To Singapore, With Love banned by MDA

From ‘Local film To Singapore, With Love, not allowed to be distributed, shown here’, 10 Sept 2014, Today

To Singapore, With Love, a film about political exiles directed by local director Tan Pin Pin, has been barred from distribution or exhibition in Singapore. The Media Development Authority (MDA) has classified the film as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR) where films are not allowed for exhibition or distribution.

“MDA has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals,” the MDA said in a statement released today (Sept 10).

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post that he agrees with and supports the MDA’s assessment.

“The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they left Singapore and claimed that they were unfairly denied their right to return to Singapore,” he said. “It is not surprising that ex-CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) members and sympathisers wish now to give their own accounts of historical episodes that they were involved in. But individuals who have chosen to leave and remain outside Singapore, and refused to account for their past actions, should not enjoy a public platform to purvey distorted and untruthful accounts to mislead the public, absolve themselves or deny their past actions.”

At first glance, the title of Tan’s film reads like that of a National Day song, and cleverly chosen too. The last time a NAR rating was slapped on a local film was Sex. Violence. FamilyValues for racist themes, which was eventually toned down to a R21 with cuts. It’s unlikely that Tan Pin Pin’s nuclear warhead of a film that threatens our very NATIONAL SECURITY would get emasculated likewise. Another local firebrand known for featuring political ‘agitators’ is Martyn See, whose film on Chee Soon Juan ‘Singapore Rebel’ was unbanned in 2009 after 4 years on the blacklist.  His other documentary, Zahari’s 12 years, was banned in 2007 for ‘distorting’ Said Zahari’s detention and arrest for ‘communist united front activities’ by the ISD in 1963. Today, you can find both See’s films on Youtube. The country has yet to explode to kingdom come since these were uploaded.

Tan herself was questioned by THE POLICE during the crackdown on See’s Singapore Rebel in 2005, after she, along with 9 other filmmakers, wrote a letter to the forum asking the government where the ‘OB markers’ lay when it comes to political films. Not as renown as household names like Jack Neo, Royston Tan or Anthony Chen, Tan is also the creative force behind ‘Singapore Gaga’ and ‘Invisible City’, both critically acclaimed as quirky odes and mirrors to the ‘real’ Singapore. Unfortunately in the case of a touchy subject like political detainees and ‘commies’, shit just got too real for the PAP to handle. Yaacob even tried to paint them as disloyals who ‘chose to leave’ Singapore. It was either surrender to an absurd charge and suffer endless heckling or flee. To these detainees, there was never a ‘choice’ in the matter.

This communist paranoia belies the decision to give ‘To Singapore, with Love’ the chop, which makes me wonder if MDA and gang are still stuck in the 60’s hunting down the henchmen of the Red Skull. For a film making the rounds on the international circuit, our ban strikes the foreign audience as a shameful symptom of a country in outright denial.

Here’s a quick bio of some of those exiles featured in Tan’s film (which you may eventually watch for yourself when it comes online). If you watch some other interview snippets off Youtube, these folks hardly look like the sort to tear the very foundations of our society asunder, more like people whom you’d want to give up your seat to on the MRT. Besides we already have ISIS flag flyers and Syria freedom fighter wannabes to worry about. They’re the ones who’re more likely to pick up rocket launcher shooting as a hobby.

1) Ang Swee Chai: She’s the prominent surgeon and wife of fellow dissident and outspoken human rights lawyer Francis Khoo, who both spent more than 35 years in exile. The ISD allegedly escorted her away while she was in the middle of an operation. She’s also the co-founder and Patron of British Charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. Now living in London, she recounts more than 72 hours of relentless interrogation during the ordeal, just so to dig out the whereabouts of her then missing husband. They were married for barely 2 weeks.

Incidentally, husband Francis Khoo (died in 2011) was one talented chap. He draws satirical LKY cartoons, recites poetry and sings in this video below. No wonder Ang chose to stay by his side in asylum although she doesn’t have a Marxist bone in her body.  A double loss for Singapore indeed.

