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National Library saga highlights "divisive" issues: Amy Khor

The recent National Library saga involving two books which were deemed not pro-family showed that there are still "divisive" issues, said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor.

SINGAPORE: Keeping the two books and moving them to the adult section is "the way forward", said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor.

This will give parents the option to borrow the books and read them to their children.

Dr Khor was at the annual Hong Kah North Reading Carnival on Saturday (July 19), where she also spoke to reporters about the recent National Library saga involving the books which were deemed not pro-family.

The books “And Tango Makes Three” and “The White Swan Express” were withdrawn by the National Library after a complaint that the books, with depictions of same-sex parents, are not pro-family.

Vigorous debate ensued and Dr Khor said this showed that there are still "issues that are divisive and can fracture us."

"We need to be mindful of these issues and it's important to make sure these divisions do not deepen and tear us apart,” said Dr Khor, who is also MP for Hong Kar North.

“To do this, we really need to come together, to discuss this rationally, objectively and to find a common way forward. And even if we cannot find a common ground in that sense, we must disagree agreeably, with mutual respect for people on each side of the argument."

Dr Khor said the move will help appease the various concerns Singaporeans have.

She said: "We do have deep respect in terms of the written word and therefore that will hopefully address and mitigate some of these concerns. It also helps NLB to ensure that the books in the children's section are age appropriate so that the majority of parents are comfortable with their young children browsing around and reading books in the children's section unsupervised."

Dr Khow also lauded NLB's move to make its book review process more transparent, but noted it will be challenging to come up with fair and reasonable guidelines that will strike a balance among different views.

Dr Khor attended the annual carnival which promotes reading as a leisure activity, to nurture a more literate community.

One of the highlights of the carnival was breaking the Singapore record of having the most number of children reading with an adult. More than 200 children participated in this event and they were reading stories from the Mustard Seed Story series. 

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