Saturday, July 26, 2014

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Singapore's Gambling Problem Problem (HBO)

Check this out: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Singapore's Gambling Problem Problem (HBO)". Hilarious. I like the part when the other 2 kids said, "Shut up, Andy!"...LOL. In the latest episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the comedian talks about ungrateful Andy, before showing some parodies of the ad, this time with 'Andy' talking about his father betting on American football and even predicting that Ryan Gosling will impregnate Eva Mendes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Terratech Group IPO

Terratech Group IPO - this will make it the first marble producer in the mineral, oil and gas sector to be listed on the SGX. But no, I don't find this attractive. The article in Straits Times today even reveals how the company has made loss in full year 2013 and the previous year (but sorry, can't find the reference online and thus no figures included. Heh.)

Pity it's not this "TerraTech" which shall do the IPO. LOL.


TERRATECH Group, a unit of TriTech Group, on Monday launched its initial public offering (IPO) seeking a listing on Singapore's Catalist board, to raise up to S$7 million in net proceeds.

Terratech will issue some 108.7 million shares - comprising 43.5 million new shares and 65.2 million vendor shares - at S$0.23 apiece.

The placement will close close at 12.00 noon on July 25, 2014. Listing and trading of Terratech's shares will commence at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

On completion of the placement, its market capitalisation is expected to be about S$141.46 million, said Terratech.
From Business Times, "Tritech's unit, Terratech, seeks Catalist listing".

Marble producer Terratech Group has launched its initial public offering (IPO) for a listing on the Catalist board. This will make it the first marble producer in the mineral, oil and gas sector to be listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Under the IPO, Terratech is offering 108.7 million placement shares at 23 cents each. They comprise 43.5 million new shares and 65.2 million vendor shares.

The group, which operates at the Kelantan Marble Quarry in Malaysia, is expected to have a market capitalisation of almost S$142 million when listed. The IPO is expected to raise gross proceeds of about S$25 million.

Terratech plans to use the IPO proceeds to improve its production capabilities, so as to capitalise on strong demand from key markets. The group cites growth prospects in China, with increased urbanisation, and rising demand from higher end hotels and residential buildings.

The IPO opens on Monday (July 21) and will close at noon on Friday (July 25). Terratech is expected to make its trading debut at 9am on July 30.
From Channel NewsAsia, "Marble producer Terratech Group launches IPO".

Accordia Golf Trust IPO

Accordia Golf Trust IPO Would Be Singapore's Largest in More Than a Year! But what puzzles me is that the trust is offering 782,025,000 new units at between S$0.97 and S$1 per unit, with the Singapore public offering taking up ONLY 41,163,000 units because the majority of the units are offered to Japanese investors "by way of public offer without listing in Japan". Why the seemingly discrimination against the Singapore investors? Oh well...I dislike this weird arrangement & thus, I'm giving this IPO a miss.

Accordia Golf

ACCORDIA Golf Trust (AG Trust), a business trust owning golf courses in Japan, has launched its initial public offering for a Singapore listing to raise gross proceeds of up to S$782 million, the biggest IPO on the Singapore Exchange so far this year.

The trust is offering 782,025,000 new units at between S$0.97 and S$1 per unit, with the Singapore public offering taking up 41,163,000 units. The majority of the units are offered to Japanese investors "by way of public offer without listing in Japan", said the trust.

AG Trust intends to distribute 100 per cent of its distributable income to unitholders from the date of listing to March 31, 2015, and at least 90 per cent of its distributable income thereafter.

This translates to an annual distribution yield of up to 9.1 per cent for the forecast year 2015, and normalised distribution yield (excluding non-recurring items) of up to 7 per cent.
From Business Times, "Accordia Golf Trust units from S$0.97 each".

Accordia Golf Co., Japan's largest golf-course operator, plans to raise up to 782 million Singapore dollars (US$626 million) through an initial public offering in Singapore for most of its golf-course assets.

The deal, if successful, would rank as Singapore's largest IPO in more than a year, and comes amid a relatively dry spell for listings in the city-state.

Accordia Golf plans to list the assets through Accordia Golf Trust, which is preparing to sell about 782 million units—or 71.2% of the trust—for between S$0.97 and S$1.00 apiece, excluding an overallotment option, according to a preliminary prospectus lodged Monday with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The trust plans to finalize its offering price on July 24 after taking orders and list on the Singapore Exchange.

