Blood boils over book ban

Blood boils over book ban
One of the removed books is And Tango Makes Three. It features two male penguins that behave like a couple and are given an egg to raise. It is recommended for children aged four to eight.

SINGAPORE - Earlier this month, a member of the public, Mr Teo Kai Loon, e-mailed the National Library Board (NLB) to voice his concerns over two children's books, And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express, which he felt did not promote the right family values.

He posted in the Facebook group, We Are Against Pinkdot In Singapore, about what he had done and included an e-mail from Ms Tay Ai Cheng, NLB's assistant chief executive, telling her that the two books had been removed following his feedback.

Yesterday, the NLB called a press conference to explain the selection process for their books.

Ms Jasna Dhansukhlal, NLB's assistant director of library services and management, said the books would not return to the shelves despite at least two petitions calling for them to be reinstated.

Instead, the books will be destroyed.

"It is the usual discarding process. Basically it is pulped. It is no longer in existence," she said.

After news broke that the books would be pulped, there was outrage online.

A Facebook group called Singapore's Parents Against Library Censorship, which was formed on Wednesday and has more than 650 members, posted: "I'm angry. I'm so very angry. I cannot believe we live in a society where libraries PULP books that some people happen to disagree with."

What is clear is that the banning of the books has been divisive.

After the books were removed, members of the We Are Against Pinkdot In Singapore Facebook group applauded the NLB and called for members to support them.

Another Facebook page, Singaporeans United for Family, claims to have garnered more than 21,000 signatures as of last night for a petition to support its cause, titled Thank You NLB For Upholding Your Role With Clarity And Integrity!

At least two petitions have called for the NLB to reinstate the books.

One of them, an open letter to the NLB by student Lim Jialiang, 23, writer Ng Yi-Sheng, 33, and Ms Liyan Chen, 31, a PhD student from the National University of Singapore, has collected more than 3,000 signatures. Another petition on online platform drew more than 1,800 signatures.

Even parents who are frequent users of the library are divided.

Ms Jodi Ling, a freelancer in her 40s who has two sons, aged three and seven, is in favour of the ban.

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