IN CONVERSATION WITH BG LEE HSIEN LOONG

PART 2 - Broadcast over CNA on 13 January 2000, 7.30pm


ZAHARA:

Now, just as you've liberalised the financial sector, can Singaporeans expect a more open art scene?


BG LEE:

I think its opening up. There is always that tension because the artists would always be pushing, challenging, wanting to change society. There will be other strands in society because if the artists were to have everything their way, then there is no challenge to them. But it's because reality is different and they would like it to be something different, so there is that interplay and that creative tension. We have opened up quite considerably over the last 10 years after we formed MITA and George Yeo ran MITA, in terms of performance arts, in terms of plays, drama, music, poetry readings. It's quite a lively scene and there's quite a following now. Not just expatriates but even Singaporeans. And I expect that it will continue to grow.

There has been an exchange recently in the press because Kuo Pow Kun expressed some views and MITA restated their position, which I thought they did in a very clear and fair way. We will progress from there. The society has to have a say because the artist would like to try new things, but there are points, there are limits and if you consult responsible citizens, they will say, I think we shouldn't go that way. And in many instances, in art, we're really going based on panels rather than government servants deciding what's on and what's off. But we have panels of informed Singaporeans who are interested, who will advise us and we take their views. So I think it will continue to evolve.