2) Chan Sun Wing and Wong Soon Fong: These two were Barisan Socialis assemblymen, or ‘comrades’, which the ‘secret police’ were chasing back in 1963 for alleged involvement in the ‘Satu’ general strike. In an interview not related to Tan’s film, Wong Soon Fong spoke about his fight against British colonialism, the merger with Malaysia, spending time in the mountains like a true badass commie guerilla and missing his relatives back home. He was in Thailand at the time, along with ’20 OTHERS’. Come on, Yaacob, he’s just a harmless uncle who can pass off as someone who sells chwee kueh for a living. Let him come home for God’s sake.

3) Tan Wah Piow: Arrested as a student leader for ‘rioting‘, Tan sought political asylum in Britian and lives in London till this day. SBC even produced a 2 part TV series called ‘The Conspiracy‘ which exposes Wah Piow’s Marxist plot to SUBVERT Singapore, a ‘mastermind’ of a network of communist conspirators. It read like the Al-Qaeda of the time, but today the government is more hung up on him escaping NS than extracting confessions of plotting to overthrow the PAP.

4) Ho Juan Thai: Like Wah Piow, this former WP candidate fled to Britain after being charged for ‘playing up issues of Chinese language, education and culture’ to incite VIOLENT, CHAUVINISTIC reactions from the Chinese speaking population at election rallies. He’s also accused of forging his passport to gain entry into Britain.

In a digital information age where we’re encouraged to think critically and be open to viewpoints other than those of the ruling party, it’s embarrassing that the MDA, which has recently tried, but failed miserably, to ‘co-regulate’ with arts groups on self-classification of performances, has resorted to its staple blunt, arcane method of pushing the panic button with an iron fist whenever a film featuring Singaporeans who got into trouble with the regime is produced. Ironically the MDA blames the producers for ‘whitewashing’ some of the lawbreaking, but doesn’t address the oppressive crimes against humanity by the ISD. Surely these detainees were never as dangerous as Ebola, and neither is Tan’s film as remotely insidious as the propagandist bile that is the Young PAP’s Servant Leadership video.

With all this hype over next year’s SG50, maybe it’s the perfect opportunity for the government to exercise some graciousness and compassion by reconciling and engaging our political exiles and bringing them home, absolve them of alleged crimes, let them spend some time with their loved ones rather than whitewashing them off our history books as cowardly fugitives instead of the ‘pioneers’ that they deserve to be.

The Singapore Story is incomplete if those who dared to fight for their fellow countrymen, at the risk of cruel scrutiny and being shunned from the authorities with the same contempt as drug traffickers, scammers or murderers, never had a say in it. In the spirit of all things Singaporean and Family, the homecoming of political exiles, a gesture of the PAP moving beyond the old world paranoia of the past and putting family togetherness before petty politics, would be the one true thing worth celebrating on our 50th birthday.

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Archie comic banned by MDA for depicting gay marriage

From ‘Archie comic breached content guidelines:MDA’, 16 July 2014, article in Today

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has confirmed that it has banned one volume of the Archie. The Married Life series because of its depiction of same-sex marriage between two characters in the comic.

In a statement, the MDA said it had received a complaint about the comic – Book Three in a series of five – in March. After an assessment, it found that the content breached MDA guidelines. “We thus informed the local distributor not to import or distribute the comic in retail outlets,” an MDA spokesperson said.

…Separately, the National Library Board (NLB), which carries copies of the comic, said it acquired the comic before the MDA found its content to be in breach of guidelines.

“We will be reviewing the book in the light of MDA’s decision,” said the NLB, in response to TODAY’s queries.

“It should be noted that Archie. The Married Life was acquired for our adult collection. NLB takes a broader approach for the adult’s collection than it does for its children’s collection,” added the NLB.

