'Sugar babies'-linked party exits F1 line-up

Dating platform Sugarbook’s party will no longer be part of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix-related events marketed by the Singapore Tourism Board.
Dating platform Sugarbook’s party will no longer be part of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix-related events marketed by the Singapore Tourism Board.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM SUGARBOOK.COM

STB, party organiser agree not to have event sponsored by Sugarbook in race campaign

A party sponsored by controversial "sugar babies" dating platform Sugarbook will no longer be part of the Singapore Formula One (F1) Grand Prix-related events marketed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) this year.

Malaysia-based Sugarbook - a dating platform which matches younger "sugar babies" with older and wealthier men - was listed as one of the sponsors for the Sky Grande Prix party.

The event is slated to take place from Sept 12 to 16 at a bar in the Grand Hyatt Singapore hotel.

But STB director of sports Jean Ng told The Straits Times yesterday that the board and the organiser of the party mutually agreed that the event will no longer be part of the Grand Prix Season Singapore campaign this year.

The Grand Prix Season Singapore is a series of F1-themed lifestyle experiences and promotions that the public can enjoy beyond the race track.

Ms Ng added: "STB will thus be focusing on other events in the final stretch of our Grand Prix Season Singapore campaign in the lead-up to the race."

The party organiser is Vanilla Luxury, a luxury lifestyle marketing agency and digital magazine based in Singapore.

The Straits Times and evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported on Thursday that Sugarbook is one of the co-sponsors of the party.

 
 
 

STB had told ST then that organisers of events marketed under the Grand Prix Season Singapore manage sponsorship for their events independently and are not obliged to inform STB proactively.

It said it was not previously aware of Sugarbook's status as a co-sponsor of the Sky Grande Prix party, and added that it was following up with the organiser of the event on the matter.

Sugarbook was founded last year and claims to have more than 200,000 members. It sparked concern earlier this year after it was cited in news reports saying it wanted to recruit more "sugar babies" in Singapore, with promotions targeting undergraduates.

Responding to the questions in February, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee had told Parliament the police would closely watch dating platforms that match younger users with older, wealthier men and women.

If money is being exchanged for sexual services among users of such sites, the police will take action under the Women's Charter, including possibly against the website and its owners, he said.

Sugarbook will be presenting The Fast Lane event at the Sky Grande Prix party on Sept 14. It said in a press statement on Aug 16 that the event will increase the number of users for the platform, and it may give partygoers a better insight into the world of "sugar dating".

Asked if it had approached any government agencies on sponsorship matters and why it decided to sponsor the event, among other queries, Sugarbook yesterday said it is a global digital platform that enables consenting adults to find suitable partners, and it complies with the law by ensuring all participants are above the legal age of consent.

A spokesman for Vanilla Luxury yesterday said the Sky Grande Prix party is not an event for Sugarbook only, and is not organised by the dating platform.

The spokesman added: "This year, Sugarbook is only one of our many partners. In every event and relationship, compliance with the law is mandatory."

The spokesman said the brand looks to create diverse experiences for audiences at its events, and it reaches out to brands that are aligned with this.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline ''Sugar babies'-linked party exits F1 line-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe