Wukan: After The Uprising – Documenting An Experiment In Democracy

Wukan: After The Uprising – Documenting An Experiment In Democracy

What happens after an uprising? The celebrations end and the hard work of governance begins. And whether it be on a scale as vast as Egypt's, or in a Chinese fishing village, the transition is often difficult and fraught with risk. In Wukan, the same activists who fought so bravely...
The Great North Korean Picture Show

The Great North Korean Picture Show

North Korea’s film industry is a vital tool in the regime's vast propaganda machinery. Now, for the first time ever, foreign filmmakers have been allowed into the country's only film school - an elite institution where young talents are trained to create works that will not only entertain, but help...
Nowhere To Go

Nowhere To Go

The Rohingya are a stateless people described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. They are reviled in Myanmar, the country many Rohingya call home, and unwelcome in neighbouring Bangladesh, where tens of thousands live in refugee camps. For decades, they’ve suffered official discrimination from the...
China's Race for Gold

China’s Race for Gold

A little before London 2012, we went to China to make a film about the price of the country's relentless pursuit for sporting excellence. Some of what we witnessed was truly depressing. Injured former athletes, forgotten by the state. A retired gymnast begging on the streets. A one-time basketball pro...
In The Kingdom Of Reverend Moon

In The Kingdom Of Reverend Moon

He founded a religion called "Unificationism" and built a vast business empire. Now, Reverend Moon Sun-myung is fighting to ensure a lasting legacy. But not all is well in his church. A feud within the Reverend's family has triggered angry outbursts and ugly lawsuits. Will the Unification Church survive without...
Camera

Camera

A surveillance expert takes radical steps to ensure he stays ahead of the game. When hired to follow the daughter of a sinisterly powerful man, he begins to fall for her, calling into question a life-long ethic of detachment and sending him on a path that could destroy his very...
The Shortest Man In The Village Who Can Soar Like An Eagle

The Shortest Man In The Village Who Can Soar Like An Eagle

No black person has ever competed in cycling’s most prestigious race, the Tour de France. Zakayo Nderi, a former shoe-shiner from the slums of Kenya, wants to change history.
Homeless FC

Homeless FC

Twice a week in Hong Kong, an unlikely group of men gather to play football.  They call themselves the Dawn Team, for all of the players have lived through some pretty dark times.  Beyond a love for the beautiful game, the one thing that unites these people is the fact...
Aki Ra's Boys

Aki Ra’s Boys

Boreak was six when he lost his right arm in a landmine accident. Family members rushed the young Cambodian to a nearby hospital where so-called “doctors” performed a crude amputation. Burdened with eight other children to feed and unable to cope with the stress of handling a crippled son, Boreak’s...
Passabe

Passabe

The remote village of Passabe lies on the precarious border between East and West Timor. It is a battle-scarred community with a horrific past. In the run up to the vote for independence in 1999, Passabe was a base for hundreds of pro-Indonesian militiamen who participated in a rampage of...
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Papa's Boy

Papa’s Boy

I can’t stop looking at this photo of Cheong Chun Yin and his father. He’s a toddler, probably no older than two – a little monkey perched on Papa’s shoulders. Uncle Cheong is smiling as he looks up at his son. There’s a glimmer of pride in his eyes. There is so much joy. Like...

The Singapore Way

The riot took us by surprise. Footage uploaded onto the Internet show an angry crowd of what looks like foreign workers from South India, shouting and throwing things at a bus, at an ambulance, at police cars, at auxiliary police officers. Vehicles are overturned. One goes up in flames. A common refrain online that night,...

When Roginald Broke Our Rules

Roginald Santos Oloresisimo is no longer in Singapore. He boarded a plane bound for the Philippines this morning. It is unclear if he is coming back or if he still has his old job. What is obvious though is that the last few weeks must have been highly stressful for him. Roginald probably never saw...

The Singapore I Am Proud Of

Singapore’s Acting Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan-Jin, recently called on Singaporeans who are unhappy with the country to help build a nation we can be proud of. Here are my thoughts.   There is a Singapore I am proud of. The Minister would see it too if he cared to look. It’s not hiding in...
Working Through The Haze

Working Through The Haze

Photo: Ng Yi Shu Our taxi zips down the PIE. The driver, a jolly Malay man, laughs as he gestures towards his windscreen. “This year, I tell my children, what for go Genting for holiday? We have Genting here! Very hot Genting!” It is 11am. The PSI reading is 322. I have the beginnings of...

Response To The AGC’s Letter Of Warning

The Attorney General’s Chambers in Singapore says I am guilty of contempt of court. It has informed the media of its finding and sent me a letter of warning. At issue are two video clips I posted on my blog earlier this year. In the clips, former SMRT drivers Liu Xiang Ying and He Jun...

Do The Right Thing, #FreeMyInternet

  Something truly remarkable happened in Singapore this week. The online community – often characterised by the establishment as a scary place filled with scary, irresponsible people – came together like it never did before. The process was calm and reasoned, the tone, always civil. Despite being thousands of miles away right now, I’ve had the...

On Allegations And Retractions

Earlier this year former SMRT bus drivers, He Jun Ling and Liu Xiang Ying, told me in separate interviews that they were intimidated and assaulted while in police custody. Today, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a statement dismissing those allegations as “baseless”. Several journalists have contacted me for a response. Here is what...
North Korea: Human Beings Live There Too

North Korea: Human Beings Live There Too

I am tired of clichés about North Koreans. They are starving and brainwashed. Robots devoid of personality. They don’t smile. They’re not allowed to think. Their purpose in life is to obey. It’s strange, but when it comes to those poor people from that evil country, some in the media seem incapable of understanding nuance. A...

Still Waiting For Answers

In January this year, I interviewed former SMRT bus drivers, He Jun Ling, Gao Yueqiang, Wang Xian Jie and Liu Xiang Ying. They were said to be key instigators of Singapore’s first strike in 26 years and as a documentary filmmaker and journalist, I was eager to find out their stories. A fifth driver, Bao...

The SMRT Saga: Anatomy Of A Strike – Part 1

At around 3.45 pm this past Saturday, He Jun Ling left Singapore on a plane bound for China. He had just finished a seven-week sentence* at Changi Prison – punishment for his role in what authorities call an “illegal strike” at transport operator, SMRT. He’s departure followed that of his colleagues Gao Yueqiang, Wang Xianjie...

In Which Benjamin Cheah Gets Overwhelmed By His Own Imagination

I don’t like to draw attention to poorly written articles, but then this piece appeared in The Online Citizen today and it happens to be about me. On top of being very pompous and very cheong hei, it’s also riddled with mistakes, half-truths and made-up facts. And so, even though I’d rather spend my Saturday...