Subtle censorship

Jacques Human

Singapore’s cultural diversity comes with a political catch. The government of Singapore censors political, racial and religious issues, to a certain extent, through out-of-bounds (OB) markers that set boundaries on what is acceptable for public discussion. The term is used to distinguish between which issues are ‘sensitive’ and which are not, with the boundary between the two shifting depending on the political climate.

As of 1 June, the government introduced new licensing rules which require news websites to pay a S$50,000 bond (approximately US$39,500) for an annual licence if they have more than 50,000 domestic visitors every month, and bars news sites from posting content that “undermines racial or religious harmony”.

More than 2,000 activists staged a rally against the new rules, which have been viewed as an attack on freedom of expression, but the government maintains that the rules are necessary to maintain the delicate balance of a multicultural society.

OB markers also cover the arts and cultural performances, most of which must be vetted by the government before public display. Race, religion, nudity and other forms of ‘obscenity’ are the usual points of contention, as well as any claims of corruption or nepotism in government.

About the author:

Jacques Human is a Staff Writer at Nexus Strategic Partnerships


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