Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pulping the Penguins

I've been thinking about whether or not to write this post for a few days now.

I decided to let my anger subside and then write it with a more open mind - unfortunately, the longer I leave it the worse the situation seems to get.

We are off to Singapore shortly to see the boy's Grandparents and Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Our boys love going to Singapore and they get very excited about seeing their family over there but this trip has already been tainted by the goings on being widely reported in the media and across social media websites.

If you haven't heard the Singapore National Library and Media Development Agency have taken the strange decision to ban all books which do not fulfil the right wing Christian and, to some extent, Muslim groups ideals of a perfect family. These books, such as 'Tango Makes Three', "White Swan Express" and today I heard that 'Lets' Talk About Where Babies Come From" have been removed and pulped for not promoting the family (by recognising that familes of different types occur) and for possibly corrupting young children should they walk into a public space and begin reading such books without parental supervision.

Although it should be noted that "Let's Talk ABout Where Babies Come From" (which in the USA is called 'Its So Amazing' is actually a reference book aimed at parents and educators looking for a child friendly way in which to answer the difficult questions about sex when children bring it up. It is told in a child friendly way but is definately not supposed to be read by the child by themselves. So, in effect, this would be the first adult book that the MDA have removed. Obviously, adults need protecting from corruption as well, particularly as the book contains one page about adopted familes and same sex relationships...

At first glance the whole story seems a bit of a storm in a teacup - even Papa (who is Singaporean) dismissed it saying, "Who uses libraries nowadays?"

And that would probably be true had the Singaporean Government not then lent their support to the ban (bearing in mind that both the Library and MDA come under government juristiction in one of the most censored countries in the world). Obviously, if the government rejected the removal of these books they would be rejecting one of their own organisations policies. The NLB spokesperson stated; "NLB’s understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education."

So, in a nutshell, the Singapore government has blatantly stated that it is now ok to discriminate against any family that is deemed to be not of the social 'norm.' I maybe overstating it but thats certainly how things appear. It would also seem to include single parent families and all adopted families.

So that raises the question then of 'where does our family fit in?". Our boys are proud to call themselves half British, half Singaporean - even though it would appear that Singapore does not want them.

When we go back to Singapore are they to be barred from talking to other children for fear that they may corrupt them. Will Papa and I be able to walk down the street holding our children's hands without being spat upon - seriously, if you read some of the comments the so called 'Christian' and 'Muslim' groups are espousing on their various social media platformsthat would seem to be the next step.

Of course, we know it is just a minority who have these views and our friends and family will welcome us with open arms - but what is worrying is how much weight this minorty view is being given. And what happens if, God forbid, anything should happen and we have to relocate back to Singapore - will our family even be recognised - our partnership wouldn't be so how would that effect the adoption? Thats actually a scary thought.

After our last trip to Singapore and my comments on how much more open it has become as a society this seems to show that Singapore has once again taken a step back into the dark ages.

On a more positive note - just as the anti gambling ads which ran in Singapore showing a  desperately sad, small boy hoping that Germany would win the World Cup as his Dad had placed all his savings on them (that backfired) so, hopefully, this will help me in my quest to sell the book version of the blog - as my lovely agent said on Monday - 'Its all pretty petty what's going on in Singapore at the moment, and very sad, but it will definately help book sales!"

So here's hoping the Singapore governemtn slap a ban on my work as soon as its published!


  1. Hi James, I'm looking forward to more updates from you soon :)

    1. I am glad you enjoy it. I'm back now! Expect a lot of posts as I catch up... Feel free to share!