About 164.6 million units would be offered to institutional investors, while roughly 41.2 million units would go to retail investors in Singapore, the prospectus said. Another 576.3 million units would be sold to retail investors in Japan.

Accordia Golf Trust plans to offer distribution yield of around 9% for 2015. It expects to raise up to S$704 million in net proceeds, most of which would help pay for its initial portfolio of 89 golf courses. The trust will buy the portfolio from its sponsor, Accordia Golf, which owns 132 of the 135 golf courses it operates in Japan.

Japan is the world's third-largest golf market—behind the U.S. and U.K.—with more than 2,400 golf courses and about 8 million players, the prospectus said.

Daiwa Capital Markets and Citigroup Inc. are handling the trust's IPO, which would be the largest in Singapore since Asian Pay Television Trust's S$1.4 billion flotation in May 2013.

Trust listings have lost some luster in Singapore recently, as the U.S. Federal Reserve winds down its monetary-stimulus program—a move that has reinforced expectations of rising global interest rates. Singapore, Asia's top venue for trust IPOs, had seen a boom in such deals as low rates drove foreign investors to look to yield-paying trusts for higher returns.
From Wall Street Journal, "Accordia Golf Plans Singapore Trust IPO".

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coffee Lam and her 'flawless' logic...

Well, 'flawless' logic alright, because Coffee Lam claimed that after she threw up, Will Lam kissed her. That is just...gross. Granted both of them possibly were very drunk, maybe? Heh. Well at least after being fired from TVB, she did still enjoy the benefit of the publicity her alleged sex scandal brings as she admitted her salary has increased and she is now paid more for event appearances.

On another note, she seems to prefer to have her photos taken from her left side of face? Lovely, nevertheless.


Though already terminated from TVB for last month's restroom scandal, actress Coffee Lam has recently offered her side of the story in an attempt to restore her public image.

Last month, the "Triumph in the Skies II" actress made headlines when she was photographed getting into a restroom cubicle located inside the IFC Mall with her date, wealthy heir Will Lam. The actress was alleged to have conducted lewd behaviour with Will inside the restroom for 30 minutes without noticing the presence of paparazzi outside.

However, according to ET Today, Coffee admitted that it was Will who pulled her into the restroom, but said that they did not behave in a lewd manner like it was reported in the media.

"We didn't have sex in the cubicle," she said. "I was very drunk and was feeling queasy, so I threw up that night. He took me to the restroom and we kissed."

Asked about the groaning sound she made inside the stall, Coffee said that it was a natural reaction to the kiss.

"Later on, a cleaning lady knocked and asked if anyone is inside. At that time, I realised that I should get out of there quickly, so I told Will that I wanted to head home," said Coffee.

The actress admitted that she was surprised to find reporters waiting for her outside.

In regard to Will Lam's refusal to address the issue and left Coffee to deal with it on her own while he flew to Hangzhou, the actress defended him, saying that Will is a kind and loyal man.

Coffee also admitted that she was frustrated when TVB thought she was trying to use the scandal to promote herself.

"Who would do such a thing and sacrifice their own future and family's good name?" said the actress.
From Yahoo! News, "Coffee Lam offers her side of the story".

Earlier this week, Coffee Lam (林芊妤) received her very first job after being fired from TVB earlier this month. The company terminated the 24-year old actress’s management contract after her 30-minute public restroom scandal with Will Lam (林知譽) surfaced. An advanced yoga enthusiast, Coffee taught yoga at a mall function before the crowd.

Appearing to be in good spirits, Coffee Lam arrived at the function in full yoga gear. She taught the audience a series of exercises by demonstrating each move. Unafraid to arouse talk about the restroom scandal, Coffee even joked that she is “out for a gathering with everyone.”

When asked if the scandal has created more jobs and opportunities for her, Coffee expressed, “It’s a blessing in midst of all the trouble. Although the incident cost my entire image, at least a lot more people now know who I am.” However, she was quick to emphasize once again that she is not using the scandal as a publicity stunt.

Coffee admitted her salary has increased and she is now paid more for event appearances. But despite the pros, she still highly regrets the restroom incident. “I’ll have to face it since it already happened. At first, I was scared to turn to the crowd. I haven’t seen everyone for a long while.”

Coffee added that Will Lam sent her a text message because he was worried about her situation.
From Malaysia Chronicle, "Sex scandal actress Coffee Lam gets new job after being fired by TVB".

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The student is being sexy and comfortable ... in the library?

