S’pore writers not happy over NLB controversy

S’pore writers not happy over NLB controversy
The penguin meme that has been circulating in social media. Photo: Alan Seah
Novelist/playwright Ovidia Yu resigns from the Singapore Writers’ Festival steering committee, others are boycotting an NLB panel discussion on Sunday
Published: 2:17 PM, July 11, 2014
Updated: 7:07 PM, July 11, 2014
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SINGAPORE — Is a bit of an understatement. Ever since the news broke about the National Library Board (NLB) pulling out (and deciding to “pulp” or destroy) the books And Tango Makes Three, The White Swan Express and Who’s In My Family? All About Our Families because of complaints from members of the We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore Facebook group, social media has been buzzing like mad with the spread of the penguin meme (see above) and also some strong reactions, including from Singapore writers.

Novelist/playwright Ovidia Yu announced her resignation from the Singapore Writers’ Festival steering committee, citing the NLB being a programme partner as the reason.

Poet Felix Cheong, TV writer Prem Anand, graphic novelist/poet Gwee Li Sui and fictionist Adrian Tan have all decided to boycott a panel discussion they were supposed to have at the NLB on Sunday titled Humour Is Serious Business.

So yes, apparently they’re not laughing anymore.

Other statements and comments from other Singapore authors have also been floating around Facebook.

Fellow poet Ng Yi-Sheng encouraged fellow writers to bring up the topic of the book pulping if they get invited (and accept) invitations for NLB events.

“They could have chosen a compromise solution, such as putting the books in Adult Lending, or even the Reference Section. They didn’t. Don’t think they won’t do the same again,” he said.

Young Artist Award recipient Cyril Wong voiced his frustration. “As a queer writer, I think I have reached a limit of some sort, in the light or dark of recent events. I don’t know why I’m bothering anymore. By sometime next year, I’m just going to stop; yes, stop publishing, stop working with governmental organisations, even stop writing.”

Fellow YAA Alvin Pang had earlier written a lengthy note expressing his concern.

“As a Read! Singapore author and Singaporean writer who is frequently called upon by the NLB as a resource person, and also as a concerned parent, I am disturbed by the recent withdrawal of two books from the Children’s section — made at the request of a member of the public, but without, it seems, any broader consultation or consideration of alternative measures.

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