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DECISION IN LINE WITH THE NORMS

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim (above) explained the Government's stand on the withdrawal of the children's books in a Facebook post yesterday. He gave these reasons:

  • The withdrawal was not based on a single complaint, without an attempt to assess the merits of the complaint. The National Library Board (NLB) has a process where its officers carefully consider such feedback before making a decision.
  • The decision applies only to the children's section in the public libraries. The NLB is not deciding what books children can or cannot read. That decision remains with the parents, as it always has been. People can buy these titles for their children if they wish.
  • The NLB's decision was guided by community norms. Public libraries serve the community and it is right that they give consideration to community norms.

NORMS

The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about.

This approach is shared between all public agencies dealing with the education and care of young Singaporeans.

He said: "Like in other societies, there is considerable effort by some in Singapore to shift these norms, and equally strong pushback by those who don't wish to see change.

"Societies are never static, and will change over time. But NLB's approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them."