We would like to thank Gina Marchetti and Julia Lesage for their comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. In this paper, we generally use the Chinese nomination order for a person’s name (that is, surname first), the exception being Western names, or people who have a Western given name; in which case, the second word in the nomination sequence would be the surname of that person—for example, Stan Barrett and Eric Khoo.
 Our category, “Khoo’s early films,” refers to the short and feature films which Khoo produced and directed between 1990 and 1997, as distinct from Khoo’s more recent works in that his involvement in them is that of co-producer only. Our particular study of Khoo’s early films excludes Barbie Digs Joe (1990) and August (1991) because we had no access to these shorts at the time of writing this paper. Space constraints also impede a similar close reading of Khoo’s more recent films, but references to them will be made where appropriate.
 Jan Uhde and Yvonne Ng Uhde, Latent Images: Film in Singapore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 119.
 All Chinese film titles are given in pinyin. Local films invariably have an English title, though not all have a Chinese one. Those which have a Chinese title are either wholly in Mandarin, or predominantly in Mandarin with a dash of other local languages, including Chinese dialects. Those without tend to be in English, smattered with Singlish and local Chinese dialects. Here Mandarin may be used, but only occasionally.
 PAP is the acronym for the People’s Action Party which came to power in 1959 and has since ruled Singapore continuously.
 Kuo Pao Kun, “Re-Positioning the Arts,” The Arts Magazine (November/December 1999), p. 22.
 Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 1.
 Singlish is a colloquial term for the highly localized version of English, or English with a strong local flavor. Singlish is thus like English, except it comes smattered with words, phrases and expressions borrowed from Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and other Chinese languages such as Cantonese and Hokkein.
 Author unknown, “Poultry in Motion,” “Life!” in Straits Times (November 16, 2000), p. L5. The Straits Times is Singapore’s longest running English daily.
 Produced and directed by Indian nationals, K. R. S. Chisty and B. S. Rajhans, respectively, the first local film, Laila Majnun was made in 1933. It had “Bangsawan [Malay opera] actors, musicians and set designers and, like Bangsawan, was in the Malay language,” and told the legend of titular namesakes, otherwise known as the Romeo and Juliet of the Persian-Islamic world. See William Van Der Heide, Malaysia Cinema, Asian Film (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2002), pp. 124-26. In addition, between 1938-1942, the Shaw Organisation made eight Malay films, under the banner of Shaw Brothers. They were all directed by Miss Yen and Wan Hai Ling, believed to have been from Shanghai. For a list of these films, see Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 224.
 Ibid., pp. 1-31 and Van Der Heide, Malaysia Cinema, Asian Film, pp. 123-49. Shaw Runme founded the Shaw Organisation in 1924. In 1935, the Associated Theatres Limited was established; it was renamed Cathay Organisation in 1959.
 In 1965, Singapore became an independent nation after its separation from the Federation of Malaysia.
 In 1960, Cathay-Keris produced Singapore’s first Mandarin film, Lion City (in Chinese: Yi Sui; dir. Thung Pak Chee). It would appear that this is also Cathay-Keris’ only Mandarin movie.
 Cf., Chan Heng Chee, “Politics in an Administrative State: Where Has All the Politics Gone?” in Seah Chee Meow, ed., Trends in Singapore (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1975), pp. 51-68. Cf., Michael Hill and Lian Kwen Fee, The Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore (London: Routledge, 1995).
 See Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, pp. 186-87.
 Ibid., pp. 29-30. Cf., John Lent, The Asian Film Industry (London: Christopher Helm, 1990), p. 98.
 Stan Barrett is American, while Arthur Smith who replaces Barrett as the director is British. Unless otherwise stated, all directors named in this paper are of Singapore origin.
 For a discussion of this film, see Udhe and Uhde, Latent Images, pp. 109-10.
 Cf., David Birch, “Film and Cinema in Singapore: Cultural Policy as Control,” in Albert Moran, ed., Film Policy: International, National and Regional Perspectives (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 185-211. See also Udhe and Uhde, Latent Images, pp. 59-80.
This figure comprises the 35 features listed on Singapore Film Commission
(SFC)’s website: “List of Singapore Films (1991-2002)”
 Abdul Nizam is a Malay-Singaporean.
