Auditor-General's Report 2013/2014

Auditor-General lists govt agencies' lapses

For more than 2 years, the Ministry of Health (MOH) doled out a total of S$64,000 in financial aid -- to 99 dead Singaporeans.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) was hoodwinked by 11 "tourists" into paying them S$35,300 in Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds.

These were among the lapses of government ministries and statutory boards in the 2013/2014 financial year, revealed yesterday in the latest report by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO).

Auditor-General's Report flags irregularities in use of public funds

Lapses in the administration of grants, schemes and programmes, as well as instances of weak management of resources which resulted in wastage, were highlighted in the Auditor-General's Report for the Financial Year 2013/14, released on Thu (Jul 17).

After a few years in which the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) focused on procurement-related issues, it said it "consciously shifted" the emphasis for this year's audit to other areas to give the public sector time to enhance their procurement systems.

This year's report - submitted by Auditor-General Willie Tan Yoke Meng to President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Jul 1 & presented to Parliament on Tue -- highlighted the following areas for public sector entities to pay greater attention to:
  • Administration of grants and commitment of public funds (4 serious observations cited)
  • Administration of schemes and programmes (7)
  • Management of land and assets (4)
  • Procurement (8)
  • Other lapses (8)
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Room for improvement in how CPF Board administers schemes

Of the 7 lapses cited by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in the administration of schemes and programmes, 3 were attributed to the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB).

First, the system of checks to detect incorrect payment of CPF contributions by employers for staff away on Operationally Ready National Service was inadequate, relying solely on wage records submitted by employers, with no independent verification. In an instance in May 2013, an employer notified the CPFB that it had underpaid S$816,000 in CPF contributions over 10 years for employers performing NS, the AGO said in its report released on Thu (Jul 17).

In response, the CPFB said it would improve its methodology for auditing NSmen wage records, and has investigated and fully recovered the balance from a total of 28 employers for underpayment or non-payment.

MINDEF cited in Auditor-General's Report for lapses in management of land

In the Auditor-General's Report released on Thu (Jul 17), the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) was cited for 2 of the four lapses identified in the area of Management of Land and Assets.

A piece of State land was licensed to Sembawang Country Club in 1994 for use as a golf course. The licence agreement did not specify an end date, even though the licence should not exceed three years, according to State Land Rules.

Also, the country club sublet 6,842 sq m of wooded land within the golf course that was not covered by the licence to a contractor -- tantamount to unauthorised letting of State land, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) said. MINDEF says the club is looking into the matter.

MDA rapped for failing to monitor project deliverables: Auditor-General's Report

Among the 3 statutory boards cited in the report for lapses in the administration of grants and the commitment of public funds, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) highlighted the Media Development Agency (MDA) for being lax in monitoring the submission of project deliverables by recipients of grants.

In 5 out of 28 projects audited, the deliverables were not submitted to the MDA up to 12 months past their stated deadlines, while deliverables for 2 other projects were submitted two to 6 months late.

"There was no evidence that MDA had taken prompt actions to follow up on these cases, which defeated the purpose of requiring grant recipients to meet specified milestone deadlines," the AGO said in its report for Financial Year 2013/14, released on Thursday (July 17).

'Logic flaws' in NLB's computerised system for selecting, purchasing books

8 agencies were cited by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) for lapses in procurement procedures.

Among those highlighted in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 released on Thu (Jul 17) was the National Library Board (NLB)'s computerised system, implemented in 2012. The system, meant to help the selection and acquisition of books from its panel of vendors "with minimal human intervention", suffered from "logic flaws and inadequacies", according to the AGO.

Between Dec 2012 & Oct 2013, library materials worth S$3.76 million were purchased from the only vendor recommending the title through the computerised system, without giving other vendors a chance to enter a quote. "By doing so, there was no assurance of value for money," said the AGO

'Serious irregularity' as NParks officer created backdated documents for audit

The Auditor-General's Office (AGO) listed 8 lapses that did not fall under the other broad categories outlined in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 issued on Thu (Jul 15).

These included weaknesses in controls for the processing of housing allowance payments by the Ministry of Education; contracts made outside Singapore not being signed by authorised signatories, in the case of the Foreign Affairs Ministry; and weak controls over seized items by the Health Sciences Authority.

NPARKS: "A SERIOUS IRREGULARITY" - During the audit of the National Parks Board's development of the Gardens by the Bay, the AGO noted that certain documents may have been created and backdated to give the impression that they existed when the transactions took place -- a "serious irregularity", said the Auditor-General.


Singapore hawker dishes

Update 20 Jan 2021: Spread your wings as a ‘Hawkerpreneur

With S$11K Temasek Poly certificate program

Singapore hawker dishes: Chilli crab

If there’s one dish that tops the “must-eat” list of visitors to Singapore it’s chilli crab. Whether you eat it in a hawker centre or a posh seafood restaurant, digging into a whole crab swimming in sweet and spicy sauce is the most memorable (and messy) meal that Singapore has to offer. Unlike most hawker …

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Singapore hawker dishes: 328 Famous Katong Laksa

You can get a bowl of laksa, a spicy seafood noodle soup, at any hawker centre, but Singapore's east coast traditionally lays claim to katong laksa -- regarded as a quintessentially Singaporean dish.

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Singapore hawker dishes: Lor mee

Lor mee is a hawker dish of Hokkien heritage. The lor or gravy is simmered for hours, with spices, meat stock, egg whites and corn starch to give it its sticky consistency; served with flat yellow noodles and some crunchy additions, it’s dish worth seeking out while you’re in Singapore.

