Down with this: Lim speaking to other writers at the Arts House in Singapore. - The Straits Times / Asia News Network
SINGAPORE writers continue to protest against the National Library Board’s removal of three children’s titles because of homosexual themes.
Yesterday, novelist Suchen Christine Lim told an audience of 100 local and international writers at a literary conference at The Arts House that the library board’s action disregarded the feelings of single parent and other alternative families like hers and her friends’.
She began her keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Writers’ And Translators’ Association conference by asking those present to stand and “send good energy and best wishes to all the children in Singapore whose families do not fit into the official mould of ‘one man, one woman and their children’”.
News broke last Tuesday that three children’s picture books had been withdrawn from public library shelves after a reader’s complaint, and would be destroyed or “pulped”.
The books are: And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two male penguins which hatched an egg in a New York zoo; The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, featuring a lesbian couple and single mother among others; and Who’s In My Family?: All About Our Families, which features various family structures.
Lim, 65, was a single parent to her two sons and was also brought up in a single parent family for a time before her mother remarried.
She said the removal of these books was a disappointment.
“In removing and pulping those books on various family structures, the National Library Board is telling these children that they and their families don’t count. In removing these books, NLB is reducing such children and their families into invisibility,” she said.
The audience in the Chamber of the former Parliament House stood and applauded her words, including Hong Kong writer Nury Vittachi and Singapore writers Verena Tay and Josephine Chia.
Also present was writer Felix Cheong, who along with fellow authors Gwee Li Sui, Adrian Tan and Prem Anand, withdrew from an NLB panel discussion last week, to protest against the withdrawal of the picture books.
Cheong, 49, wore a brand-new T-shirt decorated with three penguins, a logo which has been adopted by those against NLB’s removal of the books.
Meawhile, an Archie comic book depicting a same-sex marriage has been barred from sale in Singapore after a public complaint, and the NLB is reviewing its available copies.
Sonny Liew, 39, a graphic novelist based in Singapore, uncovered the restriction after writing to bookseller Kinokuniya on July 10. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network