.”

The judge’s reasons for granting asylum to Yee blemishes the image of Singapore as a developed country which claims to respect the rule of law. For her citizens to flee to another country to seek asylum and to be granted asylum is to confirm that persecutions do exist in Singapore. It is little wonder that the Ministry of Home Affairs have worked through the weekend and issued a statement! So have the Law Society of Singapore and the Association of Criminal Lawyers today.

I do not know if there are citizens from developed countries who have sought political asylum from another developed country. I can think of two high profile cases – Julian Assange, Australian and Editor in Chief of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, an American Computer Professional. They have offended the American government and some of her allies by leaking secret papers from the CIA to the world. They have informed the world that even heads of state are not safe from having their private phone conversations tapped by the Americans!

It depends on whose side you are with. If you are a government official, you will say that it is wrong for Assange and Snowden to do what they did. But if you are a person who values privacy and truth, then you will be grateful to them and acknowledge them as heroes!

Besides Assange and Snowden, I cannot think of any other person from a developed country which is not at war, who seeks refuge in another country. The exception is Singapore.

Operation Spectrum in 1987, resulted in one former prisoner and several friends of those arrested seeking political asylum from America, Australia and Belgium. I believe their applications for asylum, like Yee’s, were supported by documents and testimonies claiming fear of returning to Singapore. They were granted asylum and subsequently, citizenship.

Yee’s asylum application has exposed the Singapore government’s mean treatment of her citizens in a way no other asylum applications has done before. The world now know the nature of our government, our prosecutors, judiciary, penal and mental institutions.

According to statistics of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, there are around one million people seeking asylum every year as a result of conflict or violence. Singapore’s asylum seekers are not running away from war but from persecution by their own government.

by Teo Soh Lung

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