Bad Bromance

Archie used to be goofball entertainment for me in my teens, but he has all grown up since. In 2009, the series courted controversy by having the main character marry BOTH Betty and Veronica in consecutive issues, prompting conservatives to accuse everyone’s favourite freckled redhead of being a ‘ bigamist’. Not sure if polygamy is in breach of MDA’s guidelines because it’s an ‘alternative lifestyle’ that sure as hell isn’t in line with ‘community norms’. It’s not just narrow-minded Singaporeans making a fuss about a comic about gay marriage. In the US, the Christian group One Million Moms protested the sale of the comic, to little success. Why didn’t MDA completely ban the movie ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ instead of giving it a lax M18 rating then? Didn’t you spare a thought for OUR own 1 million mommies and their precious norms?

The gay character in question is military stud Kevin Keller, and in the banned comic he marries Dr Clay Walker, a black man. Keller first came out in a Veronica #202 (2010), when he told Jughead that he was not interested in Veronica because he was gay. Archie never dealt with such ‘sensitive’ topics in the past. He was flirting with either the brunette or the blonde, messing around with Jughead, or watching the resident jock Reggie getting beat up by Moose. Things became edgier when he gave his first ‘interracial kiss’ to Valerie from the all-girl band Josie and the Pussycats (whom he also married). You damn philanderer you.

You’d need to go back almost half a century to find another ban that’s more ridiculous than this. In 1969, our Ministry of Culture banned five MARVEL comics, including Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Daredevil, X-men and Avengers, for themes on ‘horror, violence, suspense and fantasy’.  In 1987, Elf Quest was banned for featuring a ‘ritualistic orgy’, along with No 64 Swamp Thing and the FIRST ISSUE of Green Arrow (which shot up in price from $6 to $50 following censorship).

But first lemme take an Elfie

With such ‘adult’ themes in the new-look Archie, I doubt young impressionable minds are reading it anymore. Most teens these days probably know Christian Grey (of Fifty Shades fame) or Glee’s Blaine Anderson but have never heard of Archie Andrews. Well thanks to the ban, now they do. And then they go and experiment with BDSM and choke each other for kicks. That’s better than falling in love with another boy, RIGHT.

Not a sweet ending for Archie or Keller then. News has already leaked of adult Archie taking a bullet to save Keller’s life in the final issue of the Married Life series. To those still holding on to the banned comics as loans: SELL THEM AS FAST AS YOU CAN before NLB raids your home like the Spanish Inquisition, seizes the books and pulps it all to hell. I’m sure you can make back at least 10 times the fine for ‘losing’ it.

UPDATE: On 30 July 2014, MDA clarified that an X-men comic also featuring gay marriage was, in contrast to Archie, allowed for sale with restrictions. Astonishing X-men Issue 51 supposedly offered a ‘balanced treatment of the issue’ because there were characters who disapproved of the union. By seeking such ‘balance’, MDA is already admitting ‘Gay bad, straight good’, and too much gay for their liking equals ‘ban’.

‘Balance’ of course, in most stories about ‘out’ characters’ mainly serves as dramatic narrative so that our gay couple can overcome opposing voices and daunting odds to be together, which is what happened to the gay couple in the end anyway. Moral of the story: Don’t care what others say, get married anyway.

If MDA had followed the Archie series, they would have realised that not everything went smoothly for gay Kevin Keller either, having to endure homophobic slurs like ‘twinkle-toes’. This sure looks like a ‘balanced’ portrayal of being gay to me, but apparently not balanced enough to allow for sale THAT ONE ISSUE where the marriage occurs with not one person charging into the chapel , fist raised, crying foul at the sheer audacity of it all. Obviously, MDA had no idea what Keller had to go through to finally put a ring on it.

Now all you needed in And Three Makes Tango was for one straight, furious penguin to try to destroy the gay family by stomping all over the unhatched egg and the book might have been ‘balanced’ enough to remain on children’s shelves, even if it involved first degree penguin murder.

NLB CEO saddened by protests against gay book pulping

From ‘NLB saddened by criticism over removal of books’, 13 July 2014, article by Akshita Nandra, Sunday Times

The National Library Board did not anticipate the widespread dismay that greeted news that it had removed three children’s books following complaints about their homosexual themes, chief executive Elaine Ng said yesterday.

