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MDA removes 240 titles from list of prohibited publications

SINGAPORE –The Media Development Authority (MDA) today (Nov 25) removed 240 titles from the list of prohibited publications, including anti-colonial and communist materials, as part of the authority’s routine exercise to review earlier classification decisions.

MDA removes 240 titles from list of prohibited publications

TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE – The Media Development Authority (MDA) today (Nov 25) removed 240 titles from the list of prohibited publications, including anti-colonial and communist materials, as part of the authority’s routine exercise to review earlier classification decisions.

But 17 publications remain prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act as contents of these publications “remain contrary to public interest”, said the MDA spokesperson.

“In de-gazetting these items, the Government has considered the prevailing content and community standards in Singapore. MDA assessed that a number of these de-gazetted publications are out-of-print or are permissible under today’s content standards,” said the spokesperson.

She added that the review was also made in consultation with the Publications Consultative Panel and relevant agencies. A gazette notice on the publications was published on the Government’s e-gazette portal this evening.

The Act, which was enacted in 1967, restricts the import, sale and circulation of publications that are contrary to public interest. Individuals are also not allowed to possess these prohibited materials and they cannot be distributed or sold in Singapore.

On why the authority decided to review these publications, the MDA spokesperson said that they routinely review prior classification decisions to ensure that they “keep pace with societal norms”.

There was a review of prohibited publications was in the late 1990s where some communist publications were removed from the list of prohibited publications. The last “de-gazette”, noted the MDA, was for Cosmopolitan magazine in 2004 to “give adults access to more mature content”.

No additional publications have been gazetted since 1994.

On the most recent titles that were taken off the prohibited list, the MDA noted that while they can be distributed and sold, a small number may still be “considered objectionable”. This means they cannot be distributed and sold but individuals can own personal copies.

Examples of the 240 titles taken off the list include anti-colonial publications such as the Tamil periodical Dravida Nadu and Malay periodical Nusa dan Bangsa Melaju as well as communist publications such as The Long March and World Student News, banned in 1959 and 1957 respectively. Chinese graphic novels and adult interest publications such as Fanny Hill were also removed from the restricted list.

The remaining 17 prohibited publications include hardcore pornographic publications that remain in print and should not be distributed or circulated in Singapore, said the MDA spokesperson. These include Playgirl, Hustler and Girls of Penthouse.

All publications by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the International Bible Students Association are also prohibited. Both organisations are part of the Jehovah Witnesses.

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