Mar 1, 2007

Why The Arts Cannot Flourish in Singapore

ST Feb 28, 2007
Nude art? Not in public area

By Adeline Chia

AN ART gallery has been told it cannot display a 4m-high painting of a nude woman in the public atrium of a government building.

SooBin Art Gallery had wanted to showcase the US$60,000 (S$91,500) oil painting in the atrium of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) building in Hill Street. It is part of an exhibition in the gallery, located in the building's ground floor.

But Mica said that the work can be displayed only in such a way that the public does not have ready access to it.

A Mica spokesman said the painting was not banned. But, as the building's landlord, it had to comply with the Media Development Authority's guidelines.

The guidelines state that nude or erotic artworks 'should not be displayed in venues which are easily accessible to general audiences, including children and youths'. She added that the atrium was a public area and display materials 'should not offend general standards of taste and decency'.

The painting was on display briefly last night during the opening reception for invited guests. But later, it was turned to face the wall. SooBin will show it to interested buyers.

The painting shows a model, covered in soap suds against a black backdrop, with a parrot flying over her head.

It is the centrepiece of a month-long exhibition by Beijing artist Chen Xi, 38. There are four other nudes among the 29 works on show in the gallery.

The artist told The Straits Times last night: 'The painting celebrates independence and freedom. It is a wholesome message that carries no sexual connotations.'

Gallery owner Chua Soo Bin, 76, said he cannot display the work in his shop as the ceiling is too low, and is disappointed the authorities would not give permission. But Mr T.J. Lim, 60, a photographer who was passing by, said: 'Older people may be uncomfortable with it as this is a woman without clothes. It might not be good for children passing by as it may affect their studies.'

That last bit - "it may affect their studies" - is really hilarious. Okay, folks, get ready, Mr Wang is now going to affect your studies. Enjoy:


lee hsien tau said...

Don't forget OK Mr Wang, you said to the effect, so TT Durai's criminal case's scope cannot be widened by the DPP - DPP must stick to the straight and narrow - either there is evidence to cheat NKF or there is no evidence; the gold tap, toilet bowl, peanuts, the fact that he accepted liability in the civil suit has nothing to do with the criminal case of corruption, so I'll be watching you eat your words.

~[z][x]~ said...

hahaha yes. how does it affect their studies? Maybe it just goes to show how exam-oriented singaporeans are that when they can find no good reasons to say/do something, they just simply attribute it to "aha! affecting studies!", and are thus justified.

Anonymous said...

beautiful. I loved the way you ended the post. LOL!!!

simplesandra said...

Hey, where's the fig leaf? ;-)

Kelvin Lim said...


I can't study any more! Help...


Anonymous said...

Mr wang boring leh. I read alredi in ST, now I read again leh ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Anonymous said...

now that i "can't study" after looking at your pictures / illustrations, i might as well pen this:

your pictures/illustrations are totally cool~ great job!

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, interesting ending but I must say there is a slight difference between the impact of a female body compared to that of a male body.

So, the ending would have had much more zing if the picture was that of a female.

Anonymous said...

How come his package is so small? Like a chinese's(I'm a typical chinese, so I know what I'm talking about).

Anonymous said...

Nudity bad! Casinos good!

Anonymous said...

"it may affect their studies"

Maybe there's more truth in that statement than we realise.

'Small' penis drives teenager to suicide

Singapore - An 18-year-old student jumped to his death because he was convinced his genitals were too small, a Singapore coroner's report said on Wednesday.

In delivering the verdict of suicide, state Coroner Tan Boon Heng said that the incident highlighted the importance of sex education in and outside schools.

The junior college student's death showed that even intelligent young people can be "victims of misinformation," Tan said.

"The deceased was so tormented by his unfounded (belief in his) inadequacy that it drove him to end his life," the ruling said.

The doctor told him that his penis was normal
The case is being forwarded to the ministry of education.

Sex education in the city-state is delivered as a short series of lessons.

