In the run up to an imminent election this year, the Government, through Minister of Manpower Ng Eng Hen, accused the Worker's Party of planting 'time bombs' in their Party Manifesto that would destroy key pillars of Singapore's stability and success. Ng identified as 'dangerous and wrong' four proposals by the opposition party: to scrap grassroots organisations, ethnic integration policies and the elected presidency, and to raise subsidies.
The "R-21" rating system was first introduced by George Yeo's MITA (Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts) in 1991 with the R(A) rating (the "A" stands for "artistic") to allow those aged 18 years and above to watch more adult type films, i.e. featuring frontal nudity and explicit sex scenes. Swift public objection resulted in the rating system being quickly revised and the age limit was lifted from 18 to 21 years old. Movies rated R(A) are supposed to be shown downtown, and not in neighbourhood cinemas. Unlike other countries, where such movies are shown in special adult cinemas, R(A) movies in Singapore can be showing next to the cinema hall running a Disney cartoon. If ever there was a time bomb planted to undermine Singapore society, this must be it.
On Monday 20th February, The Straits Times reported that a 17-year-old studying information technology at Nanyang Polytechnic, going by the name of Tammy, had filmed a 10-minute mobile phone video with her boyfriend, which recorded close ups of her engaging in fellatio, and front and rear penetration.
Her phone was subsequently stolen and the culprit posted the video on the internet. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since the report, several teachers have told The Straits Times that they are seeing the same or worse in their schools. Many teenagers – girls as well as boys – have been caught with pictures and video clips showing themselves and their partners naked or having sex.
Said a discipline teacher in one of the top junior colleges here: “In the last half year alone I have checked the phones of five of my students after some complaints about them storing porn. One had naked pictures of herself and her boyfriend in different positions, and two of the boys had pictures of naked women on their phones, one of them of his girlfriend. What is disturbing is that... the boys were showing them off to their friends.”
Teachers say they attempt to counsel students and their parents, but admit that parents often have no idea about the technology their children are using. They are shocked when presented with the evidence.
Another secondary school teacher discovered pictures of naked girls on a male student’s phone. “He had taken pictures of several of his girlfriends and was showing them off to his friends. He didn’t think that what he was doing was wrong and he wanted to file a report against me for looking into the contents of his phone,” the teacher said. One of the boy’s girlfriends, also a student at the school, was not ashamed of her pictures being circulated. “She was proud of it. She said it was artistic.”
Youth counsellors say students are resorting to such measures to gain popularity. Veteran youth counsellor Carol Balhetchet said: “The new technology makes it all very easy, and with "celebrity bloggers" revealing it all, it has become acceptable, even cool.”