This section is taken from excerpts of the Advocates for the Arts handbook published by the Law Society Pro Bono Services which can be found here.
Citizens of Singapore enjoy freedom of speech and expression under Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1965 Original Enactment Sing.). However, it is important to note that this freedom is not unfettered. Article 14 gives our lawmakers the power to enact laws that restrict or limit freedom of speech in situations where the speech or expression in question may threaten the security of Singapore, compromise public peace and safety, or offend the public morality. The government regards such restrictions on freedom of speech as being necessary to balance the rights of the speaker against the rights and interests of society at large. Parliament has enacted a number of notable laws to strike this balance.Wei Li F. (2018). Chapter 9: Limits to Creative Expression. Advocates for the Arts, 110-129
Overview of laws governing media & creative expression
- Sedition Act
- concerns with: politics, race, religion
- any act, speech, or publication that has the tendency to cause discontent, ill-will, hostility, or disaffection among the citizens of Singapore. Conduct, words or publications that may cause hatred or contempt against the government may also count as sedition.
- concerns with: content that may be damaging to society and the public interest as a whole, defamation laws enable an individual, group, or organisation to seek redress against offensive or untrue content targeted at them.
- a statement is defamatory if all three of the following requirements are met:
- The statement is published to at least one (1) third party other than the originator of the statement and the aggrieved party.
- The statement refers to the aggrieved party.
- The statement causes “right-thinking” members of society to regard the aggrieved party in a “lower light”, or exposes the aggrieved party to hatred, contempt or ridicule.
- Protection from Harassment Act (POHA)
- concerns with: physical harassment, stalking, cyberbullying, harassment through electronic communication
- Public Entertainments Act
- concerns with: showcasing work in public spaces
- All photographers, painters, sculptors, designers, etc must apply for an Arts Entertainment Licence or Film Exhibition License from IMDA to showcase work in public spaces.
- The licensing framework relating to public and arts entertainment can be complex. Different types of performances and exhibitions may require different types of licences from different authorities. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to consult the relevant licensing authorities or to do ample prior research before planning any public expression of their art form, be it large or small in scale.
- Media Classification Guidelines