MDA lifts ban on 240 publications ranging from communist material to adult interest content

 MDA has lifted a ban on 240 publications, ranging from anti-colonial material to adult interest content.
MDA has lifted a ban on 240 publications, ranging from anti-colonial material to adult interest content.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A ban on 240 publications, ranging from decades-old anti-colonial and communist material to adult interest content, was lifted on Wednesday (Nov 25) following a routine review by the Media Development Authority (MDA) .

But 17 publications remain prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act, which restricts the import, sale and circulation of publications that the Government considers contrary to public interest.

This means individuals are not allowed to possess these publications and they cannot be distributed or sold in Singapore.

The announcement of publications which remain prohibited appears in the Government Gazette's online portal.

Explaining the "de-gazetting" of the 240 publications, the MDA said that it "routinely reviews prior classification decisions, in order to ensure that they keep pace with societal norms".

It added the decision was made after discussions with relevant government agencies and the Publications Consultative Panel, which provides views and feedback to MDA on matters pertaining to publications.

  • List of 17 publications which remain prohibited

  • 1.       Elite
    2.       Men Only
    3.       PlayGirl
    4.       Mayfair
    5.       Hustler
    6.       Cheri 
    7.       Playboy
    8.       Girls of Penthouse
    9.       Swank
    10.     Gallery
    11.      Penthouse
    12.      Genesis 
    13.     Velvet
    14.     Fiesta
    15.     Knave
    16.    All publications by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society 
    17.    All publications by International Bible Students Association

Several of the affected publications are also out-of-print.

The affected publications include the anti-colonial Tamil periodical Dravida Nadu, which was banned in 1949; four communist titles including The Long March, a play banned in 1959; and the English-language magazine World Student News, banned in 1957.

Also no longer gazetted are several adult magazines and books such as The World Of Sex. Fanny Hill, published in 1748 and considered one of the first erotic novels, was also taken off the list after being on it since 1966.

Most of the 17 titles that remain banned are magazines containing sexual content such as Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and Mayfair, as well as lesser-known titles like Men Only and Swank.

Also prohibited are all publications by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the International Bible Students Association. The latter was gazetted in 1994, and no other publication has been added to the list since then.

Both organisations are part of the Jehovah's Witnesses group that oppose the bearing of arms and members refuse to perform national service.

MDA said the prohibited publications include hardcore pornographic or religiously sensitive publications which remain in print and that these "remain contrary to public interest".

The last review of restricted publications was conducted in 2004, when Cosmopolitan magazine - known for its articles on fashion, relationships, and sex - was allowed into Singapore after a 22-year ban.

On the titles which have been taken off the prohibited list, the MDA said that publishers who wish to sell them should check if the publications are in line with MDA content guidelines for imported publications.

"The publications industry is largely self-regulated. In assessing whether a publication is suitable for importation or distribution, importers, local publishers and retailers refer to content guidelines issued by MDA and the Undesirable Publications Act.

"Importers may refer the publications to MDA if in doubt," it said.