 Given that a primary focus of this paper is on Eric Khoo the filmmaker, we will highlight films which are made in association with Khoo’s production company, Zhao Wei Films. Stories About Love is a Zhao Wei-Cyberflics co-production. It features a portmanteau of three stories, each helmed by a different director.
The only exception to the three categories would be Miss Wonton (Dream
Chamber Films, 2001). Directed by Meng Ong, a Singaporean, this film is
produced and financed by American investors. See Marie K. Lee, “Sundance
Interview of Meng Ong the Director and Amy Ting the Star of Miss Wonton”
Produced by MegaMedia (Singapore), Song of the Stork is the first,
and so far only, Singapore-Vietnam collaboration in film. Jonathan Foo
is Singaporean, while Nguyen Phan Quang Binh is Vietnamese. See “Song
of the Stork” <http://www.megamedia.com.sg/
 Gordan Chan is a Hong Kong director.
 No relation to Eric Khoo.
Colin Goh, in an interview with Karl Ho, “Look Who’s Talking?”
“Life!” in Straits Times (April 17, 2002), p. L1. See
also Tan Tarn How “Coming, talkingcock.com movie,” Straits
Times (August 30, 2001) <http://it.asia1.com.sg/newsarchive/
 Tsui Hark (a.k.a., Xu Ke) is one of Hong Kong’s most established directors.
 The second is a coproduction with Film Workshop (Hong Kong), while the other two are wholly local ventures.
 Cited, Udhe and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 113.
 Cathay Organisation has been a publicly listed company on the Singapore Stock Exchange since 1999. Shaw Organisation, on the other hand, remains in the hands of the Shaw family.
GV, or Golden Village, is a joint venture company between Australia’s
Village Roadshow Limited and Raymond Chow’s Golden Harvest Group of Hong
Kong See “GV Cinema”
According to Kelvin Tong, Singapore had a total of 160 screens in 1998.
Of them, GV had 51, while Shaw and Cathay had 29 and 12, respectively.
The other three major film exhibitors were Eng Wah (public listed in 1994)
with 18 screens, and Studio Cinemas and Overseas Movie, with 13 screens
each. Finally there were six relatively small-scaled exhibitors, with
a screening capacity that ranged from one to seven. See Kelvin Tong, “Cinema
Guide,” “Life!” in Straits Times (April
18, 1998), p. L1. The Singapore Department of Statistics gives a lower
figure: 133, 144, 134 and 131 screens in the respective year of 1998,
1999, 2000, 2001. Cited; “Number of Cinema Screens and Seating Capacity
in Singapore (1998-2002) <http://www.sfc.org.sg/statistics/
Singapore has an average cinema attendance of 17.5 million per year (1991-2001),
about four times the size of its population. See “Cinema Attendance
 Neo and Khoo have also teamed up in Drive, a six-part TV series which MediaCorp commissioned to Zhao Wei Films to produce in 1998.
 In terms of top-grossing movies of all time in Singapore, this film is third to the two Hollywood blockbusters, Titanic (dir. James Cameron, 1998) and The Lost World (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1997).
 Money No Enough grosses S$5.8 million, while That One No Enough, Liang Po Po—The Movie and I Not Supid chalk up S$1.02 million, S$3.03 million and S$3.8 million, respectively, from local sales. After Money No Enough, Neo plays a Singapore lawyer in the local-Hong Kong coproduction of The Mirror (Guai Tan Zhi Mo Jing; dir. Raymond Wong, 1999). A box-office bomb, this film is a portmanteau of the four horror stories variously set in Ming China, Shanghai in the 1920s, modern-day Singapore and contemporary Hong Kong. The stories are linked by an antique chest of drawers, with the eponymous looking glass as its feature, and revolved around the theme of its capacity to exert a strange power over the various owners of the antique-piece, compelling them to behave oddly, with tragic and deadly consequences. Neo appears in the third story. Under the spell of mirror, he would do anything to win a case for a rapist and murderer. Made by Mandarin Films (in Chinese: Dongfang Dianying; Hong Kong) at the cost of S$2 million, The Mirror raked in only S$160,000 at the local box-office.
The highly versatile Raymond Wong Bak Ming who directs the film was a co-founder of the now defunct Cinema City (Hong Kong) with Mak Kar and Dean Shek Tien, in 1980. When this studio closed in 1991, he established Mandarin Films. In 1993, Mandarin Films started to operate in Singapore, partly because of the lucrative tax-break which the Singapore government offered to film joint-ventures, and partly due to the politico-economic uncertainty in Hong Kong in the run-up to the imminent handover of the territory to China in 1997. It reportedly invested a cumulative total of some S$60 million in Singapore for the purpose of making films in the nation-state.
these films distinctly featured outlooks and sensibilities more attuned
to the Hong Kong way of life, even though some were shot in Singapore.