She told The Sunday Times in an interview that she was saddened that several local writers have withdrawn from library-related events in protest. “I’m saddened by their disappointment in us. I would like to engage those who have worked with us for a long time and hope they will accept our outstretched hands in future,” she said.

But the NLB is not changing its decision to keep the three books off the shelves. They will not be resold or donated as usually happens with discarded books, because of concern that they might be unsuitable for young children.

…”It’s unfortunate that it appears to be a knee-jerk reaction but we have an ongoing process of review,” said Ms Ng. The NLB has a collection of five million books, acquires one million a year and reviews between 4,000 and 5,000 titles a year for suitability.

Ms Ng said information about the withdrawals could have been communicated better, and suggested a public dialogue “down the road”. Asked why not hold it now, she replied: “Things are still fairly emotional.

…The NLB has not been without its supporters. One Facebook group, Singaporeans United For Family, has commended its action and claimed to have gathered more than 24,000 signatures of support as of yesterday.

In 2011, MTI minister Lim Hng Khiang praised the library as a ‘very progressive organisation’. CEO Elaine Ng chimed in by describing libraries as social learning spaces that ‘draw and unite people across ALL ages and CULTURES’. 3 years on and Minister Yaacob has suggested that the NLB also has a duty to conform to ‘existing social/community norms‘. You can’t be both ‘progressive’ and be a nanny at the same time. ‘Outstretched hands’ notwithstanding, Elaine Ng, a former research analyst and high-flyer at MINDEF, did not provide her explanation as to why the books are ‘unsuitable for young children’ and must be destroyed at all costs. I doubt they did the same thing to 50 Shades of Grey. More like a Thousand Shreds of Black and White if ‘And Three Makes Tango’ gets turned into mush. Or what about that 1987 movie about 3 grown men living together taking turns looking after a baby girl. Smash and burn the damned VCD with fire! Look at Steve Guttenberg’s face! Just look at it!

This is not a community norm

OH DEAR GOD!

OH DEAR GOD!

By not elaborating on why ‘alternative/non-traditional’ families are ‘bad’ for children, NLB’s allowing the ‘overwhelming majority’ to do the explaining on their behalf online. To say that things have been ‘fairly emotional’ is not only an understatement, but implies that NLB has mulled over the ban in a calm, objective manner unlike the pack of wild animals that is the general public; that ultimately they still believe they’ve done the right thing. This coming from a chief who was awarded a ‘People Engagement’ trophy in 2013.

Here’s a snapshot of what this self-declared ‘majority’ of concerned Singaporeans are feeling at the moment, according to the ‘Singaporeans United for Family’ FB page.

Eternal, congratulatory gratitude

awesome

Hell, just give the NLB a standing ovation and National Day award already. Unlimited loans for you and your family, sir!

Genuine fear

sodom

Bring a crucifix to the penguin enclosure at the zoo next time. They are EVIL.

 HIV

Thank you for loving gays as HUMAN PERSONS. DOWN WITH WESTERN CULTURE and their HIV epidemics!

Still, nothing sells a book like controversy, and although a few copies may be sacrificed in the pyre, ultimately the authors of Tango may even have NLB to thank for the publicity. A reading event has been organised right outside the National Library as we speak, with copies of intact Tango books available, granted permission by the Police of course. For an event intended for CHILDREN. Is that #wearwhite thing still on? Time to do some work, guys. Just make sure you don’t end up looking like, erm, penguins i.e #wearblackandwhite.

blackandwhite

NLB, you’ve just slapped yourself with that ‘outstretched hand’, and too bad we don’t have weekly bestseller lists anymore that we can shove in your self-righteous faces when a story about gay penguins makes it to the top of the charts. Penguins aside, I still enjoy a good browse every now and then, and I love that I can still find and borrow rare, surprising titles like Naomi Wolf’s ‘Vagina’ and The F-Word without anyone charging at me with a burning pitchfork ranting about defiling community norms or Sodom and Gomorrah.

