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Censorship in Singapore

Singapore consults in censorship law review

3rd October

Updated: Milk for the Old Aged...

Singapore government partially implement recommendations from recent censorship review

The Singapore government has partially relaxed television broadcast guidelines allowing cable operators to screen movies containing nude scenes or explicit violence.

By the end of next year, cable operators will be able to offer Restricted 21 (R21) movies to pay-to-view subscribers, the ministry for information, communications and the arts (MICA) said in its 2010 censorship review.

Under the new guidelines, cinemas located in downtown Singapore can continue to screen R21-rated movies such as Hollywood's gay biopic Milk [rated 15 in the UK] .

But a ban on showing R21 movies remains in suburban cinemas, the ministry said.

Lui Tuck Yew, MICA's acting minister, said the new guidelines will offer more choices to adults while allowing parents more control to protect their children from explicit violence and sex: We decided that we ought to be governed by the principle that you make it available in a way where the adult, and especially the parent, will be in a position to exercise greatest control. And so the home environment was the one that we picked. And for those who want to watch it in cinema... it is only a 30-minute bus ride away or less.

There will be the necessary parental locks and other safeguards in place to restrict access to children and television viewers aged 20 or younger, Lui said.

Update: PG-13 accepted but not an end to internet blocking

3rd October 2010. Based on article from

Singapore has resisted calls from a government-appointed panel to liberalize the symbolic 100-website ban, a government minister said.

The government wants to increase content choices for adults ... BUT ... prevailing societal values need to be upheld, said Lui Tuck Yew, acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.

That means the government will still block access to 100 pornographic and extremist websites, Lui said at a news conference.

We should move with, rather than ahead of, society, he said, adding that the panel's public survey found that 67% of respondents wanted to keep or expand the website ban.

The website ban will be kept as a symbolic statement of our society's values, Lui said, adding that internet service providers will be asked to actively market content filters to users.

Asked if the retention of certain bans reflected the continuation of government paternalism, Lui said it didn't: I don't believe that retaining (a ban on) 100 websites shows that we are nannified . He noted that Australia is proposing a wider ban on undesirable websites: Nobody calls them a nanny state. [The Melon Farmers Do!].

The government accepted the new PG13 movie rating though.


26th September

Updated: Old Rules...

Singapore censorship review committee proposes less restrictions on R21 films

R21 films may soon make their way to local cinemas as well as DVDs and pay TV, if recommendations by the Censorship Review Committee (CRC) are accepted by the Government.

The CRC report called for relaxation in content and regulation standards, given that technological changes are undermining the old ways of restricting content. With more content streaming through the Internet, the existing media regulations will become less effective. Responsibility must shift to individuals and parents, who must be empowered to make choices for themselves and for their children.

The panel, a state-appointed group of 17 people, was convened to review current censorship regulations across media such as films, videos and publications, as well as the arts. It is chaired by Goh Yew Lin, chairman of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory.

In a bold suggestion that may raise eyebrows, the panel wants R21 content to be made available on more platforms - at home and in local cinemas, the panel has recommended that videos may be sold in video stores, provided the industry can enforce the restriction of sale to minors.

It also suggests that R21 content be available on subscription TV and video-on-demand with a default parental lock.

Making a case for easing of R21 content, the committee's report said: Where consumers have the ability to exercise controlled choice, as is the case with video-on-demand, R21 content should be permitted. However, its introduction should be carefully calibrated, and only allowed if there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent access by minors .

The commitee also recommended that a new PG13 rating be introduced to 'provide a stronger signal to parents on the nature of the content and to facilitate appropriate rating of films with some mature content.

The CRC has submitted its report to Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, which is expected to respond in a month's time.

Update: Fitting in Dark Knight

26th September 2010. Based on article from , thanks to Sean

Singapore's Censorship Review Committee is recommending that the country become slightly less buttoned up and that content regulation become more pragmatic.

The committee, which spent nearly a year deliberating, recommends the introduction of a new PG-13 film classification.

Explaining the idea of a PG-13 category Vijay Chandra, chairman of the Films Consultative Panel, said that The Dark Knight was rated PG, meaning that even primary school age children could watch it, although its violence may have upset parents. However, he said that an NC-16 rating would have been unwarranted.

As a consequence of the result of a PG-13 rating being introduced, Chandra said that the average PG film would then become milder and more innocuous.

In total the committee made some 80 recommendations including dropping the word censorship from the title of future review committees to the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. The ministry is expected to respond within a month.


17th September

Update: Cyber Wellness Programme...

Singapore recommends mandatory internet filters for parents

The Censorship Review Committee has issued its report after nearly a year of deliberations.

Among its recommendations are mandatory Internet filters to give parents more control and responsibility over what their children can access online. Filtering services are currently available through Internet Service Providers SingTel and StarHub but there has been minimal marketing and take-up of these services , said the report.

The committee said these filters should be easy to understand, requiring parents only to answer a yes or no .

The filters would replace the current symbolic ban on 100 websites, but the government should retain the power to ban websites that are seen as a threat to national security, for example, terrorism and extreme racial or religious hate sites.

These efforts should be complemented by a cyber wellness programme that is incorporated into the national educational curriculum.


11th December

Update: Public Consultation...

John Thomas Toys
Silicone Dildos
Singapore reviews its censorship policies

The Censorship Review Committee (CRC), which was convened in September, will be carrying out a survey to get people's views on Singapore's current censorship rules.

Views will be sought on regulation of the entire media spectrum - from broadcast, film, publication and audio material, to the arts and new media - said a CRC statement yesterday.

The survey, to be carried out by research company Nielsen, will start next month and take place over a four-month period.

Face-to-face interviews will be done with about 1,000 Singaporeans.

The interviews will cover issues such as community perceptions and attitudes towards existing content in various media platforms.

Meanwhile, the public can give their views online at the CRC's website,


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