"If parents are aware of their children being tormented... they should seek professional help, lest such tragic deaths should happen again," said the report, published in The Straits Times.

The student, a member of the school volleyball team and described as "cheerful and energetic," jumped from a housing block on March 3.

The youth had confided in his mother in October that he was worried that his private parts were too small.

She took him to a clinic, where the doctor told him that his penis was a normal size for an Asian man and prescribed multi-vitamins.

The son told his mother in January that his life was "boring and meaningless" and that the only thing stopping him from suicide was his family's love.

Despite strong emotional support from his girlfriend, he remained convinced that he had a problem. His sister sent him a text message on March 3 asking if he was coming home for dinner.

He replied that he would eat out. The next and final message she received told her and their mother to take care.

In a suicide note, he apologised to his girlfriend and family for killing himself.

He said it was not due to the stress of his exams, "but it was more about his physical development. ... He still knew there was something wrong with his body parts," the investigation report said.

Anonymous said...

If that 18-year-old student had had a chance to visit Mr Wang's blog and see Michelangelo's David's package, he .... might not have killed himself.

richart said...

Anonymous said... i might as well pen this.

I suspect anonymous' pen is punning.

Anyway, great job Mr Wang! Thanks for a good laugh.

geriatric_eunuch said...

Ah yes, indeedy. Recall that this polical party immediately banned Rolf Harris's song 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport' when they first gained power. Seems it was 'yellow culture' and the innocent Singaporean had to be protected from the imagined obscenity in its lyrics.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose...

Anonymous said...

actually, anecdoctal evidence indicates that singaporeans aren't very good at distinguishing, discriminating and appreciating art.

culturally it is a BAAAAAAD thing to become a painter, sculptor, theatre, drama, photographer, musician- shit associated with the arts.

we are throwing away heaps and heaps of money on shit like the esplanade that bleeds in the red year after year... and fawn over foreign artists whilst suppression our own singers, actors, musicians, artists... its sad... so so sad...

add strict government regulation when it comes to plays, videography (Martin see anyone?), art, photography, and other "public performances" - its no wonder our arts industry will NEVER flourish in Singapore.

a hallmark of a great City or Civilisation is its achievements in Art. Ancient China, Ancient India and the art during their golden ages, Cambodia with Angkor Wat, Vienna with Classical Music, Los Angeles with Hollywood, New York City with Broadway, Music, Visual Arts.

We can't just build something that attempts to resemble the sydney opera house and throw the doors out to travelling performers... and dump our own local artistes into the small rooms, run down theatres and screw them over and over again. Its nowonder everyone I know who has a passion for arts, music and so on have already left the country.

Just look at how the SAF treats IKE, white horse special treatment is ok, but world class local musicianship is not. Nowonder even Melvin Tan had to run away from this country. Imagine if he could travel the world singing our praises - that we might not just be seen as a country that bans gum, canes vandals and hangs druggies - but something MORE than that.

Singapore has the potential to do so well as an arts city. If and only If those ultra-conservatives in power actually knew that they were killing the industry, not helping it.

Denzuko1 said...

I think it affects the students' study by inspiring them to become artist drawing nude pictures.

Either that it affects their studies by telling them that once they are successful when they (assuming they are male) complete their studies, this would be one of the women that they are going to get in life.

blueheeler said...

Do these older, conservative people (ministers included) know what kids can get up to on the internet? I bet you that most kids would look at nude paintings and turn away because they are nothing compared to internet porn... Come one man, conservaive S'poreans....wake up and smell the porn!

Thomas Lee said...

If this happened in humorless LTA or IRAS, I would understand.. but MICA??!! Somebody need to go talk to Dr Lee!!!

Anonymous said...

of the size queens:
Legend has it that the penis on Michelangelo's David was originally
supposed to be larger, but after an accidental slip of the chisel
chopped it off, Michelangelo had to fashion a new organ from the
remaining marble. While this is an amusing story, it has no historical
basis. Michelangelo, like many Renaissance artists, sculpted in the classical style, which mimicked ancient Greco-Roman sculpture. Since the ancient Greeks viewed large genitals as comical and bestial, they typically depicted heroic figures with very small equipment. Many Roman sculptors followed this tradition, and Michelangelo followed the
examples set by the Greeks and Romans.