...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

And Tango Makes Three...or is it Zero?!

And Tango Makes Three...or is it Zero? Well, Wikipedia has this to say about the book: "And Tango Makes Three" is a 2005 children's book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York's Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life when they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise. The book has won many awards but also been at the center of numerous censorship and culture war debates on same-sex marriage, adoption, and homosexuality in animals. The American Library Association reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most challenged book of 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most challenged.

It's 2014. And once again this book is challenged by Singapore's very own the National Library Board. It's courageous! It's outrageous! And it wins NLB a free publicity...worldwide! Just see the news articles below about how NLB would "pulp" the copies of this book (oh wait, there are other books too to accompany "And Tango Makes Three" to oblivion: “The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption,” which involves a lesbian couple; and “Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families.”)

Here are some "thought-provoking" images before you go through all those news articles:

No Forbidden Love. No Forbidden Books.

Also banned by Chicago Public Library? Heh. Yeah right...

The Tango's parents to burn in eternal hellfire, huh?

Brokeback Iceberg! Yay!

A children’s book inspired by a real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick in New York’s zoo has been deemed inappropriate by state-run Singapore libraries, and the conservative city-state’s information minister said he supports the decision to destroy all copies alongside two other titles.

The National Library Board, which runs 26 public libraries in Singapore, pulled from the shelves and said it would “pulp” the copies of three titles, citing complaints their content goes against Singapore’s family values.

The books are “And Tango Makes Three,” about a male-male penguin couple in the Central Park Zoo; “The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption,” which involves a lesbian couple; and “Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families.”

“The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about,” Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said Friday.
He added: “Societies are never static, and will change over time. But NLB’s approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them.”

It was not clear how and when the books will be destroyed.

The decision triggered an online petition and an open letter to spare the books with thousands of signatures collected. Some are calling for a boycott of the libraries and their events.

Donald Low, author of “Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus,” a book recommending policy reforms in the tightly-controlled Southeast Asian state, said he had pulled out of the Singapore Writers’ Festival in November to protest the decision.

“I see no evidence of a significant segment of Singapore society objecting to these books being in our public libraries, even if the majority of Singaporeans are conservative,” Low said.

He objected to Yaacob’s comments, saying that “attitudes are more complex and nuanced than the reductionist view the minister has taken.”

“I’ve always believed that Singapore society is generally tolerant, open and relaxed about people whose sexual orientations are different from ours — even if we don’t agree with them,” Low said.
In recent months, religious conservatives in the wealthy, multi-cultural city-state of 5.4 million people have become more vocal in opposing gay rights. On paper, gay sex remains a criminal offense in Singapore, although authorities rarely enforce the British colonial-era legislation.

Last month, Singapore witnessed its largest gay-rights rally with 26,000 in attendance.
From Washington Post, "Singapore backs call to destroy gay-themed books".

THE National Library Board has done the right thing by removing some controversial children's books from its shelves ("NLB pulls 3 kids' books off its shelves", Wednesday; and "NLB yanked out 3 other children's books", Thursday). In doing so, it has fulfilled its social obligations to the community.

Some have questioned the role of the NLB and insisted that the books be reinstated; others deem the NLB's move to be outright "public censorship".

In fact, one of the books, And Tango Makes Three, has been among the most banned books in public libraries and schools across the United States, which has long been known to be an open and liberal Western society.

Published in 2005, the book is based on a true story of a couple of male penguins in a New York zoo that were given an egg to raise. It topped the American Library Association's list of most challenged books in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Over the years, there have been campaigns against the book, which included efforts to have it restricted to the "mature" section of libraries and removed altogether from school libraries in the US.

Complex homosexuality issues in animals and in some humans have long existed, with few clear-cut answers from the scientific world.

Most discerning adults can make out right from wrong, but it is not so with young children, who lack maturity.

The question that needs to be asked is whether such controversial children's books with themes on the union of same-sex couples are "overly mature" for young children.

Some kinds of knowledge, such as that on sexuality, should not be introduced so early in a young child's life. I am quite certain that was what the American community and families must have felt when they openly objected to And Tango Makes Three being placed in public libraries.
From Straits Times, "Book caused stir in America too".

MANY Forum writers commenting on the National Library Board's (NLB) decision to remove children's books deemed to be not "pro-family" are mistaken on three fundamental points.

First, there is a fine line between understanding and approving. While we understand the reality of divorcees and single parents, we need not approve of such families as the benchmark for all families in Singapore.

