Freedom of... Is there any in Singapore?

Books are a staple in my life. No matter how busy or tired, upset, happy, in whatever the state of mind, I read. Books have been my constant companions since I learned how to interpret the words on a page.

 Which is why that whole saga of the National Library Board’s yanking and attempting to pulp books that “do not promote family values” and the Media Development Authority’s banning of an issue of Archie, really upset me. Book banning is not a new thing. The Singapore government has banned books like George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, among others for years. What upset me is the way they are doing it. 

Why is a library board suddenly policing what people read? What happened to freedom to discover and learn? How on earth can children’s books teach one to become gay? If that is the case, I and many others who read would’ve become serial killers, fairies, pedophiles and possibly vampires or wizards by now.

The question needs to be asked is: Why are people/families so lazy today that they expect or think that libraries and governments are obligated police their own children?

THIS IS LAZY PARENTING. As a parent or adult, you are responsible for educating your kids. Whether it is in the values they learn or how to interpret what they read – this is your responsibility. If you feel that they shouldn’t be exposed to something, explain why and don’t expose them to the material. Governments are there to provide only a framework for the society. The library is a place where your kids discover whole new worlds that set their imaginations afire.

These incidences can be tied to the recent brouhaha over this year’s Pink Dot event in June and how religious groups joined the fray, speaking against alternative lifestyles and generalizing issues among the LGBT community as well as single parents or adoptive families. Why are we promoting intolerance in a country that is supposed to be one of the most harmonious? Also, why are we confusing all the issues now and making an even bigger muck of it all? 

You know the phrase, if you can’t work with them, confuse them? Singapore, you need to STOP it. We need the freedom to love as much as we need the freedom to read. We need to teach our children the way forward, not close them into a narrow-minded view of the world. The entire world is evolving so rapidly that we need to make adjustments to the way we think, work and love. The values that we instill will be passed on; do we really want a generation of kids who are too scared to question, explore and even learn? Don’t take a few steps backward when you should be moving forward!

For a Singaporean living overseas, reading the comments, stories and even posts from my own friends, it upset me hugely. How the hell did the country I grew up in become so fractured? Hey, I know the problems that we have, Singapore. But this is a new kettle of fish. I come from an interracial family that became a single-parent one. I grew up with friends and family in the LGBT community who are some of my best mates. Everyone I know is well-read and able to form their own opinions yet I’ve actually come to realize that despite what is conceived as an “alternative upbringing”, I may have grown up in a better environment than if I was simply closed in and overly protected. 

Don’t let empty words and factions, confuse you, Singapore. Take a deep look within, assess what you are trying to do and say, before you raise an even bigger stink and make us more of laughing stock than we already are.

PS. The NLB has since decided to move two of the books on its pulp list to the adult section based on the MDA's  instructions. Too little, too late, guys. I feel that such public outcry over the matter wasn't necessary in the first place. 

2 comments:

Woon said...

Hi there,

This is really well written and reasoned. I share most, if not all of your views, and feel stronger yet.

These are among the reasons why I deeply regret giving two years to the country, why I will never come back to live, why I will never raise my possible children there, why the country will never see an ounce of work or a cent of tax money from me.

It's far from the worst place to have grown up, but for a country with such a well educated and well developed government, and that claims and aspires to so much...it's a cage. And I intend every ounce of meanness and insidiousness in this word.

It's not resource scarcity or religious fervour or threat of armed conflict or anything that drives this. It's cold cold well informed and premeditated oppression.

I'm pretty sure my parents will grow old and die in Singapore, and they are attached to their life there, and it treats them well, but the day that happens is the day I will lose my last string of attachment to the place and it will never hear from me again.


M

SelSaysIt said...

Hi Woon, thanks for your comment. No worries on the interface, I've taken care of these :) I actually feel the same. At the same time, it feels like a lot of people are simple following the herd as opposed to thinking for themselves and forming their own opinions. That, to me is really sad.

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P
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