Singapore, known for its glamorous first world city lifestyle displays third world mentality in the guise of the Media Development Authority (MDA), the country's primary moral guardian over presentation of arts and media in the republic. Earlier this decade, depictions of LGBT as a natural progression of society were banned or censored by the MDA from any arts and media broadcast within its jurisdiction.
Taiwan's highest grossing movie of 2004 “Formula 17”, a gay themed romantic comedy was banned from Singapore screenings for its potrayal of a “homosexual utopia, where everyone, including passersby, is homosexual and no ills or problems are reflected”. This starts a sad premise where true positive lives of LGBTs in the world today are considered unfit to be discussed and should be removed from existence.
The mantra supposedly changed in 2006 when the MDA chose to relax on its censorship in order to market itself as a arts and media centre for the region. This move allows top LGBT movies being shown uncut such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "Transamerica" in 2006. As recent as last year however, the MDA decided to grow a branch a year back in time.
A two-week exhibition of 80 same-sex kissing photos was cancelled after the MDA rejected the license on the grounds of “promoting the homosexual lifestyle” late last year. Early this year, part of the Oscar award acceptance speech by director Cynthia Wade for her documentary "Freeheld" was censored on its repeated broadcast because of its mention of equal rights for same-sex attracted individuals. Then the high profile LGBT documentary “A Jihad For Love” was also banned from public viewing.
From strictness, MDA then shows its absurdity, when they recently fined StarHub Cable Vision $10,000 Singaporean dollars for airing a commercial presenting a new song by artiste Olivia Yan called “Silly Child” which depicts two lesbians innocently kissing. The statement by the MDA reads:
The commercial which was to promote a song by the singer, 阎韦伶(Olivia), was aired on MTV Mandarin Channel on 26 and 28 November 2007. Within the commercial, romanticised scenes of two girls kissing were shown and it portrayed the relationship as acceptable. This is in breach of the TV advertising guidelines, which disallows advertisements that condone homosexuality.
MDA also consulted the Advisory Committee for Chinese Programmes and the Committee concurred that the commercial had promoted lesbianism as acceptable and romantic, especially when shown together with the lyrics featured.
In that same month, MDA fined MediaCorp TV Channel 5 $15,000 Singapore dollars for airing a home improvement show called "Find and Design" that featured a gay couple who wants to renovate their game room into a nursery for their baby. The MDA statement here reads:
The programme "Find and Design" is a home and decor series and in the episode concerned, the host helps a gay couple to transform their game room into a new nursery for their adopted baby. The episode contained several scenes of the gay couple with their baby as well as the presenter's congratulations and acknowledgement of them as a family unit in a way which normalises their gay lifestyle and unconventional family setup. This is in breach of the Free-to-Air TV Programme Code which disallows programmes that promote, justify or glamourise gay lifestyles.
MDA also consulted the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) and the Committee was also of the view that a gay relationship should not be presented as an acceptable family unit. As the programme was shown on a Sunday morning, PACE felt that this was inappropriate as such a timeslot was within family viewing hours.
This two cases shows a blatant lack of knowledge and understanding of the homosexual condition as a sexual orientation by a shallow media guardian. It is deeply regretful for the LGBT community in Singapore who is still trying to find an illusive dignified social position in the republic, to be swept under the carpet by governmental agencies such as the MDA. Media is supposed to represent truth, and recent events portray the MDA as unable to accept and realise the unsurmountable truth: that homosexuals are normal human beings and exist in equivalence to any heterosexual conditions.
The Singapore MDA sent a loud and clear message to the world; any representation of homosexuals as sensitive individuals capable of love or as a capable well-adjusted family unit is not to be tolerated. Ignorance to the existence of gays and lesbians as ordinary human beings is to be educated. And self-praising in the form of a rap video is the way to go while the artistry and talent of LGBT is to be shipped to Australia. Interesting step backward indeed, for an agency bent on proving their nation's worth as a international media hub.