“Controversial — that word has been used a lot,” says Kenneth Teng of his friends’ and peers’ somewhat nervous response to news that sexuality would be the theme for this year’s Perspectives Film Festival.
“Another term used was ‘sensitive topic’,” he recalled. Clearly, it is a subject that Singaporeans are uncomfortable with.
It was especially interesting to hear of these responses from Kenneth and Sophial Foo, joint Festival Directors, because both are still students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The cohort they are referring to are people roughly their age; young people whose internet-rich environment is filled with tremendous sexual diversity, or so one might have thought. Continue reading ‘Perspectives Film Festival hopes to spark a better discussion of sexuality’
Young filmmaker Boo Junfeng posed two questions to Lawrence Wong, the incoming Minister for Community, Culture and Youth during a phone-in chat last Friday evening (14 September 2010). The minister’s responses don’t inspire much confidence. Continue reading ‘New ministry, old ideas’
In a fictional country that still has detention without trial, one detainee, Sid Fajardo, manages to escape.
[T]he Homeland Security Department attempts to cover up their security faux pas. So when Fajardo’s lawyer, Kristina Allende, comes calling to take instruction from her client about his habeas corpus writ, the deputy director of the department threatens and coerces [another] of his detainees, Borgie Xavier, to stand in for Fajardo. To disguise Borgie as Fajardo, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Solo injects Borgie with a potent drug such that Borgie breaks out in a disfiguring rash and would therefore be unrecognisable.
– synopsis to Square Moon, a new play by Wong Souk Yee
Allende, the lawyer, at first falls for the ruse, but soon has her suspicions. This leads to her being arrested too. Continue reading ‘Square Moon swallowed by public tax monster’
The above is a segment of a TV production that was broadcast on ChannelNews Asia on Tuesday, 9 July 2012. The “Talking Point” episode was entitled, “Should we promote safe sex along with abstinence?” This segment however is about homosexuality.
The three participants speaking are a curriculum director from the Ministry of Education, a pupil development specialist from a secondary school and a student. It begins with someone calling in with a question.
Coloured boxes contain my comments. Continue reading ‘Roundabout language on homosexuality only sounds suspicious’
On its website, Singapore’s Ministry of Education says that one of the key messages of its sexuality education curriculum is: “Practise abstinence before marriage, as it is the best protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and unwanted pregnancies.”
Does no one there realise that even after marriage, sex carries the same risks? So why make it sound like sex is so terribly dangerous only to the unmarried? Playing up the risks in such a one-sided way raises a flag of suspicion that some other motive is at work.
No surprise then that there has been much criticism online. Continue reading ‘The Education Ministry and the abstinence from intelligence’
Sometimes, on an ordinary day, minding one’s own business, we cannot help but notice things that make us think beyond our private thoughts and about the wider world. And so it was one evening last month when I visited my father in hospital. I found him bored out of his wits.
“Why don’t you at least turn on the telly?” I asked.
“There’s nothing there.”
I wasn’t going to believe him so easily. So I fiddled with the remote to surf the channels. There were our handful of free-to-air channels (in other words, nothing worth watching), and another 6 or 7 cable channels. With the exception of the Cartoon Network, all the cable channels were Arabic. Three of them are imaged on this page – channels 15, 18 and 14. There were news, drama and even Arabic cartoons. Continue reading ‘Priorities, priorities’
Shame has no place in Singapore. We boast of being “first-world” and speak of striving to be “world-class” in this and that, while quietly engaging in third-world autocratic methods as if there is no contradiction.
Shame – the critically-acclaimed film directed by Steve McQueen – has also been effectively banned, joining a long list that includes A Jihad for Love (dir: Parvez Sharma), David the Tolhidan (dir: Mano Khalil) and Boy (dir: Auraeus Solito). Continue reading ‘A country without Shame’
It’s getting to the point where if you find homosexuality offensive and do not wish to be “confronted” with it, you’re going to need to withdraw from the modern world. For example, there’ll be films and music videos that fill the entertainment pages that you can’t watch. If your friends talk about them over dinner, you can’t participate.
Two films with big advertising budgets now playing in Singapore cinemas will be off your list because they contain homosexual characters. One may not be such a great loss, it being rather mediocre, but if you for ideological reasons cannot watch the better of the two (and far better), then it’s your loss.
The mediocre one is J Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and rated M18 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on account of “some homosexual content”.
Continue reading ‘Playing gay and the new normal’
Published 22 January 2012
art and entertainment
If you have spare time this Chinese New Year, go see the digitally animated version of Qingming Shanghe Tu at the Singapore Expo (hall 3). It will be on until 6 February 2012. Admission for adults: $21; closes at 9 p.m.
However, do take a barf bag with you.
Continue reading ‘Go see the animated scroll with barf bag in hand’
Ten years ago, I would have been quick to write, with great agitation, about letters such as the one by a Josephine Tay, published in the Straits Times on 26 November 2011. She took issue with naming an orchid after Elton John, suggesting that the move signalled open encouragement and endorsement by the government.
Now, I am still annoyed with battle-axes like her, but no longer greatly. My pouncing reflexes are not what they used to be. Perhaps I am mellower with age, but mostly, it’s a sense that the crest of the mountain has been crossed. There’s still much rough ground to cover before we reach the end of the journey, if indeed we even know what “end” means, but the incline is such that the risk of sliding backwards just because someone is pushing against us is much smaller.
Continue reading ‘Orchids, fathers, sons and anti-gay battle-axes’