This is perhaps not surprising since the films were predominantly based
on screenplays written by Hong Kong scripwriters, and featured Hong Kong
directors and stars. That is to say, the input of local talents in Mandarin
Film productions with a Singapore label was minimal, if any at all. Cf.,
Birch, “Film and Cinema in Singapore,” p. 187, and Darryl
Pestilence, “Studio: Cinema City” <http://victorian.fortunecity.com/
Insofar as the method for sharing the revenue generated from the ticket
sales is concerned, complex formulae exist; but generally speaking, both
the exhibitor and distributor would make the first claim, which amounts
to about 50 and 25 percent, respectively, of the gross take, with entertainment
tax treated as separate. Although the producer gets to keep the remainder,
or a share thereof, in the case of co-production, s/he is responsible
for the cost of production. To turn a profit then, a film needs to earn
at least four times over and above the production cost. Cf., Jamie Ee,
“Staying Alive: [Singapore’s] Movie Business”
 Kuo Pao Kun, Art vs Art: Conflict and Convergence (Singapore: The Substation.1995), p. 145; cited, Lily Kong, “Cultural Policy in Singapore: Negotiating Economic and Socio-Cultural Agendas,” Geoforum 31 (2000), p. 420.
See Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, pp. 35-57, 52-53, 81-105. The
SIFF and the Substation are two major venues for showcasing local shorts
(both video and DV). Though our study here does not include shorts, it
is worth mentioning that some feature-length films actually begin their
existence as shorts—for example, Talkingcock—The Movie
(2002) and 15—The Movie (2003). See also “Singapore
Film Society” <http://www.sfs.org.sg/>
(April 19, 2003), “About Us” <http://www.filmfest.org.sg/
See Kelvin Tong, “Singapore: The Cannes of the East?” “Life!” in Straits Times (28 April 1998), p. L3. The money came from MITA (Ministry of Information and the Arts), and two statutory boards, STB (Singapore Tourism Board) and EDB (Economic Development Board).
For a listing of SFC’s activities, see “About Us” <http://www.sfc.org.sg/
 Distinguished filmmakers for thes series have included director Peter Weir (e.g. The Truman Show, 1998), composer Michael Nyman (e.g. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, dir. Peter Greenaway; 1989) and cinematographer Peter Pau (e.g. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tiger; in Mandarin: Wo Hu Cang Long, dir. Lee Ang; 2000). Lee Ang, A Taiwanese filmmaker, also goes by the name of Ang Lee.
See “SFC: News Release” (February 1, 2002) <http://www.sfc.org.sg/
 Kong, “Cultural Policy in Singapore,” pp. 415-16.
 George Yeo Yong Boon, “An International Market for the Arts,” Speeches: A Bi-monthly Selection of Ministerial Speeches, 17 (1993), p. 66; cited, Kong, “Cultural Policy in Singapore,” p. 415. George Yeo is the then Minister of MITA; he relinquishes that portfolio to become the Minister Trade and Industry, around mid-1999.
 George Yeo Yong Boon, “Promoting the Arts,” Speeches: A Bi-monthly Selection of Ministerial Speeches 16 (1992), 114; cited, ibid.
 George Yeo Yong Boon, “Singapore Arts Centre: Taking Shape,” Speeches: A Bi-monthly Selection of Ministerial Speeches 18.4, (1994), pp. 36; cited, ibid.
 NAC and NHB were established in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
 The precursor to this report is the Advisory Council of Culture and the Arts Report (1989), often regarded as a watershed document for the development of culture and the arts in the nation-state because it is the first to advocate, since independence, the building of associated infrastructure as both a state concern and affair.
 Ibid., emphasis ours.
 Eric Khoo (2001); Cited, “Bite Into It [Singapore film-maker Eric Khoo (One Leg Kicking) on never being able to please the critics],” “Life!” in Straits Times (December 7, 2001), p. L1.