UPDATE: Minister Yaacob ordered the offending books to be relocated to the adults section, and the complaints persisted. Some were afraid of pranksters deliberating misplacing the books back in the children’s section, while others disagreed that Tango should be labelled as such and wasn’t ‘age-appropriate’ for mature people. NLB must be thinking they shouldn’t have brought this in in the first place.

Children’s book about gay penguins banned from libraries

From ‘NLB removes two children’s titles after complaint that they’re not ‘pro-family”, article by Pearl Lee, 8 July 2014, ST

The National Library Board (NLB) has removed two children’s titles after it received e-mail complaints that the books are not “pro-family”. The first book, And Tango Makes Three, features two male penguins who behave as though they are a couple, while the second book, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, has two female partners trying to adopt a baby from China.

Facebook user Teo Kai Loon had posted a note in a Facebook group named We Are Against Pinkdot In Singapore on Tuesday morning, calling on fellow group members to “scrutinise” the library’s catalogue, and not allow such children’s books to “go under the radar”.

“You can always e-mail NLB for that, the action is swift, all within two days. Remember, the onus is on us,” he said.

In the same note, he also included an e-mail he had received from Ms Tay Ai Cheng, NLB assistant chief executive. In it, she said that the two books have been removed following his feedback. She added that NLB takes a “strong pro-family stand” when selecting books for children.

A true brrrr-omance

Same-sex human parents I’d probably understand, but the anti-gay lobby won’t even spare penguins, describing an unusual story about two male birds taking turns to sit over an egg as not ‘pro-family’. The BBC recently ran a story about two similar penguin fathers in Kent Zoo rearing an abandoned chick.  The headline? ‘Gay penguins in Kent zoo are ‘THE BEST PARENTS”. One lucky bird’s surrogate fathers are somehow some human beings’ enemies of the ‘family unit’. One of those people, unfortunately, is the top brass of a public institution responsible for national literacy and nurturing minds, telling children not to be influenced by the instinctive actions of an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT species. What next, The Three Little Pigs as an ode to a homosexual menage a trois, with the Big Bad Wolf doing more than ‘blowing the house down’? (If you know what mean *wink*)

I once saw two male Sun Bears at the Singapore Zoo giving each other fellatio during my vulnerable teen years. It didn’t make me want to find a man to pair- bond with. Or give fellatio for that matter. It made me think that male bears could have been fondling each other for centuries before some furious scribe decided to document the same act in humans as a terrible atrocity against God.

There’s nothing ‘pro-family’ about a NORMAL penguin ‘lifestyle’ anyway in the sense of boy meets girl and together they raise Junior to become Happy Feet. Like most beasts, males slaughter each other over mates, babies get occasionally eaten, abandoned, even kidnapped. If you’ve watched March of the Penguins you’d learn that the females abandon their young, travelling for miles to source for food, leaving their offspring with what’s practically a single-parent family. The animal kingdom is hardly a reliable model for what these purists call the ‘ideal’ family. If the NLB were so strong on ‘family values’, then ban Twilight, the Hunger Games and Sweet Valley High already, before we have a horde of horny, two-timing, violent delinquents running wild all over the country. Wait, too late.

The last time a children’s book from the library was slammed was when ‘The Story of Little Black Sambo‘ was deemed racist. NLB also banned Fifty Shades of Grey for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, kids who are deprived of a heartwarming tale of unconditional love and parenthood inspired by real life events can browse ‘teen fiction’ books outside of the library that promote premarital sex, glamorise the occult, murder, rape and kinky BDSM, without these ‘pro-family’ crusaders making the slightest tweet about it. The underaged girl who goes for an abortion is a victim, the rebel who abandons his aged parents is a rockstar, while two harmless birds enjoying each others’ company and raising a chick instead of devouring it is deemed such an abominable threat to human existence as we know it that the story must be pecked clean from libraries. Bring on more copies of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ then.

