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NAC says it 'does not have any issues' with launch of Constance Singam's memoir after publisher's statement

NAC says it 'does not have any issues' with launch of Constance Singam's memoir after publisher's statement

Cover of Constance Singam's memoir Where I Was. (Photo: Facebook/Ethos Books)

SINGAPORE: The National Arts Council (NAC) said on Thursday (Mar 10) that it "does not have any issues" with the launch of a re-print of activist Constance Singam's memoir Where I Was.

It comes after publisher Ethos Books posted on Facebook on Wednesday, saying that the organisers of the Singapore Literature Book Bazaar had told the publisher that they were unable to host the launch.

The bazaar, organised by the Singapore Book Publishers Association and funded by the NAC, had initially included the launch in the bazaar's programme line-up, said Ethos Books, adding that the synopsis of the book was provided to the organisers.

A civil society activist, Ms Singam has led women’s organisations including AWARE and the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations. Her memoir was published in 2013.

The publisher said it received a request from the NAC on Feb 25 to review the manuscript. The bazaar's organisers told Ethos Book less than a week later that it would not be able to hold the launch, said the publisher.

"Later, we understood that this was because the book contents did not comply with funding guidelines of NAC nor the Arts House. Since this decision was communicated to us only last week, we had to swiftly find an alternative venue, which thankfully, we have," said the Facebook post from Ethos Books.

In response to CNA's queries, an NAC spokesperson said it does not have any issues with the launch of the book, noting that the book was first published and launched in 2013, and has been in circulation in Singapore. It is also available in public libraries.

"When NAC was informed that it was not possible to hold the launch event at The Arts House, NAC reached out to the publisher to offer support in finding an alternative location. 

"An officer of NAC and a representative of Ethos were in discussion over this issue," said the spokesperson, adding that an alternative venue has been found at 10 Square.

NAC confirmed that Ethos Books had applied to launch a re-print of the book at this year’s bazaar and that the publisher had also subsequently applied to hold the book launch at the Arts House as a separate event, but at the same venue as the bazaar.

The spokesperson said the council has supported the bazaar in its last two editions.

"As in all of NAC’s programme partnerships or commissions, the event organisers would assess how best to meet its programme objectives and also decide on the participants," added the NAC spokesperson.

CNA has approached the Arts House for comment.

Source: CNA/vl(mi)


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