BANGKOK – Singapore’s law minister on Tuesday clarified in a post on social media that his recent statement in Parliament on hate speech, where he cited popular songs by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande as being offensive, did not mean he was proposing a ban on such songs.
On Monday, K Shanmugam had cited the lyrics of songs by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande as examples of offensive language in a statement on hate speech to the parliament.
A copy of the statement titled “Restricting Hate Speech to Maintain Racial and Religious Harmony in Singapore,” was posted on Facebook by opposition lawmaker Chen Show Mao on Monday evening.
The examples in the statement had included “I’m just a Holy fool, oh baby/ it’s so cruel, but I’m still in love with Judas,” from the song “Judas” by Lady Gaga, excerpts from the songs “God is a woman” by Ariana Grande, “Heresy” by the group Nine Inch Nails, and “Take me to church” by Hozier.
In a Facebook post, the law minister said that Chen Show Mao’s post was misleading and “people who did not listen to the speech may misunderstand that the list contains songs which have been banned or are going to be banned. All of that is untrue.”
“I made the point that people may find many things offensive. And gave the list as an illustration,” he added.
“Doesn’t mean that it can all get banned, just because some people find it offensive. That is also a point I made in the speech,” he stressed.
The law minister’s statement had come almost a month after the authorities of the city-state had canceled a concert by the Swedish black metal band Watin at the last minute due to complaints by Christian groups, who found the group “deeply offensive and denigrating.
The statement had also coincided with the presentation in the Singapore Parliament of a bill against fake news, which has been criticized by human rights organizations as an instrument of censorship and a threat to freedom of expression.
Singapore, one of the most prosperous countries in the world, has been criticized on numerous occasions for its tight control of public and private media.
Many Singaporeans use the Internet to find independent information, although digital media, including blogs, are restricted by strict laws.
In 2018, Singapore was ranked 151st out of 180 countries in the press freedom index by nonprofit Reporters Without Borders, behind countries such as Afghanistan, Russia and Myanmar.