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.”
Friday, February 03, 2006
Last September, when Danish daily Jyllands-Posten commissioned and published a series of 12 cartoons on Prophet Mohammed, it probably did not realise that it would bring Europe's free speech advocates almost to the brink of war with conservative Muslims.
Masked gunmen took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam's Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.
While the Danish newspaper has not apologized for printing the cartoons, it has issued a statement acknowledging that the cartoons "offended many Muslims, which we would like to apologize for."
Paul Belien at The Brussels Journal singles out the courage of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has refused to capitulate to the bullies:
"He is one of the very few European politicians with guts. If anyone deserves a prize for his valiant defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it is certainly Mr Rasmussen. He did not give in to pressure from Muslim fanatics, nor from the appeasers at the UN, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. In the past weeks Denmark has shown that all is not yet lost in Europe. If something is rotten now it is not in Denmark."
But an editorial in yesterday's (2nd Feb 2006) edition of France-Soir staunchly defended the decision to publish, asking: "Islam forbids any representation of the Prophet ... The question is, are all those who are not Muslims obliged to honour that prohibition? Can you imagine a society that added up all the prohibitions of the different religions? What would remain of the freedom to think, to speak, or even to come and go freely?" it asked.
In Singapore Madam Zuraimah's letter to the press about her aversion to pet dogs landed two young men in jail. Where is the rot?
Other examples of how Islamic fanatics react to perceived slights on their religious practices:
# 1988 Ayatollah Khomeini issues fatwa against Salman Rushdie after publication of his book "The Satanic Verses"
# 2001 The author Khalid Duran faces mass condemnation from Muslims for his book which sought to explain Islam to Jews, culminating in alleged death threats for his apostasy
# 2002 Fatwa issued against the Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel after she suggested that Muhammad might approve of the Miss World contest
# 2004 Extremist kills the Dutch director Theo Van Gogh after he made "Submission", a ten-minute film about the abuse of Muslim women featuring Koranic verses written on female bodies
# 2005 Swedish museum is forced to remove a painting depicting a couple making love while covered in verses from the Koran
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made this revealing remark at the 4th Asia-Pacific Roundtable meeting:
"When Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses" was published some years ago, Singapore banned it because we knew it will cause trouble. In contrast, we did not ban "The Last Temptation of Christ" because the Christian ground and the Muslim ground are different.