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Singapore hawker dishes: Kway chap
So you really want to try a classic Singaporean hawker dish? Kway chap isn’t for beginners, and will perhaps only suit those brave enough to lust after, say, haggis in the West, but it’s well worth seeking out for its rich soy sauce-based gravy, delectable flat noodles and tender pork offal. Forget newfangled nose-to-tail dining; this …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Wonton Mee

A Singapore hawker dish of Chinese origins, wonton mee takes two of our favourite things – noodles and dumplings – and combines them into one steaming bowl of goodness. Add a generous serving of roasted pork and you’ve got a delicious meal that will set you back only S$3-4. Noodles with wontons is a dish …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Popiah

Vietnam may be better known for fresh summer rolls, but at Singapore hawker centres you’ll find a comparable creation called popiah. Not only do popiah make a healthy snack, they’re a bargain at around S$1.50 per roll. As you may have guessed from its similarity to a spring roll, popiah is a hawker dish of …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Char Kway Teow

If you think fried noodles don’t get any better than phad Thai, it means you haven’t tried char kway teow. This popular Singapore hawker dish combines rice noodles, seafood, Chinese sausage and lard into one sinfully savoury dish. We hope you’re not counting calories. Translated from Chinese, char kway teow means “stir-fried rice cake strips”. …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Laksa Soup
Spicy, sour, sweet and savoury – the popular Singapore hawker dish of laksa blends many flavours into one delicious bowl. Once you try it, you may just find yourself craving hot soup in spite of the tropical heat. While most Singapore hawker dishes can be categorised as having Chinese, Malay or Indian origins, laksa is …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Yong tau foo

If you’re a fussy eater who likes to know every ingredient that goes into your meal, this healthy soup is the perfect Singapore hawker dish for you. Every bowl of yong tau foo is custom-prepared with the diner choosing the ingredients and even the flavour of the broth. Common in hawker centres and foodcourts across …

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Singapore hawker dishes: A tale of two Rojaks

Rojak is a Malay word meaning ‘mixture’. But if you hear it used in conversation in Singapore, it’s probably referring to what’s for lunch. Rojak is the name of not one but two hawker dishes, and both are delicious and completely different. First up is fruit rojak, also known as Chinese rojak, which is best …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Carrot cake (Chai Tow Kueh)

Placing an order for “carrot cake” with a wizened man with a wok, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would expect a slice of cake with cream cheese icing. The name of this classic Singapore hawker dish isn’t meant to deceive; it’s simply the result of a direct translation from Mandarin. The main components of …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Chicken rice

Forget chilli crab — if Singapore has a national dish it’s definitely chicken rice. First of all, this simple but tasty dish is something that Singaporeans genuinely eat all the time. No hawker centre is complete without a chicken rice stall and it’s a balanced meal – carbs, protein, chilli sauce – for just a …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Cantonese roast meat
If you want to try Singapore hawker food but nothing too exotic, Cantonese roasted meat is the perfect introduction. For only a few dollars, you get a complete meal with rice, soup and your choice of roasted duck, pork or chicken. The stalls are easy to identify too — just look for the display of …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Teochew porridge

Teochew porridge or ‘muay’ is so healthy that it doesn’t seem like a typical hawker dish — in fact, it’s likely as close as one will get to home-cooked food outside your home. Pretty much every food court or hawker centre in Singapore will have an ‘economy rice’ stall — a smorgasbord of meats, fish …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Fish-head Steamboat

There are steamboats — and then there are fish-head steamboats. If you don’t already know, a steamboat is an Asian hotpot of a simmering stock in which one cooks meat and vegetables. While the steamboat scene in Singapore is a hodgepodge of Thai, Sichuan, Japanese and Korean buffet varieties in restaurants, the classic Singapore hawker …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Barbecue stingray

It’s wise to keep an eye out for stingrays when you’re swimming in shallow water, but you should also watch out for them at Singapore’s hawker centres – they’re delicious! Though it may seem exotic, stingray (also known as skate) is available at any hawker stall specialising in fresh seafood alongside the squid, prawns and …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Satay
If there’s one thing that’s universal about the human race it’s our love of barbecue. At Singapore hawker centres, this frequently takes the form of satay – bite-size morsels of grilled meat served with a peanut sauce so good you’ll be licking the bowl. Most satay vendors offer a variety of meats and the usual …

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Singapore hawker dishes: kaya toast

Though they’re best known for spicy foods like chilli crab and char kway teow, Singapore hawker centres also serve up a quick, cheap breakfast. One of the most popular local breakfast items is kaya toast, a tropical twist on toast and eggs with enough calories to last you through lunch. Kaya is a uniquely Southeast …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Roti prata

Sometimes simple is best. Roti prata, a popular Singapore hawker dish imported from South India, is a deliciously buttery flatbread served with a bowl of curry. It’s equally popular for breakfast or a midnight snack, and is one of the few hawker dishes that is easily made vegetarian. Roti prata (called roti canai in Malaysia) …

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Singapore hawker dishes: Thosai (dosa)
Thosai (also spelled dosa) is a savoury pancake served with a slew of spicy dipping sauces. Like so much of the Indian food popular at Singapore hawker centres, thosai are cheap, tasty and 100% vegetarian. The recipe for thosai was brought to Singapore from South India, a region where being vegetarian is the norm. The …

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Our top 10 Hawker Centres

Singapore is a food lover's paradise. Luckily for those on a shoestring budget the city's best eats aren't at five-star restaurants but at the plentiful hawker centres. Squeaky-clean Singapore forbid street food decades ago, rounding up its sidewalk chefs into foodcourt-like settings called hawker centres. They're clean, cheap, and offer diverse and delectable food. Hawker centres are everywhere, but if you're feeling overwhelmed by choice here are some of our favourites:
  • Lau Pa Sat
  • Chomp Chomp
  • Maxwell Food Centre
  • East Coast Lagoon Food Village
  • Gluttons Bay
  • Food Republic @ Wisma Atria
  • Newton Food Centre
  • Fortune Centre
  • Golden Mile Food Centre & Complex
  • Tekka Centre

The Makansutra: Singapore's famous foodie guide

Who says you need a lot of money to eat like a king? Singaporeans have applied the foodie mentality to their beloved hawker stalls where the best meal of your life can cost only a couple bucks. There are hundreds of blogs and guides rating Singapore’s thousands of food stalls, but the most highly-regarded foodie guide is the Makansutra.