Alexandra A. Seno & Santha Oorjitham, ”Gaining Cultural
Capital,” in Asiaweek.com
 Cherian George, Singapore: The Air-conditioned Nation: Essays on the Politics of Comfort and Control 1990-2000 (Singapore: Landmark Books, 2000), p. 147.
 This corpus consists of five shorts and two features. As mentioned before, our study does not include Khoo’s first two shorts, Barbie Digs Joe (1990) and August (1991).
 Eric Khoo in an interview; cited, Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 121. Cf., Tan Shzr Ee, “Too Close for for Comfort,” “Life!” in Straits Times (September 17, 2002), p. L1.
 Nazir Husain is a Malay-Singaporean.
 Hokkein which originates from the Fujian Province, south China is, generally speaking, the language of illiterate elderly people, school dropouts and blue-collar workers. Though still a widely spoken local Chinese dialect, it is also a “disowned” language of the state.
 In 12 Storeys, Bunny’s pimp, Mike Kor (played by Lim Kay Tong) from Mee Pok Man, makes a “cameo” appearance at the neighborhood coffee shop of the former film. While there, he has a brief conversation with an anonymous lout. During this conversation, viewers learn that he has knowledge of Bunny’s death, and that he blames the mee pok man for it. The two films thus find an interface in this way.
 Derek Elly, “12 Storeys,” Variety (June 9-15, 1997), p. 71.
Michael Fay, the American youth at the center of the controversial vandalism
trial (1994), appears only in the speech of these taxi-drivers. For a
background of this trial, see, for example, Alejandro Reyes, “Rough
Justice: A Caning in Singapore Stirs Up a Fierce Debate About Crime and
Punishment,” Asiaweek (May 25, 1994) <http://www.corpun.com/
 They speak in Teochew, a language which originates from the Chaozhou County of the Fujian Province, south China. In Singapore, Teochew is not as widely spoken as Hokkein is, but like the latter, is a “disowned” language of the state.
 This composition is a variation to the ghostly father scene in Mee Pok Man.
 Lee Kuan Yew, Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew: The Singapore Story (Singapore: Times Publishing, 1998), p.130. Cf, Chua Beng Huat, Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 124-46.
 Cherian George, “Not All Can Be Under One Roof,” “Life!” in Straits Times (1997, June 27), p. L4.
 The Committee on Performing Arts (November, 1988), p. 58; cited, Birch, “Film and Cinema in Singapore,” p. 185. Emphasis ours.
Goh Chok Tong, The Primer Minister National Day Rally Speech (1999)
Goh Chok Tong, Address by Singapore Prime Minister at the Dinner Hosted
by Economic Minister Dr Hans Wijers on Thursday, October 10, 1996 in the
Goh Chok Tong, Singapore Dream and Singaporeans’ Dream: Speech
by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Nanyang Technological University
(NTU) on Friday, December 20, 1996, at NTU’s Main Lecture Theatre
at 7.30 pm
Ibid. Also Cf., “Attracting Foreign Talent vs Looking after Singaporeans,”
in Singapore 21: Together, We Make The Difference (1997) <http://www.singapore21.org.sg/
 Cf., Michael Lee, “Dead Man Gazing: Posthumous Voyeurism in 12 Storeys, or ‘Splacing’ Singapore’s Official and Unofficial Discourse,” Asian Cinema (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 114-18.
 Chua Beng Huat, “Viewpoint: Wau Lau! A ‘Chim’ Take on Hokkein,” “Life!” in Straits Times (June 21, 1998), p. L5.
 This, the PAP government has been reluctant to admit openly. But in recent years, radio and TV programs in Chinese dialects have resurfaced periodically on the various channels of the government-controlled media. This occurred, for example, in the run-up to the country’s General Election 2001. During this period, the media would broadcast speeches which PAP electoral candidates gave at public rallies, including those made in Chinese dialects.
If a policy change as such was part and parcel of the ruling PAP’s election gimmickry to win votes from some quarters of the population, it was also reflective of that party’s anxiety over its dwindling support from the “non-elite” section of the electorate. Earlier this year (2003), Chinese dialects made yet another return to the broadcast media: during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic, the PAP government was compelled to use and rely on dialects for creating SARS awareness, especially among the elderly and less-educated Chinese-Singaporeans. Media celebrities were roped in for the task; among the SARS education enlistees were Kim Ng, Bryan Wong and Xiang Yun.
 This is found in the inside page of the back cover for exercise books available for purchase by students of Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School in Bishan HDB Estate, Singapore.