Here is a quote from sexual theorist Camille Paglia on the subject:

"Most of the world has probably always esteemed a large penis, except for Ancient Greece. I think that was an exception to the rule. In Greece, there was a period of interest in proportion -- they were
working out the ideal proportions of the human body... Roman statues
were in the style of Greek nudes, and nudes that survived from the
Greco-Roman period always had small penises. In art, the penis has
often been extremely small, imitating the Classical Greek style. "

Anonymous said...

art students have been gazing on too many penises and breast, hence they cannot study well, hence, arts cannot flourish in singapore

btw: the statue is 5.17 meter tall. so that little thing" daivd has is much bigger then some of you guys out there :P

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, you might be interested how the govt is attempting to promote the arts abroad.

Anonymous said...

Er, how do gynaecologists get to become doctors if seeing that part affects their studies?

I mean that there is A LOT of that female part to see during their school days, both theory and hands-on.

You mean that a female student seeing that female part will affect her studies. As for the boys, it cannot be sure but they probably have seen more realistic stuff...

Sometimes, it make you wonder if there is a dictionary of "politically correct" excuses, reasons, replies, answers, acknowledgements or some hare brains come out of this kind of phrases during their lunch time conversations.

Anonymous said...

alright already, we know you're the kind of enlightened parent who doesn't mind if ur kids' primary school/ kindergarten were to sport David statues at every bend.

simplesandra said...

What's a nude painting compared to the smut we get from some foul-mouthed midget on national TV?

Gauguin, bad. Xiaxue, good. ;-)

anon wrote: "alright already, we know you're the kind of enlightened parent who doesn't mind if ur kids' primary school/ kindergarten were to sport David statues at every bend. "

And that you're the kind of puritan parent who doesn't feel compelled to educated your children on what art is, and what isn't art?

Harry said...

Did any of you guys watch the pre-parade belly dancers at the Chingay 2007 on the 24th? Believe you me, there were lots of flesh and jiggling parts barely (pun intended) concealed in translucent veils. Also significant was the turnout of VVIPs seldom seen at the parade - sitting directly in front of the nubile sex sirens were SR Nathan (as usual) Goh Chok Tong, Lee Kuan Yew, AND Lee Hsien Yang. Guess it's one set of standards for the peasants and another for those guys.

lee hsien tau said...

"sitting directly in front of the nubile sex sirens were SR Nathan (as usual) Goh Chok Tong, Lee Kuan Yew, AND Lee Hsien Yang. Guess it's one set of standards for the peasants and another for those guys"

So you know how many of their dicks went hard?

Bystander said...

We cannot hide from the fact that the majority of the population are still very conservative even though how "westernised" people think we are .

Anonymous said...

Let's not kid ourselves!!!
May I ask our leaders how does one define "conservative" ? Contrary to what our leaders are telling us, do we really belong to a conservative society what with the available amount of sex, smut & sin happening nowadays.

Based on my observation , many Singaporeans including many uncles & aunties are indulging in extra-marital affairs or sexual flings with the sexually deprived & lonely ones, the sexually active males frequently visit Geylang, massage palours, etc or seek very young prostitutes in neighbouring countries while a lot of our teens are now experiencing sex at a early age.

So everytime when our leaders comes out to defend themselves for any objectionable content by giving the excuse that we are a conservative society, please do consider whether you are just trying to kid ourselves by telling us such a big lie!!!!

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, our older generation are very conservative indeed. Heheh. Why don't you read this Straits Times article:

Sunday Times, March 12, 2006
Mistress island
Welcome to Pulau Amat Belanda, second home to many Singapore men who visit their 'weekend wives' there

By Arlina Arshad
THERE is an island near Batam that receives, almost exclusively, male Singaporean visitors.