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Singapore’s best heartland hawker centres

To outsiders Singapore is one sprawling city, but to its residents there are two distinct divisions: town and the heartlands. Often the only part of Singapore that visitors experience is Orchard Road, Raffles Place to Marina Bay and other central areas where you find five-star hotels and people queuing to shop at Louis Vuitton. A sharp contrast, the heartlands are largely residential areas with HDB housing flats, public schools and, of course, the most authentic Singaporean food. The hawker centres in the heartlands may be well outside the usual sightseeing areas, but are worth the trip for their cheap and tasty eats:
  • Old Airport Road Food Centre
  • Changi Village
  • Tiong Bahru Market
  • Chomp Chomp Food Centre
  • Pasir Panjang Food Centre
  • Adam Road Food Centre


Proposal to tweak Gender Bias in Women's Charter

Maintenance could be awarded based on need and not just gender

MEN who are incapacitated may soon be able to claim maintenance from the wives they are divorcing.

The idea of awarding maintenance based on need and not only gender is one of the proposed amendments to the Women's Charter that may be tabled in Parliament after public consultation ends early next year.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing revealed this yesterday after he joined a women's group dialogue at the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO).

Maintenance could be given based on need, not gender
Govt considers tweaks to Women’s Charter to provide for ‘exceptional’ cases as families’ needs change

A woman may be asked to contribute to the maintenance of her former husband under exceptional circumstances, such as when he is permanently incapacitated, under possible changes to the Women’s Charter that are being mulled over.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said yesterday that the Government is considering tweaking the Charter, which protects families and ensures the maintenance of wives and children, to provide better support for them.

He said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will also be exploring how relief can be given to a “handful of men” who are permanently or severely incapacitated and are unable to pay maintenance to their former wives. In such cases, the woman could be asked to support her former husband instead.

Maintenance based on needs rather than gender could take place

Award maintenance based on needs and not just by gender – that is one proposed amendment to the Women's Charter that could take place after public consultations wrap up early next year.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (July 23) after a dialogue with representatives from various women's groups, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (July 23) that the Government will look at different parts of the Charter to see which areas can be strengthened.

"While today we are very focused on the issue of supporting the women and the children, there are some very exceptional cases where we may have to look at the interests of the men, who might be incapacitated for whatever unfortunate circumstances,” he said. “They might have met with an accident and be unable to work, so the issue is if they get into divorce proceedings, then what can we do as individuals and as a society to help them in such unfortunate circumstances where they get a double whammy - where they not only see their marriage broken up, but at the same time they might be unable to care for themselves."

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Proposed changes to Women's Charter: Maintenance may soon be given based on need, not gender

The idea of awarding maintenance based on need and not gender is one of the proposed amendments to the Women's Charter that may be tabled in Parliament after public consultation ends early next year.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said this after he joined a women's group dialogue on Wednesday.

Possible changes to the Women's Charter will be based on recommendations released recently by the Family Justice Review Committee, which is reviewing the family justice court system here.

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Spouse who earns more should pay alimony

While the Women’s Charter should be tweaked, the Ministry of Social and Family Development can do more than helping “incapacitated” men. (“Maintenance could be given based on need, not gender”; July 24)

If a man earns more than his spouse, the divorce settlement is straightforward. If he earns less, his spouse can obtain alimony and the man has no legal recourse.

Even if the court decides that the woman does not require alimony, there is no provision to provide the man with alimony. Men should not have to be “incapacitated” to obtain alimony, they need only earn less.

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Are current maintenance cases being addressed?

It is heartening that the Ministry of Social and Family Development is carrying out a series of conversations with social and civic groups that will presumably provide valuable feedback in crafting the Family Justice Bill.

I trust that this feedback gathering will be done as inclusively as possible, including the Opposition and the whole spectrum of women’s groups, and done with an open mind so that the outcome will be a fair and comprehensive Bill.

Meanwhile, I note with concern that about 3,000 applications for enforcement of maintenance orders are filed annually in the past two years.

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Hari Raya AidilFitri 2014

Festival of Breaking of the Fast

The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, called Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. Hari Raya literally means ‘celebration day’, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of dawn-to-sunset fasting.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri is considered one of the two most important celebrations for Muslims, the other being Hari Raya Haji – the festival of Abraham’s sacrifice.

Hari Raya is one of the biggest holidays in Malaysia, and many Muslims (and even non-Muslims) return to their family home (balik kampong) driving or flying home for a couple of days before the day to be with their families and loved ones. There are often jams during this travelling time but these soon resolve as other travellers reach their destinations.

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Hari Raya Aidilfitri - The Joy of Fasting

After 30 days of dawn-to-dusk fasting during Ramadan, the first three days of Hari Raya Aidilfitri are celebrated on a grand scale. While Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations are colourful and fascinating, you should take note that the fasting month leading up to the holiday is a good time to experience the Malay culture and heritage.

For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is devoted to worship, charitable deeds and acts of compassion. To cleanse one’s body and soul, they practice fasting in physical and spiritual forms as well as charitable deeds. When the sun sets, families and friends often gather to break the fast with evening prayers and meals, and the streets of Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam come alive with performances and street bazaars. If you’re in Singapore during Ramadan, this is the best times to soak in the festivities. Head to the Malay Village in Geylang Serai or make your way to Kampong Glam, an area that was once home to Singapore’s Malay royalty. Both precincts attract Singaporeans of all races, and wherever you’re from, you’re welcome to take part in the celebrations.

Besides the glittering street light-ups and traditional decorations, you’ll find street stalls that open from early afternoon till late into the night, selling a wide variety of traditional food, fashion, textiles and handicrafts. From tailor-made traditional dresses known as ‘baju kurung’, hand-woven cushion covers to affordable Persian carpets and delightful flower arrangements, you’re bound to find a keepsake of the festivities. In Geylang Serai, you’ll also find stalls that personalise key chains and door signs for the home, all engraved and painted by hand on finely-crafted wood.

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As Hari Raya comes to an end, the majority of families will open up their houses and invite their friends and relatives to partake in a sumptuous feat, including traditional Malay dishes
One of the most anticipated dishes served during the Hair Raya festivities, and also an iconic symbol of the occasion, is the ketupat. Just take a stroll through one of the street bazaars at Geylang Serai in the evenings, and you will definitely recognise it in its signature rhombus form everywhere.