Birds have no ‘agenda’ or ‘lifestyle’ to speak of. It’s only a few gay-obsessed humans who will pick on anything to ruffle some feathers before they even witness a single act of penguin sodomy going on.

 

A-Mei’s Rainbow performance banned by MDA

From ‘No A-mei’s Rainbow for an outdoor event as it is accessible by anyone, including the young, says MDA’, 13 June 2014, article by Boon Chan, ST

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has confirmed that it had advised a music festival’s organiser not to have A-mei’s Rainbow performed. The Straits Times had broken the news here online on Wednesday that the Taiwanese diva had been prohibited from singing the track at the 2014 Spring Wave Music And Art Festival at Gardens by the Bay on June 7.

The song Rainbow is about gay relationships and A-mei is also regarded as a gay icon. According to an MDA spokesperson, this was because Spring Wave was an outdoor event accessible by all members of the public.

“For indoor events, consumer advisories are used to allow consumers to make more informed media choices for themselves and their children. The nature of outdoor performances at public spaces, such as Spring Wave which was held at Gardens by the Bay, makes it difficult to do the same. Hence, organisers of these events should ensure that their performances are suitable for general audiences.”

Overseas media reports noted that the singer was perplexed as she had previously performed the song at her gigs in Singapore.

Rainbow contains the following gay lyric: ‘Our loves are very similar, we get hurt because of men, yet we continue colliding’. It also makes a not so subtle reference to a closet (‘spacious enough to keep your paradise’). Yet it doesn’t make any explicit references to lesbian sex, or even kissing. On the other hand, despite our ban on a Katy Perry song from radio stations, the superstar still performed ‘I Kissed a Girl’ to an emphatic singalong at Singfest 2010. Which means the ban didn’t work one bit.

There’s also another platform to listen to Rainbow which is also ‘accessible by all members of the public’. It’s called YouTube. It has a live performance of A-mei waving a flag and showcases members of the audience spontaneously gay kissing.  In Singapore. Is MDA going to ban this from YouTube too?

From the video above it becomes clear to me why Rainbow is banned. It encourages heterosexual and homosexual people to smooch each other and spread the love around like a goddamn virus. Thanks for thinking of the children, MDA. Please make sure the song isn’t performed at Pink Dot too, lest we turn Hong Lim Park into a sticky mass orgy. And under no circumstances should you allow a situation where we have Adam Lambert and A-mei doing a Rainbow duet, indoor or outdoors, for the love of all things straight and innocent.

Before the rainbow became an international symbol of gay pride, it was a celestial slide into a pot of gold, a natural wonder that springs hope and brings smiles all round. The colours of the rainbow was the only mnemonic I still retain till this day after learning it in primary school. Now, thanks to the MDA, you can’t watch The Wizard of Oz or listen to a singing Kermit the Frog without wondering if their songs contain subliminal messages promoting this ‘alternative lifestyle’. My childhood is ruined forever.

Take ‘The Rainbow Connection’ for example, which can be re-interpreted as a gay anthem.

Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, (the illusion that sex can only be heterosexual)
and rainbows have nothing to hide. (come out, gays of the world!)
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Oh, Kermit. Miss Piggy ought to know.

Ashley Madison banned in Singapore

From ‘MDA blocks access to Ashley Madison’, 8 Nov 2013, article by Mohd Azhar Aziz, Today

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) announced today (Nov 8) that it will not allow the Ashley Madison website to operate in Singapore and has blocked access to the site. In a press statement, the MDA said that the website was banned in Singapore as “it aggressively promotes and facilitates extramarital affairs”.

“It is against the public interest to allow Ashley Madison to promote its website in flagrant disregard of our family values and public morality,” MDA said.

