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NLB provokes mixed response by moving controversial children's books to adult section

Published on Jul 18, 2014 1:46 PM
A mother reading one of the three banned books, And Tango Makes Three, during the Let’s Read Together event, a reading event held in response to the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to pulp the titles. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The National Library Board's (NLB) decision to move two children's books with references to same-sex couples into the adult section - instead of pulping them - has drawn mixed reactions.

Architect and single mother Ms Jaxe Pan, 29, called it a "fair compromise", adding: "I am going to tell my daughter proudly that no matter how small you are, in size or numbers, you always have a voice in your country."

She had earlier attracted more than 7,000 Facebook 'shares' by posting a photo of herself and her daughter, along with a message to Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim. It said: "Single families are real, so are adopted families, blended families, gay men and lesbian women. It's okay that you do not like us, but please do not remove our stories and pretend we do not exist."

The two children's books, And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express, contained references to various family types, including same-sex couples.

Facebook group Singaporean United For Family, which last week started an open letter collecting signatures to support NLB's move to withdraw the titles, said: "We respect NLB's right to balance the different interests at stake, in order to ensure that books in the children's section are age-appropriate.

The group added that it will "call upon all sectors of society to lay aside their differences and take steps to rebuild connections with NLB".

However Mr David Ng, a 51-year-old senior financial consultant, who signed the petition, said: "The real issue here... is about having such children's books which promote an alternative lifestyle, in the library which is supposed to serve the community at large. And the community is a conservative one."

Mr Lim Jialiang, 23, started a petition last week with writer Ng Yi-sheng and PhD student Liyan Chen to protest against NLB's move to withdraw the titles. He said putting the books back in the library's adult section "is a reasonable move of compromise, and a reaffirmation of our secular, shared space".