MDA banning Elangovan’s Stoma

From ‘Media Development Authority bans Elangovan’s play Stoma’, 9 Jan 2013, article by Huang Lijie, ST

Singapore playwright Elangovan’s first play after a three-year hiatus will not be staged. The play, Stoma, which tells the story of a Catholic priest defrocked over sex abuse charges, was denied a performance licence yesterday.

It was originally slated to run at The Substation in Armenian Street from Jan 17 to 19. In a letter to Mr Elangovan, artistic director of theatre company Agni Kootthu (Theatre Of Fire), the Media Development Authority said a licence was not issued because the play contains “sexually explicit, blasphemous and offensive references and language which would be denigrating to the Catholic and the wider Christian community“.

This is the third time that a play by Elangovan has been denied licence to be staged here, after Talaq (2000), a play about a Muslim-Indian woman’s experiences of marital violence, and Smegma (2006), which comprises 10 mini plays that explore the control and exploitation of disadvantaged groups of people.

Elangovan’s earlier banned work Smegma sounds like a biography of a punk metal band or a sex-heavy meditation on puberty secretions, but it’s actually drama composed of 10 vignettes, including:

  • Three men in a prison cell making fun of  the Singapore flag
  • Kindergarten children calling their MP a PIG
  • Singaporeans sexual escapades with underaged girls (How prescient, this Elangovan)

But it was the Arts Consultative Panel’s fear that it would ‘create unhappiness and disaffection amongst Muslims’ that pulled the plug on Smegma. Interestingly, Smegma was initially granted a licence under a RA(18) rating, but got banned less than 30 HOURS before it was scheduled to play. 6 years later you would see MDA pulling the same last-minute stunt on a film that allegedly mocks Indians called Sex. Violence. Family Values. This followed a consultation with a similar panel of ‘experts’ AFTER MDA had made the more forthcoming decision of granting M18 instead.

The synopsis for Smegma contains the following line: “When the comfort zone is shattered, ugliness rears its head like SMELLY SMEGMA”, and so it is with MDA coming down hard on Stoma for its priest-sex associations, like a libido-killing, shameful splotch of spermy grime on a male porn stud’s scene-stealing manhood. What is the difference between Stoma and another similarly-themed production Doubt (performed here in 2006) anyway? Does Jesus Christ cameo in it totting a shotgun? Or perhaps it features sexy nuns showing more leg than habit?

The controversial Talaq (Divorce), which earned the playwright and even its lead actress Nargis Banu DEATH threats, was based on true stories of Indian-Muslim women getting battered and raped by their husbands.  The theatre company clashed with the National Arts Council (NAC) for inviting two deeply religious Muslim men from the South Indian Jamiathual Ulama (SIJU) on their panel, one of whom, Haji Marican, reportedly objecting to the play not so much that it depicts Muslim husbands as violent rapists, but that involuntary sex  should NOT be considered rape in the first place:

In Islamic law, a husband cannot rape his wife as long as the marriage continues. He need not ask permission from his wife for sexual relations each time he wants to have it. Even if she is angry or not in the mood, he has the right to it. In any event, a husband can have sex with his wife without her consent and that will not be rape

I’m no scholar on religious matters, but I wonder if these guys were intimidating the NAC into making an unfavourable decision not with choice religious words, but with wooden clubs that could beat off the most rabid sabre-toothed tiger. Elangovan’s wife (S Thenmoli) and president of his theatre group also got arrested for trespassing after holding a private rehearsal of Talaq in 2000. Maybe if I had threatened to nail Stephenie Meyer shut in a coffin and bury her alive, and MDA intervened accordingly, disgruntled boyfriends and husbands in Singapore would have been spared the torture of sitting through 5 soppy, draggy vampire movies which also promulgate bestial-pedophilia love between wolfmen and little girls. And all that got was a PG rating!

If there’s anything that should be banned, it’s this promo rap video below which MDA produced in 2007; for giving the arts-loving public the false impression that they’re cutting-edge and cool. I rather scrape dried smegma off a rapist’s corpse with my fingernails than listen to this. They just don’t stop, y’all.

Postscript: Barely a week after this ban, a sex scandal involving a pastor from an unnamed church and an underaged girl surfaced. Oh the irony. Elangovan’s fiction is eerily close to the inconvenient truth. Looks like the year of the Scandal is stretching past the Chinese New Year.

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One Response

  1. Why are stupidstitions protected from criticisms while basic human rights of the LGB and especially the Trans individuals suffering from gender dysphoria ignored by this backward nation of rednecks?

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