SABBATICAL NOTES. 13 JUL 2014. SUNDAY N2.
Singapore burns books.
SOMEWHERE, bigotry is the norm. Singapore's latest adventure on clamping down the perceived 'abnormality' of alternative families is an example.
Satish Cheney's account of the 'pulping' of three books with a gay them and thus, 'go(ing) against Singapore's family values' speaks of the life of books, the life of peoples, the life of communities, and our life in the mind.
A country of 5.4M people steeped in diversity and awash with worldly goods, Singapore has become a moral police too despite the fact that its people has called for tolerance, an attitude of openness to human possibilities and realities.
The books in question are 'And Tango Makes Three,' 'The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption,' and Who's in My Family: All About Our Families.'
'Tango' is about a male penguin couple in a zoo, 'White Swan' about a lesbian couple, and 'Who's in My Family' is about the evolving nature of family and who are considered family beyond the biological.
The Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim justified the incoming burning of the books this way: 'The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of the Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, nontraditional families, which is what the books in question are about.'
An author, Donald Low, ('Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus'), responds to Minister Ibrahim and says: 'I see no evidence of a significant segment of Singapore society objecting to these books being our public libraries, even if the majority of Singaporeans are conservative.'
Ah, this struggle for the good life is a struggle for the good life everywhere, with or without conservatives around.