When the men get off the boat, they pay 25,000 rupiah (about $5) to register with the security men. Their passports are checked, and details such as their names, IC numbers and Singapore addresses noted.

Then they head to the homes of their 'weekend wives', rooms rented in stilted wooden houses ...

For full article, click here.

And don't be so foolish as to believe the myth that "the East is so sexually conservative and the West is so sexually wild".

The Philippines are very, very accepting of homosexuality; Thailand is an international sex destination; the Japanese truly enjoy their sex games (the kinky "love hotels" are a unique Japanese speciality); and the most famous sex instruction manual in human history is Indian in origin; the world record for having the most lovers is held by a Chinese emperor. Etc etc.

simplesandra said...

For the Japanese, it isn't just their love hotels but also risque variety shows, manga and anime, and even computer games. :-)

Anonymous said...

Most conservatives are really just hypocrites.

kenneth said...

mr wang, i'd like to contact you via email to ask for some advice regarding our local universities as i am going to apply for entry soon. please let me know if you'll be able to help me and, if so, how i can contact you.

p.s. sorry for posting in comments. i couldn't find your email address anywhere on the blog.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I wouldn't be the best person to advise you, because it's been many years since I graduated and I'm sure the universities have changed a lot since then.

Why don't you post your questions here anyway, and see if any of my readers have comments / feedback. If this turns out to be interesting, I may make a new post out of it, and invite more readers to share their views on the current state of the local universities.

whybegay said...

The Arts is not just about nudism, therefore your post title is generalising. Crazy Horse has shut down, does that mean the Arts scene in Singapore will suffer?

You are committing the same broken logic as the old people who think students cannot study if they are distracted by nudity.

Seeing nudity could affect a person's concentration at a point in time and perhaps when he thinks of nudity while is is studying.

So nudity is just a distraction as many things else, there are many distractions to one's study besides nudity.

I guess the old person meant that seeing nudity might corrupt a person's innocence. But he is thinking small and talking small about modernised people.

But if people like him can't even explain what they mean properly, they should just shut up and go improve their english and vocabulary before talking nonsense to the local media. Otherwise it would only make them look stupid and senseless to modernised people.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Seeing nudity could affect a person's concentration at a point in time and perhaps when he thinks of nudity while is is studying."

Sure. While studying, he could also think of dinner; TV; coffee; friends; world peace; his pet dog; and your blog. All these would also be distractions to studying.

kenneth said...

Thanks mr wang. Well, I basically wanted to ask you for your opinion on pursuing a degree in business admin(finance). I've heard many differing opinions about it. Some people say a degree in business admin(finance) is a very general degree in the sense that you wont need such a degree to actually start a business or run it smoothly. I'm looking to go into investment in derivates like options or other things along this line.

My questions are
a)do you feel that a degree in business admin(finance) is really a "general" degree?
b)do you feel that the finance sector will become overpopulated in 6-7years time?
c)which of the local Universities offer the most suited finance course to what i am looking to study
d)any other advice you'd like to dispense.

thanks for your help in advance! =)

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yes I think that the Bizad degree is quite general. If you're interested in going into IB and the area of derivatives, what investment banks usually want are graduates with a strong quantitative background - that is, good with maths. They don't really care whether you do engineering, or maths, or physics whatever ... but basically they want somebody who's comfortable with maths.

To get an idea of what these banks are looking for, I suggest you visit the websites of banks like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse etc which are the hardcore players in the field that you're interested in. Check out their requirements for their management associate programs.

I'm not saying that they won't ever hire a Bizad grad - I am saying that they have a preference for grads with a strong quantitative background, and Bizad grads don't really fit that bill.

On supply & demand, my gut feel is that private banking will become overpopulated. Where you want to be is higher up the value chain - for instance, instead of being the private banking guy who sells derivative products to private banking customers, you want to be the guy who sells derivative products to private banks which then on-sell the products to the private banking customer.