Life is short. And so is Ashley Madison’s ill-fated attempt, as creator Noel Biderman explained, to ‘migrate infidelity to a platform wherein two like-minded (Singaporean) adults can explore what it is they are seeking in a discreet manner’.  One Today writer described such a move by the MDA as a ‘paper tiger’, only to raise the forbidden fruit status of AM, though there are various tricks to bypass the censors altogether, Go Away MDA being one of them.

Pressure from Minister Chan Chun Sing aside, the 27,000 strong petition community known as ‘Block Ashley Madison‘ on Facebook yesterday fired a bellowing tirade at MDA for allowing AM to tag ‘sg’ in their domain address and ignoring the threat of weak-minded Singaporeans succumbing to the moral cesspit that is adultery. The page owner, ‘Mr Tan‘, also issued a stern warning to AM that they’ll ‘not have the last laugh’, would get what’s coming to them ’10 times harder’, and that the ‘light will always overcome the darkness’, with all the evangelical fire-and-brimstone passion of a grandmaster exorcist coercing Satan out of His human vessel. Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone, I say. Or in this case, a boulder.

Well, now that the site is blocked for good, mission accomplished BAM! You all can rest easy knowing that your spouses are safe by your side, divorce rates won’t skyrocket, that our children can focus on their PSLE with a loving stable family behind them all the way, while the rest of us continue to watch Desperate Housewives reruns on cable, reliving torrid fantasies of Eva Longoria screwing her gardener in the kitchen while her hubby is at work. Without AM’s corrupting influence, we shall no longer have the urge to take our foul thoughts a step further, log in to find the perfect willing partner to come over wearing nothing except mud-streaked overalls and getting frisky right next to the sink. Hallejulah!

I believe BAM supporters are not THAT naive and generally acknowledge that infidelity will continue to happen anyway, with or without AM. A chance meeting with an old flame, a colleague in the office, a business partner, your own student, sometimes right under the nose of our Almighty lord God. The last thing they need is something to facilitate such taboo relationships further, especially one ‘aggressively marketed’ like the Facebook for Flings with a brand name that sounds like one of the Olsen Twins or a spinoff Victoria’s Secrets catalogue. Alas, like the 100 sites ‘symbolically’ banned by the MDA, AM too has become the ‘whipping girl’ among the many platforms available for people to fool around at the swipe and a click. Like adultfriendfinder.sg, for example, where you can choose to have a ‘discreet relationship’, which isn’t exactly mystery pen pals in this day and age. Is there going to be a BAFF petition now?

Not sure if this is a case of MDA caving in to high-horse orthodoxy, or they sought guidance from moral philosophers and religious leaders before dropping the axe on AM. They’re forgetting about other debauched sites though. On the same day that AM announced its launch here, 5 Singaporeans were caught in a sting op offering to pay ‘Sweetie’, a computer generated TEN YEAR OLD GIRL, to perform very naughty things. We’re so caught up with something that’s technically not ILLEGAL that we forget about portals that encourage men to defile girls young enough to be their daughters, some granddaughters even.

Temptation to commit sins of the flesh are everywhere, whether it’s an adultery app, online casinos, a sleazy spa or a 7 Eleven selling booze and cigarettes right around the corner. It’s like restricting sex shops or R21 movies from heartlanders, or a nanny stowing away a child’s favourite toy because he’s playing with it too much. Nobody’s doing anything about our gay spas either, which harbour death traps that kill you while you’re trying to strangle yourself for erotic kicks. MDA’s ‘light touch’ regulation is really an excuse for ‘we can’t do anything about it’. Yet when something like AM stands out and should be made an example of, they pound on it like Thor’s hammer on a protruding nail.

Bye, Ashley Madison. You could have been the flirty girl next door, but the neighbours are welcoming you with burning stakes, pitchforks and crucifixes instead of wine and roses. Now that you good folks have done Singaporeans all a proud and just service that we should be eternally grateful for – expelling this wicked temptress from our doorsteps – you can all take a much-deserved break from the complaining and go back to knitting sweaters and hunting eggnog recipes for Christmas, thank you very much.