While there are a few schools of thoughts regarding the Ketupat's origins, this is my favourite: The word Ketupat is believed by some to originate from the Javanese term, ngaku lepat, which means to admit one's mistakes. The complexity of the lef weaving that wraps the ketupat is said to symbolise the mistakes and sins committed because of our human nature, and the white inner is said to represent purity and deliverance from sins after the Ramadan fast, prayer and rituals.

According to the legend, this style of rice preparation originated when seafarers going on long sea voyages needed a way to keep cooked rice from spoiling and to protect it from insects and flies.

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Hari Raya Idul Fitri in Singapore

Idul Fitri is a public holiday in the Lion City (banks and government buildings are closed for the whole week) even though resident Malay-Muslims are outnumbered by the straits Chinese majority. Not that Idul Fitri is celebrated with any less enthusiasm – if anything it is a livelier happening attended by all creeds and colors. It is also the most accessible opportunity for inquisitive visitors.

It all kicks off in the traditional Malay enclaves at Kampong Glam and Gelang Serai (check out the supersized Ramadan Bazaar) with the ‘Great Hari Raya Light Up.’ Expect twinkling lights, lanterns and deafening firecrackers.

It is well staged managed in typical Singaporean style but a great opportunity to mingle and the street snacks (glutinous sticky rice and super sweet cendol) are to die for.


Singapore hawker dishes: Kway chap

A bowl of kway, or flat rice noodles, in a soy-based gravy
Really, it tastes better than it looks!

So you really want to try a classic Singaporean hawker dish? Kway chap isn’t for beginners, and will perhaps only suit those brave enough to lust after, say, haggis in the West, but it’s well worth seeking out for its rich soy sauce-based gravy, delectable flat noodles and tender pork offal. Forget newfangled nose-to-tail dining; this is the original real deal, a slurpworthy breakfast that can be topped up with more bowls of kway long after the meaty bits are gone.

Like many hawker dishes in Singapore, kway chap is of Teochew Chinese origins.Kway refers to the thick, broad sheets of rice noodles, which come served in a bowl with the offal, while chap means soup or gravy. The key pork parts used are the skin and intestines, which must be carefully cleaned — this is why kway chap stalls are well-staffed by workers who start this process in the wee hours of the morning, earlier than most other stalls. After the organs are cleaned, they are braised in a thick gravy made from dark soy sauce, meat stock and a variety of aromatic Chinese herbs.

Kway chap is not as easily found as other Singapore dishes due to the massive amount of preparation needed; look for a larger stall manned by at least three people, with trays of brown, braised offal laid out for diners to choose from.

» Singapore hawker dishes: Char kway teow

» Singapore hawker dishes: wonton mee
» Singapore hawker dishes: Lor mee
» Singapore hawker dishes: Cantonese roast meat
» Singapore hawker dishes: Yong tau foo


How often should I replace my car battery?

Image Gallery: Batteries

Car batteries are the strong, silent member of the automotive team. They do their job regardless of heat, cold weather and the drivers who demand so much of them. While a battery that allows a car start at the first turn of the key is a joyful thing, it doesn't last forever.
In fact, depending on where you live and how you drive, the condition of your charging system, and a number of other factors, a battery lasts about four years on average. And when it does give out, there's generally no sign of trouble -- your car just dies.
While the lead-acid car battery hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, it's still a difficult part of the car to check during routine maintenance. Simple battery testers can't, at this time, muddle through the chemical complexity of what goes on in a battery. Instead, they provide a sort of snapshot of the battery at the time it's being tested -- without the context of the battery's chemical composition before or after the test.
So the rule of thumb is simple for battery replacement: You have approximately four years before the battery will theoretically begin its slide from chemical powerhouse to chemical paperweight. At the four year mark, start watching, and hope your mechanic will detect a problem before it's too late.
But due to the nature of the chemical cocktail inside any battery, it may give out before the four year mark, or maybe it will last for several more years. So you have to ask yourself, "Do you feel lucky?"

Normal Life of a Car Battery

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, "normal" is determined by a number of factors that exist in theory but rarely come to pass. For instance, a battery has an average normal lifespan of four years under normal conditions. "Normal" in this case means the battery goes through full charge cycles, isn't subjected to extreme temperatures, is attached to a reliable and consistent charging system and isn't providing power for a ton of accessories. See, normal just isn't normal. In the real world, temperature extremes, vibration, short trips down the street and an ever-increasing array of MP3 players, GPS receivers and other devices take a toll on the battery.
If you look at a typical lead-acid maintenance-free car battery, it's easy to make sense of why these factors affect normal battery life. Inside the plastic box are plates of materials like lead and lead dioxide. The plates are suspended in a mix of water and sulfuric acid, which forms an electrolytic solution. This solution allows electrons to flow between the plates -- that flow of electrons is essentially electricity.
A host of factors can disturb this chemical reaction. Vibrations from rough travel or a poorly-secured battery can shake loose or damage the plates. Extreme heat speeds up the chemical reaction, shortening battery life, while extreme cold can sometimes prolong battery life by slowing down the reaction. This is why some batteries are covered by an insulating sleeve to keep extreme temperatures in check.
Driving style can affect the reaction, too. Starting the car takes a huge jolt of electricity, so the charging system has to step in to replenish the battery. If you have a short commute or take lots of brief trips, the battery never gets fully charged. This constant state of undercharge results in acid stratification. Inside the battery, the electrolytic solution goes from homogenous -- or the same all the way through -- to a rough vertical split. The upper half of the solution is a light acid, while the bottom is a heavy acid. The light acid layer will begin to corrode the plates, and the heavy acid solution will start to compensate for the car's electrical needs by working harder than it's designed to work. The result is a shorter battery life, even though the battery shows up as working on routine tests.

