The Media Development Authority (MDA) has confirmed that the comic, Archie: The Married Life” Book Three was withdrawn from bookstores because its content “breached guidelines by depicting same-sex marriage of two characters.”
The MDA told the media that it received a complaint in March about the book and had assessed it. It then decided to ban the book and accordingly advised the local distributor not to import or distribute the comic here.
According to the media, the MDA said its Publications Consultative Panel was consulted before it made the decision to withdraw the comic book.
The MDA said the panel advised it that the theme of the comic was “not in line with social norms” and were thus in breach of content guidelines.
The ban was flagged by comic artist Sonny Liew in his blog on 11 July. When he could not find the book at Kinokuniya, he enquired with the bookstore and was told that the MDA had ordered it removed.
He posted on his blog on 11 July, “At this point it is unknown whether this ban on sales was due to outside pressues (as with the NLB) or if it was a unilateral decision by the MDA – currently waiting for a reply from them about the mechanisms and processes involved behind restrictions on books, especially ones that do not appear to pose a threat to political stability (compared with, say, a racially charged tract).”
It is unclear when the MDA had ordered the book to be withdrawn from Kinokuniya.
“Beyond that – what other titles might also have faced sales bans without any wider public awareness?” Mr Liew asked. “How does the MDA discover them and make decisons about them?”
The National Library itself, which also carries copies of the comic, told the press that it “will be reviewing the book in the light of MDA’s decision.”
“It should be noted that Archie. The Married Life was acquired for our adult collection. NLB takes a broader approach for the adult’s collection than it does for its children’s collection,” the NLB said.
On Wednesday, three judges of this year’s Singapore Literature Prize resigned in protest over the National Library Board’s destruction of two children’s books which depicted alternative family structures, which the NLB said was not “pro-family”.
Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim, supported the NLB’s decision and said the NLB had to “reflect community norms.”