Second, the books promoting controversial family units were found in the children's section, where they could be read by impressionable young children.

Seeking understanding is good, but what happens when the reader is unable to differentiate between understanding and approving?

It is not a matter of censorship. Materials on controversial family units can be found outside of the children's section. Neither is it a matter of bigotry as the NLB does not have books condemning such family units. In fact, the term "bigotry" itself is nebulous and is used to silence anyone with a contrary opinion.

The crux of the matter is that the moral compass of future Singapore is being written right now on the minds of our next generation. Society has a say in what values should be promoted to our children, and indeed we have spoken. Since the majority of Singaporeans have already expressed their support for the traditional family unit in the public space, we should not circumvent this expression of values by sneaking in controversial materials into the children's section to confuse our young ones. When our children have graduated from the children's section, they can make their own decisions. And as future parents, they can make decisions for their own children.

Third, our libraries are not mindless depositories of books. The NLB needs to strike a difficult balance involving a limited budget and an ever-increasing variety of books to acquire.

The NLB itself is not devoid of ideology. As a statutory board, its role has to be consistent with the Government's stance on the family, which, to paraphrase Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is made up of one man and one woman raising children together.

Ultimately, the issue is not about removing fairy tales. It is about removing material promoting values that Singaporeans do not want their children to be exposed to.

I acknowledge that it is not easy to run good libraries. Therefore, the NLB's decision is to be applauded.
From Straits Times, "What's at stake in NLB controversy".

The National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to withdraw three children’s book titles deemed to contravene pro-family values was carefully considered and guided by community norms, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim as he weighed in on a controversy that has seen the statutory board bear the brunt of an increasing backlash from the writing fraternity.

Prominent authors yesterday dissociated themselves from the statutory board and some declared that they will boycott its events.

Playwright and novelist Ovidia Yu resigned from the steering committee of the Singapore Writers Festival — of which the NLB was a programme partner — while four other writers, Dr Gwee Li Sui, Mr Adrian Tan, Mr Prem Anand and Mr Felix Cheong, pulled out of an NLB panel discussion on Sunday, leading to the cancellation of the event.

Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng, a Man Booker Prize nominee and Man Asian Literary Prize winner, also said on Facebook he has informed the NLB that he found it very difficult to support its literary projects or to be associated with them. He added that he will be donating a cheque from the NLB — for the use of excerpts from his book The Gift of Rain for an anthology — to a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity.

Explaining the Government’s approach, Dr Yaacob noted that this is “not the first, nor will it be the last time that public institutions like the NLB find themselves facing such a controversy”. He said the withdrawal of the titles was not based on a single complaint, without an attempt to assess the merits of the complaint. “The NLB has a process where its officers carefully consider such feedback before making a decision,” he added.

Noting that the decision was “only with respect to the children’s section in the public libraries”, Dr Yaacob said the NLB is not deciding what books children can or cannot read. “That decision remains with the parents, as it always has been. People can buy these titles for their children if they wish. Rather, the NLB has to decide what books should be made readily available to children, who are sometimes unsupervised, in the children’s section of our public libraries,” he said.

He added that the decision was guided by community norms, which public libraries ought to consider since they serve the community. “The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about,” he said.

“This approach is shared (by) all public agencies dealing with the education and care of young Singaporeans.”

Dr Yaacob noted that, like in other societies, there is “considerable effort” by some here to shift these norms, as well as an “equally strong pushback by those who don’t wish to see change”. “Societies are never static and will change over time. But the NLB’s approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them,” he said.

NLB ‘SADDENED’ BY BOYCOTT

The Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) will be held from Oct 31 to Nov 9. When contacted, Ms Yu declined to elaborate on her resignation from the festival’s steering committee, which comprises members such as journalists, writers and academics.

Festival director Paul Tan said: “We are sad that Ovidia has decided to resign ... but I do understand her feelings as a creative writer.”

Adding that he has asked Ms Yu to reconsider, the National Arts Council deputy chief executive said: “But we will respect her final decision. If she cannot stay on, the SWF team would like to thank her for her ideas and positive contributions during our meetings.”

The NLB confirmed that Sunday’s panel discussion, titled Humour Is Serious Business, will be cancelled following the pullout of the four writers.

It said it was saddened by their decisions and that the 77 participants who had signed up for the event — which is part of the NLB’s Read Singapore campaign — would be disappointed. “Moving forward, we still welcome these authors to work with us,” the NLB said.

