Archive for March, 2010

A chance to say something to Mr Obama
By Neo Chai Chin, TODAY | Posted: 01 March 2010 0845 hrs

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans had a chance on Sunday to say something to United States President Barack Obama. They just had to turn up outside the Asian Civilisations Museum and voice a 30-second message on camera, for an upcoming film documentary.

But only one Singaporean, a full-time National Serviceman (NSF) who saw the listing in Lianhe Zaobao, did so in order to be part of a film that is exploring the US’ role in this century as well as each individual’s role in making the world a safer place.

Film-maker Eng Yee Peng, also publicised the morning event on radio station 95.8FM, but not even her friends, whom she emailed, were game enough to appear on camera.

It was an expected turnout, even though challenging her assumptions – that Singaporeans "don’t really want their voices to be heard and are not very into politics" – was one reason why she decided to help collect messages from Singaporeans for the film My America.

Ms Eng took three months to agree to help Australian film-maker Peter Hegedus, who is directing the film, because she felt she "might not get enough reactions from Singaporeans".

Mr Hegedus, whom Ms Eng knew from her student days in Brisbane, Australia, was inspired to help bring about change after Mr Obama was elected and hopes to meet the president in person to convey all participants’ messages and to premiere his film at the Venice Film Festival this year.

Despite the turnout, Ms Eng is not disappointed. "I was happy I got some voices from the region," she said, referring to five other participants from Indonesia, Vietnam, China and India – passers-by who agreed to be filmed.

With eight participants, including herself and this reporter, Ms Eng has amassed ample footage to pass on to Mr Hegedus.

Directing their messages to Mr Obama is "just a mechanism" and, ultimately, "the world is speaking to the world", she added.

As for the NSF, who is heading to Harvard University – Mr Obama’s alma mater – to study political science next year, he voiced his hope that Mr Obama would succeed in his presidency, said Ms Eng, who has no plans to hold another filming session.

However, those who wish to contribute messages, photos or videos may still do so on