Signs of Car Battery Problems

The most obvious sign of a battery problem is a dead battery. However, because the battery is part of a larger system connected to other parts of the car, a dead battery may indicate a deeper problem than simply no juice. If something else is going wrong in the electrical system -- say, a weak alternator -- a working battery may be providing less electricity than it should.
The best way to test a battery is with the electronic testers available at most automotive shops and even a few auto parts stores. A tech will hook the tester to the battery in the car, and it will take a snapshot of your battery's condition and indicate whether it needs to be replaced. This check should be a part of routine vehicle maintenance and done every time you have an oil change.
The battery itself provides other clues to whether it's on its way out. The first is age. If the battery is older than three or four years, start expecting problems. Second, take a look at your driving habits. Remember, short trips and long periods of inactivity will sap a battery's life. Third, take a look at the battery itself. Corrosion or stains mean you have a leak. If your battery is covered in a case or insulating sleeve, remove it every once in a while to see what's going on underneath. Look for buildup around the terminals as well. You can clean the buildup off with baking soda and water -- just remember to use gloves and safety glasses while working. The electrolytic solution is partially sulfuric acid, which is not gentle on the skin. Finally, smell the battery, paying attention to rotten egg odors (sulfur) or the smell of the battery overheating.
Batteries are so reliable and so simple that drivers have a tendency to forget they're even there until it's too late. If you pay attention to your car's battery and conduct a few tests and observations along the way, you'll reduce your risk of being stranded on the road. All things considered, batteries are relatively inexpensive, considering the amount of work they perform on a regular basis.

Replace a Car Battery

Replacing a car battery is relatively easy and can be part of a regular auto maintenance schedule. While there seems to be a dizzying array of batteries on the market, only three companies produce most of the maintenance-free batteries used in the United States today -- Delphi, Exide and Johnson Controls Industries. Each company manufactures batteries that are marketed by different companies under different names. The name brand on the battery doesn't ultimately matter. What does matter is age, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity and group size.
  • Age: Batteries usually come with a manufacture date on them, and they should be sold within six months of that date. Check the date carefully before you buy. The date is often coded. Most codes start with the letter indicating the month -- A for January, B for February and so on. The number indicates the year, as in 0 for 2000 or 1 for 2001.
  • Group size: This measure determines the outside dimensions and where the battery terminals are. Make sure the group size of the battery you're buying matches that of the one you're replacing -- otherwise you could wind up with a battery that has a different size and configuration than your car can use. Fortunately, most battery sellers group them by the car make, model and year they can be used for.
  • Cold cranking amps: This is a measure of a battery's capacity to start a car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius), when the engine oil is thick and the battery's chemical potential is low. The higher the CCA, the better it will start in the cold. Most batteries list this on the battery sticker, though some only list CA, or cranking amps. CA is measured at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and is usually a higher number. However, it gives a less accurate assessment of how well the car will start in the cold.
  • Reserve capacity: This is the toughest number to find but one of the most useful. It indicates how long your car can run off battery power alone if the alternator suddenly dies. It can usually be found in the battery literature at the store or online, or occasionally on the battery itself.
Follow these rules and you should be able to weather the worst a bad battery can throw at you, and find a reliable new one when you need it.

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Archie And The NLB Books Ban Saga

Update 1 Aug 2014: The Alternative View

MDA directs bookstores to pull edition of Archie comics off shelves because it depicts "same sex marriage"

It said this came after public complaints.

So if Lawrence Khong has a gang of servants going around Singapore inspecting books and sending requests to MDA to have them pulled off shelves, can we still call this country a secular and inclusive society?

No ban on X-Men comic due to ‘balanced treatment of gay marriage’
In Astonishing X-Men Issue 51, gay superhero character Northstar marries his partner Kyle Jinadu

An Archie comic book which featured a gay marriage was removed from local bookstores earlier this year — but another comic with a similar theme — Astonishing X-Men Issue 51 — can still be found on the shelves.

This is because the X-Men comic, published by Marvel Comics in 2012, offered a balanced treatment of the issue, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) told TODAY.

In the X-Men comic, gay superhero character Northstar marries his partner Kyle Jinadu — a plotline similar to Archie: The Married Life Volume Three, which was removed from bookstore chain Kinokuniya in March. Archie: The Married Life features the marriage of Kevin Keller, the popular series’ first openly gay character.

No Sex Please, We're Singaporeans

Referring specifically to Astonishing X-Men Issue No. 51, the Media Development Authority statutory board spokesman said: “The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language.” The presentation on the cover of the comic is a graphic illustration of two full grown men, not penguins, about to suck face. MDA had had actually assessed the particular X-Men issue way back in 2012, two whole years before raising hell about “And Tango Makes Three”, “The White Swan Express” and “Who is in my Family?”

The Kinokuniya Singapore main store at Ngee Ann City had the presence of mind to have it wrapped in plastic and labelled “Unsuitable for the young”. After all, we hardly want young impressionable minds to be misled into thinking that it is perfectly a-okay to smooch passionately in full view of a conservative public. Even when Jack Neo was carrying on with his couch casting extra curricular activities, he had curtains installed in his vehicle. Whatever happened to "Go get a room"?

What boys and girls, boys and boys, and girls and girls do in private is their personal affair. Even the cops have promised not to barge into bedrooms to enforce section 377A of the law. But you really have to draw a line when amorous couples embrace so openly and explicitly that your kid will start to doubt the stock-brings-babies version of procreation.


MDA has explained its decision to ban the Archie comic issue featuring a gay marriage while retaining an Astonishing X-Men issue with the same theme.

According to it, the X-Men issue depicted opposition to the marriage and provided a "balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage.”

“The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language," it says. What is wrong with the MDA?

Archie ban: It is sad, it is stupid

The Media Development Authority’s decision to remove Archie: The Married Life Volume 3 from sale has come under fire from more groups – including the American publisher of Archie Comics, who said they disagree with it.

“Obviously, we do not agree with Singapore’s decision to ban such a key book in our publishing catalog.

“Archie: The Married Life V3 is a milestone issue featuring the first gay marriage in comic book history. We stand by that story now as we did when we published it,” said Alex Segura, Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing at Archie Comics.

Archie comic breached content guidelines: MDA
Selected copies of Archie: The Married Life on sale at Kinokuniya, Takashimaya. Volume three, which features a gay wedding has been left out from the shelves. Photo: Don Wong

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has confirmed that it has barred from sale one volume of the Archie: The Married Life series because of its depiction of same-sex marriage between two characters in the comic.

