NLB's decision guided by ‘community norms’: Yaacob Ibrahim

Elizabeth Soh
Elizabeth Soh
Earlier yesterday, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim, announced that the country will be setting up a new S$8 million fund in the second half of this year to help low-income households access the Internet. “The Internet today is increasingly becoming a utility for individuals, households and organisations. The government has been stepping up its efforts at digital inclusion to ensure that no segment of the community is excluded from the benefits that the Internet can bring – for example, access to information and e-services.” - Dr Yaacob said at the ministry’s Workplan Seminar. So what will the fund do?  The new Digital Inclusion fund targets some 6,000 low-income households without school-going children. These households will benefit from Internet access, including digital voice calls and home security. On top of that, from June onwards, more low-income households with school-going children, as well as people with disabilities, will benefit from an enhanced scheme which offers families a new computer bundled with free broadband access at an affordable price. According to Channel News Asia, half of the fund will come from fines collected from the Singapore’s telecom sector. In December 2012, Singapore’s ICT regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) slapped a fine on the country’s ... The post S’pore will use fines collected from telcos to help more households access the Internet appeared first on Vulcan Post.

Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim has weighed in on the ongoing National Library Board (NLB) saga with a Facebook post explaining the government's stand on the issue.

Stating that NLB's decision to ban three children's story books deemed "not pro-family" was in line with community norms, Yaacob emphasised that NLB serves the community and, in turn, must consider the values accepted by the majority of Singaporean families.

"The prevailing norms, which the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans accept, support teaching children about conventional families, but not about alternative, non-traditional families, which is what the books in question are about," he posted on Friday.

"Like in other societies, there is considerable effort by some in Singapore to shift these norms, and equally strong pushback by those who don’t wish to see change... but NLB’s approach is to reflect existing social norms, and not to challenge or seek to change them."

He added that the recent withdrawal of books was a move made only with respect to the children's section, and that NLB was not deciding what books children can or cannot read — a job that still belongs to parents.

"Rather, NLB has to decide what books should be made readily available to children, who are sometimes unsupervised,” he said.

Response to Dr Yaacob's post were mainly positive.

"The Minister has correctly pointed out that NLB libaries are the wrong platform for such intense issues to be debated on," posted Facebok user Clarence Tham. "Let's keep this debate to the playground of discerning adults and leave the children out."

Parent Rebecca Lee also agreed, saying, "Thank you for speaking the thoughts for many of us parents, indeed many atimes kids browse through books without supervision."

Yaacob's post comes following intense debate on the Internet over NLB's decision to withdraw and destroy three story books with non-conventional family themes.