Dr Gwee said the decision to boycott the event was collectively taken by the four writers.

He said: “We are completely ill at ease with the NLB’s decision and feel that we cannot — in good conscience — fiddle while Rome burns.”

Mr Cheong said what angered him the most was the NLB saying it would pulp the books. “This is akin to book-burning,” he added.

Other members of the writing fraternity, including Mr Alfian Sa’at and Mr Ng Yi-Sheng, urged the community to boycott NLB events or draw attention to the issue.

“There is enough conflict on this issue, but not enough understanding ... I am happy to work with the NLB to motivate Singaporeans to read widely. But only if the NLB has the same conviction,” said Mr Adrian Tan.

Meanwhile, hundreds have signed up on Facebook for a planned gathering at the atrium of the Central Public Library on Sunday. Participants are encouraged to take along their children and their favourite books to “make a peaceful statement about how much we — and our kids — love to read”. Copies of And Tango Makes Three and Who’s In My Family? — which, together with The White Swan Express, have been withdrawn from the NLB’s collection — will be distributed.

Speaking to TODAY, co-organiser Jolene Tan stressed that the event is not a protest but a social gathering and hence she did not see the need to apply for a permit. She also said the children’s safety will be the priority.

Responding to queries, the police said that under the Public Order Act, a permit is generally required to hold a protest in a public place, regardless of the number of participants, if the purpose is to, among other things, “demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government”.
From Today, "NLB’s decision ‘guided by community norms’".

The National Library Board (NLB) in Singapore is standing by its decision to permanently remove from its shelves three children's books featuring plots with gay or unconventional families.

In a statement issued Thursday, the NLB said it will not only remove the titles -- which purportedly go against "pro-family" values -- but will also destroy them. The decision comes after a few library users launched a complaint against the books.

The titles on the chopping block are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by the real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at the Central Park Zoo; The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, which revolves around a lesbian couple's adoption journey; and Who's In My Family: All About Our Families, which depicts unconventional family setups.

Defending its actions, the NLB, home to 5 million books and audio-visual materials, said in part:

NLB’s collection development policy takes special care of our children’s collections to ensure they are age-appropriate. We take a cautious approach, particularly in books and materials for children. NLB’s understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education.

On Friday, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim issued a statement on Facebook, supporting the NLB's move. "NLB’s approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them," he wrote, in part.

Gay sex remains illegal in Singapore, and homosexuality is a taboo topic. As news of the book pulping spread, gay rights activists and education proponents went on the offensive.

“This is a very unfortunate step backwards,” Kirpal Singh, associate professor of English literature at Singapore Management University, said of the decision to ax the books, per TIME.

Deborah Tan, founder of Singapore-based women's site Material World, slammed the library in a blog post. "Do you not think it is important for children to grow up understanding that such topics are not taboo and that they are not society’s outcasts for thinking they might want something different?" she wrote, "It’s not just an education for the kids, but also an education for parents who need to learn how to embrace their children for who they will become."

Alvin Pang, an award-winning poet based in Singapore, echoed Tan's sentiment. "This is a serious impoverishment of what books are and what knowledge means, and it can only harm our intellectual development and broader social discourse," he wrote on his personal blog. "This is at odds with the spirit of the National Library I have grown up with, come to love and continue to support. The best thing any library can do to serve society is to be resolutely neutral in making accessible the world’s available knowledge."

Critics of the NLB's move also took to social media to air their frustrations, using the hashtag #FreeMyLibrary.

Since when is it a social norms to marry a girl that you just met at a party? Will NLB ban cinderella too? #FreeMyLibrary

— Darryl Kang (@dk) July 11, 2014

Local writers are boycotting NLB in retaliation to the ridiculous ban of the books - I support this! #FreeMyLibrary

— 【NOYA #秘密UKE 】 (@salmondesu) July 11, 2014

What does Singapore have against gay penguins? #FreeMyLibrary

http://t.co/uwqe4V3oNL

— Ben Thambiah (@benedictjt) July 11, 2014

As The Washington Post points out, And Tango Makes Three has appeared a number of times on the American Library Association's annual list of "frequently challenged books."
From Huffington Post, "Singapore Bans 3 Children's Books Over Gay Storylines".