MDA’s light touch regulation is an overkill

From ‘Views published on blogs not news reporting:MDA’, 31 May 2013, article by Leonard Lim, ST and ‘New web rules amount to overkill’, 30 May 2013, Voices, Today

…From tomorrow, news sites with significant reach and which report on Singapore regularly must be individually licensed. Currently, most websites automatically fall under a class license scheme. The new framework makes clear that license-holders must remove content that is deemed objectionable within 24 hours, if notified to do so.

They must also post a $50,000 performance bond. Ten sites are on the list of those who have been formally notified by the MDA. They include seven run by the Singapore Press Holdings. The MDA statement added that it would only step in when complaints are raised to their attention, and the content is assessed to be in breach of guidelines and merits action.

“Takedown requests are not common. In the past two years, MDA has only issued one take-down notice for the “Innocence of Muslims” video,” it added.

(Vincent Law): …The Media Development Authority (MDA) statement, “as the sites are already subject to these requirements, no change in content standards is expected to result”, suggests there will not be any real advancement in quality control. What is new is that online news sites have to put up a S$50,000 performance bond, and are expected to comply within 24 hours with the MDA’s directives to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards.

Given the current healthy state of affairs in cyberspace, except for occasional skirmishes which the authorities have been able to deal with decisively, the new regime appears to be overkill.

He sees you when you’re surfing

MDA, in its Facebook announcement, maintains that the ‘framework is not an attempt to influence the editorial slant of news sites’. It’s actually the counter-intuitive ‘performance bond’ and annual renewal fees that may turn current news reporting to either self-censored mediocrity or tabloid trash if news makers compromise journalistic gung-ho or integrity for safe news or sensation in order to survive. As if having one New Paper isn’t enough.

MDA assures news providers that it tries to minimise drastic intervention, but this so-called ‘takedown’ of the Innocence of Muslims video wasn’t very successful anyway (you can still watch it on Youtube), an example of futile enforcement which proves that MDA is powerless when it comes to Internet regulation and imposing rigid standards on new media doesn’t guarantee quality or ‘clean’ media. Some whiz kid even outsmarted the government’s filters by inventing a program that allows you access MDA-banned porno sites and nobody has done anything about it to date. If there’s any little good that comes out of internet clampdown, it’s how it spurs creativity in hackers to surmount it. The ‘regularization’ of news as we know it will not be any different. They may have stunted the news, but they forget about the classic rumour-mill that is the ‘grapevine’. In fact, you don’t even need the news to spread information about an Islam-hating video. We have Facebook to thank for that. Try regulating THAT, Yaacob.

What rankles the ‘alternative voice’ community is how this whole thing was set up and communicated. Minister Yaacob once told us in 2012 that an internet ‘code of conduct’ should be a ‘bottom-up’ approach initiated by netizens, but this MDA move was clearly a bomb dropped from above without any warning signs, with the affected sites given just days to prepare for shellshock. He also once advised social media users to ‘use common sense’ in verifying the accuracy of online reports. It seems that within the space of a year, Yaacob and his lot have lost their trust in the public’s sense of discretion entirely, that if we read something about UFOs circling the sky the entire nation would immediately crumble to their feet to pray for mercy from our tyrannical alien overlords.

MDA also presumes that traditionally licensed media that is the bread and butter of the agency is naturally ‘responsible’ in their news reporting. Say what you will about the ST being a propaganda machine, but conducting a snap poll before a by-election isn’t exactly something a responsible, role-model newspaper would do whatever party they’re sympathetic to. And it appears they have gotten away with it despite having the police knocking on their doors. If there’s any media that needs MORE regulation it’s probably the mainstream media itself. MDA, unsurprisingly, was silent about the whole polling affair despite being the ones responsible for ST’s licensure. $50,000 to keep mum when regulations are flouted, well, that’s a JOB, apparently.

So I viewed the MDA rap video once more and wondered how they’d feel if I randomly censored their work.  This was the outcome:

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The image above is strangely accurate in terms of MDA’s regulatory stance. Chilling stuff.

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