Finally, to get into an IB, you have to be reasonably outstanding all round. It can also be quite a demanding kind of work culture - it's really not for everyone. If you're a delicate soul, you're better off joining the civil service.


I know some investment bankers read my blog, heheh. Please do chip in.

kenneth said...

Thanks for your honest opinion mr wang. But how does one become the person who sells to the banks?

In JC i studied double maths, economics and physics. So up till this point i think i'm on the right track. The thing is, i've more or less decided to major in finance for a few years now so its abit difficult to change my thinking. SMU actually offers a major on quantitative finance apart from its finance major. I might be looking to take a double major then after hearing what you have to say. I might also minor in maths if i go to NUS just to back up a bizAd degree if i eventually decide to take it.
Another reason i'm still rather resistant to taking engineering, physics or maths is that they are more abstract and less applicabe to what i want to do in the future. Since i'm looking to venture into this line, i feel studying the subject directly would be the best option. For example, i believe that that the finance course covers derivatves and the various strategies to apply to differnt market situations. I probably wont learn the same thing reading maths.

Lastly, some people actually suggest taking accountancy instead of finance since it is less general(or so they say). Do you think that studying accountancy will be a wise option?

Again, thank you for your help =)

Just another FT said...

Hi Kenneth, there's no real study course that prepares for a job in investment banking.

As Mr Wang says, there tend to be alot of science (engineering, math, physics) grads in the derivative structuring side of the business, because they have the familiarity with models and applied math concepts, but there really isn't a fixed criteria.

Interviewers are looking for outstanding academics, and strong social skills. But they expect to have to train you pretty much from scratch anyway, so the actual field of study doesn't matter that much.

The process in one fairly typical IB works as follows: graduate intake comes in from all academic disciplines and enters a 12 month rotation programme. Rotations cover the major centres (Singapore, HK, London, Tokyo, NY) and are intended to give the business and candidate an opportunity to size each other up. At the end of the programme the candidate has to apply to a couple of desks for a job. If you have impressed, you have a job. If not, you don't, but can probably land something in a different firm.

Good luck. It's tough, and very competitive. I think the best thing to do is pick something you like, that interests you. That way you will probably excel.

kenneth said...

Hi just another ft.

Thanks for your help. It has given me a better idea of what i plan to jump into. I had no idea it would be that tough. Thus far, my interest seems to be in this line of work. I hope it will be enough to help me get through all the training.

Mr Wang Says So said...


Don't worry. You've just finished your A-levels, right. Lots of things that "just another FT" mentioned may sound intimidating to you right now, but after you've finished university, they may not sound that intimidating.

Remember - 4 years is a long time to grow. 4 years ago, you were just finishing up your secondary two.

Think big!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kenneth,

I was talking to my friends who are doing graduate finance courses in the US. They told me that the best bachelor's degree when one goes into the financial world is actually a Math degree.

Good luck with your studies.

Anonymous said...

eee... so small

kenneth said...

Hi all! Once again i'd like to thank you all for your advice. I actually have 5-6years to go before i graduate since i still have NS =) I'll keep everything you all said in mind when making my decision of choosing a course.

To Mr Wang: Thanks for letting me post here and gather up some info. If you do chance upon anything that you want to share about the finanical world, do blog about it. I'll be reading often, as i have been. =)

Just another FT said...

Hi Kenneth, I've always thought it's easier to do well in something you like. So maybe the best thing to do is take the courses you are most interested in, try your hardest, and trust that it will turn out for the better. (I'm assuming you don't major in Nordic Basket Weaving or something like that!)

It's hard to get in direct from school, but there are other ways into the industry than the graduate programs. Just do your best, and when the time comes, it will all come naturally.

Also, remember to have fun.

kenneth said...

thanks again just another ft. i'll heed that advice =)

reeneho said...

oh! I'm glad I'm no longer studying. If not my grades will drop and then i will no longer be able to typ properli. orways use sms lang. cunt sp3ll animor.

I will not be one of those who can tell others to get out of my "elite uncaring face". I will be one of those who have to work longer and unable to retire.