In a statement, the MDA said it had received a complaint about the comic – Book Three in a series of five – in March. After an assessment, it found that the content breached MDA guidelines. “We thus informed the local distributor not to import or distribute the comic in retail outlets,” an MDA spokesperson said.

The MDA also consulted the Publications Consultative Panel in the process. “Its members advised that the theme of the comic was not in line with social normal and is in breach of content guidelines,” the spokesperson said

Archie comic barred from sale in Singapore due to same-sex marriage depiction
An image from an issue of Life With Archie is pictured courtesy of Archie Comics Publications. An Archie comic book depicting a same-sex marriage has been barred from sale in Singapore after a complaint from a member of the public, and the National Library Board (NLB) is reviewing its four currently available copies. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

An Archie comic book depicting a same-sex marriage has been barred from sale in Singapore after a complaint from a member of the public, and the National Library Board (NLB) is reviewing its currently available copies.

Mr Sonny Liew, 39, a graphic novelist based in Singapore, uncovered the restriction after writing to bookseller Kinokuniya on July 10. When asked, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said it had assessed the comic in March after receiving a complaint and found it breached the guidelines with "its depiction of the same-sex marriage of two characters".

The MDA added: "The Publications Consultative Panel, which comprises a cross-section of (28 members from) Singapore society, was consulted. Its members advised that the theme of the comic was not in line with social norms and is in breach of existing content guidelines."

Decision to pull Archie comic incongruous with Singapore’s market economy
The report Archie comic removed due to ‘breach of content guidelines’ (July 17) stated that the Media Development Authority (MDA) reviewed the comic following a complaint

The MDA consulted its Publications Consultative Panel, the comic was judged to have breached content guidelines and the decision was made to pull the offending book from the shelves.

I have few quibbles with the review process except that the MDA should publish the minutes and decisions of its consultations to keep the public informed of how its guidelines are interpreted and enforced.

Archie comic banned by MDA for depicting gay marriage
Bad Bromance

Archie used to be goofball entertainment for me in my teens, but he has all grown up since. In 2009, the series courted controversy by having the main character marryBOTH Betty and Veronica in consecutive issues, prompting conservatives to accuse everyone’s favourite freckled redhead of being a ‘ bigamist’. Not sure if polygamy is in breach of MDA’s guidelines because it’s an ‘alternative lifestyle’ that sure as hell isn’t in line with ‘community norms’.

It’s not just narrow-minded Singaporeans making a fuss about a comic about gay marriage. In the US, the Christian group One Million Moms protested the sale of the comic, to little success. Why didn’t MDA completely ban the movie ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ instead of giving it a lax M18 rating then? Didn’t you spare a thought for OUR own 1 million mommies and their precious norms?

The gay character in question is military stud Kevin Keller, and in the banned comic he marries Dr Clay Walker, a black man. Keller first came out in a Veronica #202 (2010), when he told Jughead that he was not interested in Veronica because he was gay. Archie never dealt with such ‘sensitive’ topics in the past. He was flirting with either the brunette or the blonde, messing around with Jughead, or watching the resident jock Reggie getting beat up by Moose. Things became edgier when he gave his first ‘interracial kiss’ to Valerie from the all-girl band Josie and the Pussycats (whom he also married). You damn philanderer you.

What will MDA do to this comic?
Archie: The Married Life Volume 3 may be the first comic to depict a gay wedding, but it is not the only one

In Marvel Comics’ Astonishing X-Men #51, Northstar marries his partner Kyle Jinadu.

Unlike the Archie comic though, this publication is sold in Singapore’s bookstores.

search on Kinokuniya Singapore’s web catalogue showed that the Astonishing X-Men #51 issue is on the shelf.

Singapore halts pulping of gay-themed children's books
And Tango Makes Three is a true story about two male penguins in a zoo that raise a chick. AP Photograph

Singapore has stopped its national library from destroying two children's books with gay themes, after an outcry over literary censorship in the tightly regulated city-state.

The information minister, Yaacob Ibrahim, ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children, after another title was pulped by the National Library Board (NLB).

"We stand by NLB's decision to remove the three books from the children's section," Yaacob said on his Facebook page, adding that the board would "continue to ensure that books in the children's section are age-appropriate".

NLB and the Erosion of our Secular Morality
Two of the three children's titles - And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, recently removed by the National Library Board (NLB). Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has instructed the NLB to place the two books in its adult section, instead of pulping them. -- ST FILE PHOTO

The National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to remove and pulp the three children’s books deemed to offend Singapore’s “pro-family” norms has reignited the age-old contest between Church and State, and more specifically in Singapore’s context, the role of private morality in public policy and how the state should adjudicate between competing conceptions of morality in society.

Many view the current debate in starkly binary terms - a contest between a religious or conservative majority and a liberal minority that represents a small but vocal segment of society. According to this binary view, those who claim to be pro-family are naturally assumed to support the withdrawal of the offending children’s books.

Yet in all my conversations in the last few days with former and current civil servants (many of whom held or are holding senior positions), I was surprised to find that not a single one of them supported NLB’s decision. None of them, as far as I know, are enthusiastic supporters of the Pink Dot movement or view the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community as an important issue for the government to address. Many of the civil servants I spoke to were also Christians who would readily say that they subscribed to “family values”. But all of them were deeply disturbed (even offended) by NLB’s decision, not just by the decision to remove the books, but also by its underlying rationale and what it says about the kind of public service we’re becoming.

Singapore halts destruction of gay-themed children's books
Parents and children stage their reading protest. Photo: Xinhua

Singapore has separately banned a volume of the long-running US comics series Archie because its depiction of a marriage between two men was deemed to breach local "social norms".

Government officials claim that most Singaporeans are conservative and do not accept homosexuality.

The two books to be moved to the adult section of public libraries are And Tango Makes Three - a true story about two male penguins in a New York zoo that raised a baby penguin - and The White Swan Express, which features children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents.

Place banned children's books in adult section, don't pulp: Yaacob
Two online petitions have been launched, calling for the NLB to reinstate two children’s books, which had been removed earlier

Singapore's Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said on Friday that he instructed the National Library Board (NLB) to place two children's books it earlier banned in the adult section instead of pulping them as initially planned.

