What the government says – is often perceived as credible, factual, and objective by the majority.
Any alternative accounts on the other hand, are usually believed to be biased and subjective by the majority.
One example to show evidence of the above would be my thoughts after watching Jason Soo’s unfinished documentary 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy (*which is still in the midst of crowdfunding for the completion of it’s full length film).
I remember initially going home with the feeling that the film could have been more comprehensive in terms of covering the timeline of events, and what other involved parties had to say, instead of focusing mainly on the accounts of how the arrests happened, and the prison tortures faced by the detainees during Marxist Conspiracy.
A few months later, I attended a panel session #03: HISTORY, HIS STORY, WHOSE STORY?, where Jason Soo was one of the speaker. An audience panel also raised the question of the documentary’s subjectivity, and Jason Soo seemed very much annoyed (*which I did not understand his reaction then, as I had similar sentiments as the audience panel). He replied something along the lines that – it was an actual fact that the prison tortures did happened.
- Government’s narrative holds more weight and credibility than alternative accounts?
It was only after reflecting at the end of the panel session, that I came to a realisation that as Singaporeans, we have been ingrained to feel that everything the government or mainstream media says holds significant credibility, weight, and truth. As as a result, we do not see the need to question the objectivity of the government’s account as much. On the other hand, we are ironically very quick to point out on things like e.g. we feel that the coverage of the political detainees side of the story should be made more objective.
The government has been feeding us their crafted account of what happened during Marxist Conspiracy through the mainstream media for the past few decades. Likewise, its only fair that the detainees themselves get an outlet to have their side of their story be heard through this documentary e.g. even if the focus is mainly on describing the arrests, and prison tortures they faced.
Tracing the Conspiracy was a documentary broadcasted on primetime TV which showed the supposed confessions of the Marxist Conspiracy detainees back in 1987. Hence, the word play of this 2015 documentary Untracing The Conspiracy which seeks to “examine Operation Spectrum (Marxist Conspiracy) from the vantage of the present, and to allow the ex-detainees to tell their own side of the story, using the very same audiovisual medium through which they had been vilified in 1987.
- Due outlet for the voices of minorities to be heard
And unlike the government’s privilege of having mainstream media support and resources, the detainee’s themselves do not have the opportunity for their accounts to be shared to the majority in an objective and neutral manner, and their reputation have been tainted by what the government has portrayed them to be for the past few decades (*regardless of how true or false it is).
The fact is – both the government’s and political detainee’s narrative are one-sided and subjective in nature, and we will never know the extent of truth and lies by both parties.
So if we really want to zoom in on the lack of objectivity of 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, let us also remind ourselves at the same time about how “privileged” the one-sided account of the government’s narrative is, for it has been
brainwashed into made very accessible to the majority of indoctrinated Singaporeans through the many mainstream media outlets for the past few decades.
The voice of the oppressed or minorities are often neglected, and lack the due resources, support, and coverage they equally deserve
in comparison to the more powerful and privileged decades-long ruling party PAP.
- Slotting in the missing jigsaw pieces to form a fuller picture
We did not know the firsthand accounts of how the detainees were arrested, nor the tortures they went through. We were only fed what the government wanted us to know.
As such, this documentary serves to balance out, and act as that essential alternative account to the government’s narrative; which will allow us to gain a more “objective” insight towards the whole Marxist Conspiracy saga.
And if we really feel that some jigsaw pieces of Marxist Conspiracy are subjective, or lack objectivity; what we can do is to become “fairer and objective” media consumers by connecting the different jigsaw pieces to form a fuller picture of what actually happened during the Marxist Conspiracy saga.
We have to start to remove our double standards, read up, and show skepticism to both the government’s narrative and political detainees’ narrative, as well as question both the mainstream and non-mainstream media coverage of Marxist Conspiracy – to be more objective, responsible, informed, and vigilant citizens.
“The full-length film will provide a lot more context, as well as cover the most critical events of that period.”
– Jason Soo’s reply when asked whether the full length documentary will offer a broader perspective (*Taken from: Interview with director Jason Soo – of Untracing The Conspiracy)
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