One of the books, the multi-award winning And Tango Makes Three, recounts the real life-inspired story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at New York's Central Park Zoo,

The Singapore government has ordered the National Library Board (NLB) to remove from library shelves and destroy three children’s books that portray gay, lesbian or unconventional families.

The multi-award winning And Tango Makes Three recounts the real life-inspired story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The other two banned titles are The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, which features a lesbian couple, and Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families, which describes unconventional parental set-ups.

The move has resulted in a torrent of opposition in mainstream and social media, the latter largely via the #FreeMyLibrary hashtag. An open letter criticizing the ban has also received more than 4,000 signatures.

“This is a very unfortunate step backwards,” Kirpal Singh, associate professor of English Literature at Singapore Management University, tells TIME. “While we try to balance the conservatives and liberal minded, do we remove anything or everything that gives offense, especially if this offense is quite problematic, quite complex?”

Homosexuality is a sensitive subject in ostensibly modern Singapore. Gay sex remains illegal but is rarely prosecuted, and an estimated 26,000 revelers thronged this year’s annual Pink Dot gay rights rally — one of the largest public gatherings of any sort seen in recent years. Nevertheless, society remains conservative.

According to a NLB statement, “We take a cautious approach, particularly in books and materials for children. NLB’s understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education.”

The ban was reportedly spurred by a complaint from a single library user who is also a member of the Facebook group “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore.”

The NLB boasts a collection of more than five million books and audio-visual materials, and a spokesperson told Channel News Asia that it acts on less than a third of the 20 or so removal requests received each year. (James Patterson’s Kill Me If You Can, which depicts incest, was the subject of a complaint but remains on the shelves.)

Naturally, gay rights activists are outraged. “This unfortunate decision sends a message of rejection to many loving families that do not conform to the narrow father-mother-children definition of family that it has adopted,” said Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa by email. “Pink Dot believes that Singapore can be an inclusive home for its people in all their diversity, and that constructive dialogue should be the way forward for a truly embracing society.”

For Singh, the furor may at least have the positive side effect of prompting debate. “This may contribute to a more vital discussion for Singapore in terms of where we are and where we are not when it comes to values, freedoms and an open state for discourse,” he says.

While praising the NLB as an institution, acclaimed Singaporean author Alvin Pang writes: “This is a serious impoverishment of what books are and what knowledge means, and it can only harm our intellectual development and broader social discourse.”

Justin Richardson, co-author of And Tango Makes Three, would no doubt agree. “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families,” he told the New York Times in 2007. “It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.”
From TIME, "Singapore Provokes Outrage by Pulping Kids’ Books About Gay Families".

Authorities in Singapore are facing an online backlash after public libraries withdrew and decided to pulp three children's book titles because they were against family values.

One of them, And Tango Makes Three, is based on a true story of two male penguins taking care of a baby chick at Central Park Zoo in New York.

It is believed that a conservative parent had written a complaint to authorities and wanted the book to be taken off the shelves.

Also withdrawn were two other titles with gay themes, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, and Who's In My Family: All About Our Families.

The government-run National Library Board (NLB) defended its decision on its Facebook page, saying it took "a pro-family" stance. "In selecting children's books, we sieve through the contents and exercise our best judgment," the statement said.

The decision by the NLB to pulp the books has angered critics who say librarians should not be deciding what is considered "pro-family" and what is not.

Thousands have signed two online petitions to stop the destruction of the books. A petition on change.org had garnered more than 2,000 supporters by yesterday, while people who posted an open letter online said they had so far received 4,600 signatures.

The online protest has spawned a hashtag meme - #FreeMyLibrary.

Janice Koh, a nominated lawmaker in parliament and an advocate of lesbian and gay rights, questioned the need for pulping the books.

"I'm concerned that some other parent can decide on my behalf what is an 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' idea for my child," she said. "In any country, there might be different perspectives on a particular issue. But what is questionable here is that the authorities have decided to pulp the books based on a complaint, with no further review or consideration for other points of view."

While there has been an outcry for the books to be returned to the shelves, some are glad that they have been banned. A few Singaporeans have sent letters to newspapers voicing their support for the NLB's actions.

A letter published in the Today newspaper read: "Parents can still choose to expose their children to other content, but to insist that the NLB circulate books that are inconsistent with its own policies would be intolerant."

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore but the rule is hardly ever enforced.

Singapore saw its largest ever gay rights rally on June 28, with 26,000 taking part despite opposition from Christian and Muslim conservatives.
From South China Morning Post, "Row erupts in Singapore over pulling of children’s books with gay themes".