In a Facebook post on Friday morning, in which he shared his responses to queries from the Straits Times, he reiterated, "We stand by NLB’s decision to remove the three books from the children’s section. As I said earlier, NLB has to decide what books should be made readily available to children, who are usually unsupervised, in the children’s section of our public libraries. NLB will continue to ensure that books in the children’s section are age-appropriate. We have a much wider range of books in the adult section of public libraries."

Earlier, local media reported the NLB's refusal to reinstate the three banned children's books it had taken off the shelves - two banned recently and one some time ago.

Two removed children's books will go into adult section at library
Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has instructed the National Library Board to place two controversial children's books, And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express, in its adult section, instead of pulping them. -- ST FILE PHOTO

Three removed books were the subject of intense debate over the past week: 'And Tango Makes Three', 'The White Swan Express', and 'Who's In My Family?'. Their withdrawal from the library came to light last week when a Facebook user, Mr Teo Kai Loon, posted a note in an open Facebook group saying NLB had taken out the first two books following his complaint. The Straits Times found out that 'Who's In My Family' was also removed earlier.

'And Tango Makes Three' is based on the true story of a pair of male penguins who raise a chick together; 'The White Swan Express' features adoptive parents such as a lesbian couple; and 'Who's In My Family' highlights different family structures and includes same-sex parents.

The minister said the latter had already been disposed of as the title had been reviewed earlier.
"But I have instructed NLB not to pulp the two other titles, but instead to place them in the adult section of the public libraries."

Singapore Provokes Outrage by Pulping Kids’ Books About Gay Families
A toddler plays with bubbles during the Pink Dot parade at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014

The Singapore government has ordered the National Library Board (NLB) to remove from library shelves and destroy three children’s books that portray gay, lesbian or unconventional families.

The multi-award winning And Tango Makes Three recounts the real life-inspired story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The other two banned titles are The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, which features a lesbian couple, and Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families, which describes unconventional parental set-ups.

The move has resulted in a torrent of opposition in mainstream and social media, the latter largely via the #FreeMyLibrary hashtag. An open letter criticizing the ban has also received more than 4,000 signatures.


In a (partial) victory for the international LGBT community and free speech-lovers everywhere, the Singapore National Public Library has backtracked on its prior decision to remove three pro-LGBT children’s books from its shelves. The books — And Tango Makes Three, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, and Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families — were labelled as not “pro-family,” and were scheduled to be destroyed in accordance the library’s policy on withdrawn books. But, perhaps due to international public outcry, it seems that they won’t be following through with the decision after all. So, hooray!

Of course, the victory is not a total victory. One of the books, Who’s in My Family, had already been destroyed before the decision was reversed. And although Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express will be returning to the library’s shelves, they will not be in the children’s section. Instead, patrons can find them filed with the adult books. But at least they won’t be pulped.

Obviously, this decision is better than going ahead with the original plan, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. Children’s books don’t suddenly become too mature for children when a non-traditional family is involved. There’s nothing about non-traditional families that should upset children, and acting as though there would be is an insult to children raised in families that don’t fit society’s idea of normal. And yet there persists, it seems, this idea that the simple presence of a same-sex couple is somehow inherently sexual in a way that heterosexual couples aren’t.

Singapore withdraws gay penguin book from libraries

Singapore authorities have withdrawn from libraries two children's books featuring same-sex couples, sparking controversy amid a debate on gay rights in the conservative city-state.

And Tango Makes Three features a pair of gay penguins while The White Swan Express mentions a lesbian couple.

Petitions for the books to be put back have garnered thousands of signatures.

For the NLB to reinstate the books and take views of the wider population into consideration

On 8 July 2014, the National Library Borad (NLB) responded to an email complaint by a concerned member of the public, Teo Kai Loon.

A member of the anti-LGBTI Facebook group - We are Against Pinkdot in Singapore, Teo Kai Loon had found two children's books And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express to contain homosexual content that he felt would be a corrupting influence on the young in Singapore as it did not contain "pro-family" values.

The NLB withdrew these books from circulation upon receiving his feedback.

NLB to create 'more transparent review processes'
National Library Board CEO Elaine Ng. Photo: Kevin Kwang

The National Library Board (NLB) will move the children's titles that have been the subject of recent controversy to the adult's section, and plans to create "more transparent review processes" for its books, CEO Elaine Ng said on Friday (July 18). The announcement follows instructions from Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim to reinstate the books in a separate section.

On public outcry that the NLB had said the books - "And Tango Makes Three" and "The White Swan Express" - will be pulped, Mrs Ng said the library had no intention at all of denigrating books. "Pulping is a technical term used in the book industry to describe the recycling of printed materials. We do not want to be viewed as destroying books that are in good condition, as it was never our intention to denigrate books," said Ms Ng.

"Many objected to the idea that books will be pulped. As book lovers ourselves, we understand the reaction. We do not want to be viewed as destroying books."

NLB provokes mixed response by moving controversial children's books to adult section
A mother reading one of the three banned books, And Tango Makes Three, during the Let’s Read Together event, a reading event held in response to the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to pulp the titles. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

The National Library Board's (NLB) decision to move two children's books with references to same-sex couples into the adult section - instead of pulping them - has drawn mixed reactions.

Architect and single mother Ms Jaxe Pan, 29, called it a "fair compromise", adding: "I am going to tell my daughter proudly that no matter how small you are, in size or numbers, you always have a voice in your country."

She had earlier attracted more than 7,000 Facebook 'shares' by posting a photo of herself and her daughter, along with a message to Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim. It said: "Single families are real, so are adopted families, blended families, gay men and lesbian women. It's okay that you do not like us, but please do not remove our stories and pretend we do not exist."

Latest move by NLB welcomed - and criticised
And Tango Makes Three is one of two titles the library will keep. A third title was pulped earlier. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Critics of an earlier decision by the National Library Board (NLB) to remove two controversial children's titles have generally welcomed its move to keep the books but shift them to the adult section instead.