 Eric Khoo, in an interview; cited, Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 191.
See Bob Hodge and Gunther Kress. Social Semiotics (Cambridge: Polity
Press, 1988), pp. 26-27, 121-128. Cf., John Clammer, “Deconstructing
Values: The Establishment of a National Ideology and Its Implications
for Singapore’s Political Future,” in Garry Rodan, ed., Singapore
Changes Guard: Social, Political and Economic Directions in the 1990s
(New York: St. Martin’s, 1993), pp. 34-51, and Lim Shan-Loong Mark,
“Shared Values & Their Role in Singapore’s Evolving Ideological
Framework” (26th March 1999) <http://members.tripod.com/~marklsl/
“Expat Singapore” <http://www.expatsingapore.com/
 Eric Khoo, in an interview (1999); cited; Uhde and Uhde, Latent Images, p. 122. “OB markers” is a local euphemism for politically sensitive issues which discussion in any public form or forum is off-limit to Singaporeans in general, with “OB” standing for “Out of Bound.” Of these issues, race and religion are top, or near the top, of the “list.” The “list” does not exist as a formal document; so OB markers are somewhat both opaque and translucent. People who thread upon them, unknowingly or inadvertently, risk official repercussion since these markers, though informal, are presumed to be the tacit knowledge of all Singaporeans.
 The exhibition of R(A) films is not permitted in cinema-houses located in all HDB estates.
 Sandi Tan, “A Boon for Film-maker,” “Life!” in Straits Times (May 8, 1995), p. L2.
 Cf., James Gomez, Self-censorship: Singapore’s Shame (Singapore: Think Centre, 2000), pp. 55-66.
 Cf., Tan See Kam, “Ban(g)! Ban(g)! Dangerous Encounter— 1st Kind: Writing with Censorship,” Asian Cinema (Spring 1996), pp. 83-108.
 Michael Levine, Writing Through Repression: Literature, Censorship and Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1978), p.26.
 Ibid., pp. 2-3, 25-30, 34-45, 51-52.
 Tan See Kam, Michael Lee Hong Hwee and Annette Aw, “Culture of Reticence: Reading Secrets, Family, and Communication in 12 Stories,” A refereed paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference 2002 (Popular Communication Division) (Korea: ICA, 2002).
 Lee, “Dead Man Gazing,” pp. 107-24.
 Ibid., p. 110.
 In Singapore, people who engage in alternative lifestyles such as homosexual practices are liable to be prosecuted. Alternative lifestyles as such are deemed as criminal acts. In the context of local filmmaking, they would fall within the OB marker domain, especially if they are portrayed in the positive light. Thus Bugis Street (in Mandarin: Yao Jie Huang Hou; dir. Yon Fan, 1995) is “acceptable” perhaps because it features the lives of transvestite-prostitutes in tragic terms. There is also the matter that its Mandarin title when translated into English means “The Queen of Demon Street.” (Yon Fan, the director of this local R(A) rated film, is based in Hong Kong.)
At the time of 12 Storeys, sympathetic representation of alternative styles remain an untested ground, though in more recent years, local feature films with queer characters have appeared—most famous is Liang Po Po, a granny played by Jack Neo in drag. Liang Po Po, however, is stripped off all sexuality: she is a desexualized comic figure. Cf., the various shorts directed by Royston Tan—for example, 15(2002), 48 on AIDS (2002), Hock Hiap Leong (2001), Mother (2001), Sons (2000), Senses (1999), Kisses (1998) and Adam.Eve.Steve (1997). These shorts do not have an explicit alternative agenda, sexuality-wise speaking, but they variously feature a campy aesthetics that verges on queer sensitivity and sensibility.
 Lynn Pan, Sons of the Yellow Emperor: The Story of the Overseas Chinese (London: Arrow, 1998), p. 193.
 Ibid., p. 196.
 Author unknown, Chinatown: An Album of a Singapore Community (Singapore: Times Book International, 1983), p. 156.
 Pan, Sons of the Yellow Emperor, p. 196.
 Ann Wee, “The Way We Were,” in The Ties That Bind: In Search of the Modern Singapore Family (Singapore: Aware, 1996), p. 25. Cf., Harriet Evans, Women and Sexuality in China: Dominant Discourses of Female Sexuality and Gender Since 1949 (London: Polity Press, 1997).