Four in 10 Singaporeans unaware of children's book controversy

Two of the three titles taken off the shelves by the National Library Board (NLB) after receiving queries over whether they were suitable for children. Many Singaporeans are unaware of the controversy regarding the National Library Board's (NLB)
Two of the three titles taken off the shelves by the National Library Board (NLB) after receiving queries over whether they were suitable for children. Many Singaporeans are unaware of the controversy regarding the National Library Board's (NLB) decision to remove three children's books - which contain references to same-sex couples - from public libraries. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Many Singaporeans are unaware of the controversy regarding the National Library Board's (NLB) decision to remove three children's books - which contain references to same-sex couples - from public libraries.

A poll by the Government's feedback unit Reach found that four in 10 of the 843 citizens surveyed knew nothing of the debate, which occurred after the NLB received complaints that the books were not "pro-family".

But of the six out of 10 respondents who have kept up with the controversy, 45 per cent supported NLB's move, while 28 per cent disagreed.

Meanwhile, 23 per cent declared themselves neutral on the issue.

About 22 per cent of those aware of the issue said the books should be pulped after removal. Over half suggested other alternatives, such as moving them to the adults' section of libraries here - a top pick - or placing them in a restricted borrowing section .

Just over half of all respondents agreed that books promoting values that are not in line with traditional family values should not be made available in children's sections.

The first book, And Tango Makes Three, features two male penguins who behave as though they are a couple, while the second book, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, features two female partners adopting a baby from China.

The third title, Who's In My Family? All About Our Families, is said to have been removed two months back. It book follows a family's outing to a zoo, and includes references to single parents and same-sex couples.

Reach's telephone survey polled a representative sample of citizens aged 15 and above.

Reach chairman Amy Khor said the results "remind us that there are still issues that are divisive and can fracture us as a country". She added: "It is therefore important not to let these divisions deepen and tear us apart. In the interest of all Singaporeans and future generations, let us discuss this rationally and find a common ground that we can agree on."

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