Nanyang Technological University student Lim Jialiang, 23, who started an online petition last week with writer Ng Yi-sheng, 33, and PhD student Liyan Chen, 31, against the removal, called the latest NLB decision a "reasonable move of compromise". "It is a reaffirmation of our secular, shared space," he added.

NLB said yesterday that it would reinstate And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins raising a chick, as well as The White Swan Express, about two female partners adopting a baby, in the adult section. The NLB's withdrawal of the titles for not being "pro-family" had sparked a chorus of criticisms since it was first reported about a week ago.

A 'challenge' for NLB to balance various interests: Amy Khor
More than 200 children at the Hong Kah North Reading Carnival read stories from the Mustard Seed series by award-winning local writer Emily Lim (with her back to the camera), setting a Singapore record. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

It will be "challenging" for the National Library Board (NLB) to review its handling of controversial children's books given the "many different views", said Dr Amy Khor, chairman of the Government's feedback unit Reach, yesterday.

She told reporters on the sidelines of the Hong Kah North Reading Carnival: "It will be challenging... You need to come up with fair and reasonable guidelines that will strike a balance among the different interests."

Her comments came a day after the NLB had promised to review its internal processes following a public outcry over its decision to dispose of three children's titles on complaints that these were not "pro-family".

Three judges for Singapore Literature Prize resign over NLB's move to destroy books

Three judges - T. Sasitharan, Romen Bose and Robin Hemley - of this year's Singapore Literature Prize (Non-fiction Category), have resigned, following the National Library Board's (NLB) decision to remove and destroy several children's books in its collection because they contain homosexual themes.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the three said they could not, in good conscience, continue as judges, given the close links and associations between the National Book Development Council, which awards the prizes, and the library board.

The statement said: "We condemn in the strongest terms NLB's decision to remove and destroy these books, given that it is responsible for the dissemination of information rather than its destruction. The fact that the board has not even considered restricting access to the publications but has moved directly to pulping them is very disconcerting."

read more

NLB 'saddened by' reaction over its removal of three books with homosexuality themes, says chief executive
National Library Board chief Elaine Ng said the information about the withdrawals could have been communicated better. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The National Library Board did not anticipate the widespread dismay that greeted news that it had removed three children's books following complaints about their homosexual themes, chief executive Elaine Ng said yesterday.

She told The Sunday Times in an interview that she was saddened that several local writers have withdrawn from library-related events in protest. "I'm saddened by their disappointment in us. I would like to engage those who have worked with us for a long time and hope they will accept our outstretched hands in future," she said.

But the NLB is not changing its decision to keep the three books off the shelves. They will not be resold or donated as usually happens with discarded books, because of concern that they might be unsuitable for young children

MP Hri Kumar disagrees with NLB decision to withdraw children's titles
Books pulled from National Library shelves (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

Mr Hri Kumar, Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, has weighed in on the debate over the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to withdraw three children’s titles from its collection because they did not adhere to traditional notions of family, and community norms.

In a Facebook post titled "Pulp Friction" on Wednesday evening (July 16), he said he has no argument with NLB vetting books for public consumption, but says he does not believe homosexuality "falls in the category of issues which should be excluded". He says NLB's response could have been to place the books in a separate section, where children can access them under adult supervision.

"Excluding such books, or worse, destroying them, sends an altogether different and confusing message about the role of the NLB," he wrote.


JC student’s tongue-in-cheek letter to NLB

As a Singaporean youth, I applaud your momentous decision to remove three books from the children’s section to protect the delicate minds of young children. To this end, I would like to submit a few other suggestions of books to be pulled off the shelves to prevent them from further poisoning children’s minds.

Firstly, the countless classic fairy tales which generations upon generations of children have enjoyed. Notably: 1) Snow White, which promotes violence and superficial fixation on external beauty. 2) Sleeping Beauty, which pushes forth the idea of a typical damsel in distress where the heroine does absolutely nothing useful at all and has to wait for a handsome prince to rescue her. 3) The Three Little Pigs, which promotes destruction of property, as well as violent murder in the form of the wolf’s gruesome demise.

Secondly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes stories. In the same light as the already removed books, the Sherlock Holmes series has blatant LGBT undertones by actually having two male bachelors sharing a flat together, sending a signal to children that they are in a relationship. In line with the removed books, this is clearly not something children’s delicate minds are ready for and I wholeheartedly recommend their immediate removal.

Who’s in My Family?: All About Our Families

I saw this book at the public library in Lemon Grove on Thursday when I was there with my kindergartener. I flipped through it and knew I just had to read it to my daughter, Makenna. For as long as she can remember, Makenna has had two different homes. She lives with her mommy most of the time, but lives with her daddy every other weekend. She recently started asking why her mommy and daddy don’t live together.

This book, Who’s in My Family, does a wonderful job writing about how families can look many different ways. Some families have a mother and father and children, some have two mommies, some have two daddies, and some just have one mommy or daddy. It also talks about extended families, families of mixed race, and families with adopted and foster children.

The beautiful thing about this book is that it sends the strong message, that even though families can APPEAR different, they all have LOVE in common.

Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families

Trusted New York Times best-selling author Robie H. Harris continues her series for preschoolers with a look at the many kinds of families that make up our world.

Join Nellie and Gus and their family — plus all manner of other families — for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home.

Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal — and totally wonderful.

Who's in My Family?: All About Our Families

Investigating Different Views on Family. – Harris and Westcott do a commendable job including and honoring diverse definitions and understandings of what families are and what they do together. However, a substantial number of people believe in stricter definitions of families and may therefore disagree with the themes and representations in this picture book.

Rather than ignore or refute that dissent, engage your students in a thoughtful inquiry about why people hold different definitions and views on families. Where and from whom did they learn those definitions? Why are they held valuable? Could there be other acceptable definitions, or perhaps circumstances that would allow for different definitions to be accepted?

What happens when different people hold different values and definitions about families? What can be done to help us reach common ground and understanding? This is a tricky matter, but one that can be successfully explored in primary grades. For help learning how to carry on such conversations with young children, see the professional articles and books on critical literacy instruction by teacher educators including Jerome Harste, Vivian Vasquez, Stephanie Jones, and Maria Souto-Manning.