Leading Singaporean writers on Friday expressed outrage over the national library's plans to destroy three children's books seen to promote homosexuality.

The National Library Board (NLB) late Thursday confirmed it would "pulp" three children's titles deemed to be against its "pro-family" stance following complaints by a parent and its own internal review.

Singapore's small but vocal arts and literary community slammed the move as an exercise in "book burning" and censorship, amid rising tensions between religious conservatives and gay-rights activists in the city-state.

The three books to be destroyed include "And Tango Makes Three" -- a true story about two male penguins in a New York zoo which raised a baby penguin -- and "The White Swan Express", which features children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents.

The third book, "Who's In My Family", discusses different types of families, including references to gay couples.

The state-funded NLB is a network of 26 public libraries with a collection of five million books and multimedia items.

Prominent local writer Ng Yi-Sheng bemoaned the NLB's decision to destroy the books instead of choosing a "compromise solution, such as putting the books in adult lending or even the reference section".

"I want you to bring up these book burnings in your public events," he told fellow authors in a Facebook post.

Alfian Sa'at, a playwright, called for a boycott of the NLB network.

"Our stand is precise and clear: We are against censorship, an opaque bureaucracy and the destruction of books," he said.

- Conservative city state -

A group of writers scheduled to speak at an NLB event about humour on Sunday also pulled out in protest.

The Singapore Review of Books, an online publication that reviews books from Singapore and outside, said on its website that the NLB's decision to destroy the books "has crossed the threshold to take on the spectre of a pyre... from which no hope may rise".

But Singapore's information minister Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post Friday the NLB's decision was "guided by community norms".

"The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about," he wrote.

The episode comes just two weeks after an annual gay rights rally in the conservative city-state was attended by over 20,000 people, sparking a fierce debate between religious conservatives opposed to the event and Singapore's growing gay-rights lobby.

Gay sex between men is illegal in Singapore and is punishable by up to two years in jail under a provision in the penal code dating back to British colonial rule.

Singapore officials have openly promised that the city's LGBT community will not be hounded under this law, but say it must stay in the books because most citizens still do not accept homosexuality.

A survey of 4,000 citizens by the government-linked Institute of Policy Studies earlier this year found that 78.2 percent of the local population felt same-sex relations were wrong.
From Bangkok Post, "Outrage in Singapore over destruction of LGBT-themed kid's books".

And Tango Makes Three, a children's book based on the true story of two male penguins who raised a baby chick together in New York's Central Park Zoo, has won awards.

But the 2005 publication has also faced bans in more conservative parts of America, and now the national library of Singapore has made plans to destroy the book and two others because they are seen to promote homosexuality.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) said copies of White Swan Express, about children who are adopted by straight, gay, single and mixed-race parents, would be pulped. Who's In My Family, which features gay couples will suffer the same fate.

The NLB, a network of 26 public libraries with a collection of five million books, says that the titles are against its "pro-family" stance and that decision has been reached after a complaint by a parent and an internal review.

The move has angered Singapore's arts and literary community, who have called it "book burning", and there are rising tensions between religious conservatives and gay-rights activists in the city-state.

Prominent local writer Ng Yi-Sheng said the NLB should have reached a "compromise solution, such as putting the books in adult lending or even the reference section", rather than destroying the books.

"I want you to bring up these book burnings in your public events," he told fellow authors in a Facebook post.

Alfian Sa'at, a playwright, called for a boycott of the NLB network. "Our stand is precise and clear: we are against censorship, an opaque bureaucracy and the destruction of books," he said.

A group of writers scheduled to speak at an NLB event about humour on Sunday also pulled out in protest.

The Singapore Review of Books, an online publication, said that the NLB's decision to destroy the books "has crossed the threshold to take on the spectre of a pyre... from which no hope may rise".

But Singapore's information minister Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post on Friday the NLB's decision was "guided by community norms".

"The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about," he wrote.

Sex between men is illegal in Singapore and is punishable by up to two years in jail under a provision in the penal code dating back to British colonial rule.

Although Singapore officials have openly promised that the city's gay community will not be hounded under this law, it has not been repealed because most citizens still do not accept homosexuality.

A survey of 4,000 citizens by the government-linked Institute of Policy Studies earlier this year found that 78.2 per cent of the local population believed same-sex relations were wrong.
From the Telegraph, "Singapore pulps childrens books about gay parenting".