Malaysia, Singapore up in arms over 'sex blog'

Malaysia, Singapore up in arms over 'sex blog'

Malaysia, Singapore up in arms over 'sex blog'

Posted 13 November 2012, 8:18 AEDT

A Malaysian couple have been the subject of public outrage in their home country and neighbouring Singapore after their "sex blog" went viral.

Alvin Tan, 24, and Vivian Lee, 23, say they created the blog of erotic photography and videos called Sumptuous Erotica for a small group of friends and to build a following "way away from Asia".

The website went viral after a link to it was posted in an online Singaporean forum.

Mr Tan says the publicity surrounding the blog increased after the media "jumped on it".

His girlfriend says the couple "were not seeking attention, but it was the attention that found [them]".

Mr Tan and Ms Lee have since been the subject of backlash from local media and politicians for allegedly being "exhibitionists" and not respecting Asian culture.

Politician Dr Wee Ka Siong, who is also the chief of the Malaysian Chinese Association Youth, has condemned the couple, telling local media "[Malaysians] are not that advanced or daring".

In Singapore, Mr Tan has been chastised for not practising behaviour appropriate of a scholarship holder at the country's top university, the National University of Singapore.

But Mr Tan has told the ABC the couple are ignoring the criticism and have the support of a "substantial minority".

"On the other hand, we have a lot of people who talk about things from a moral perspective - they talk about shame; they talk about hurting and harming our families, they talk about humiliating the country and the race...they talk about me being an ungrateful scholar," he said.

"[There's] a lot of hot air obviously, you know, calling for us to be even killed.

"[They say] we're so shameful that we don't deserve to live".

Malaysia's Minister of Information, Communications and Culture, Dr Rais Yatim, says while there is legal redress to prosecute the couple, he is reluctant to do it.

Mr Tan says they are "glad" authorities have not taken legal action.

"[They] said they are reluctant to take action on us because of our youth and they didn't want to ruin our future, they didn't want to legally destroy our future," he said.

Mr Tan says the couple have yet to hear directly from authorities on "any side of the causeway".

But local media are now reporting Malaysian police have begun a probe into the couple's case to investigate if their blog violates laws by being "obscene" or otherwise against public decency.


No apology

Malaysian and Singaporean media outlets have maintained constant coverage of the couple since news of the scandal became public.

One reader has written to a Malaysian news site expressing his disgust at the nature of the coverage, saying a "total of 17 articles" had been published on the couple in one paper over one weekend alone.

Mr Tan says he is not surprised by the negative articles being written about the couple.

"I think the Asian media tries to mimic or reflect general public reaction and I would expect them to sensationalise it as well," he said.

"Because when sex or morality is concerned, I think the local media in Singapore and Malaysia tends to struggle to keep an objective, balanced view."

Dr Julian Lee, Melbourne-based author of Policing Sexuality: Sex, Society and the State, says issues relating to sexuality have been "very much a part of" Malaysian mainstream media and press since the nation's former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, was first charged with sodomy in 1998.

"There has often been a lot of furore," he said.

"I guess the level of attention that this has received is perfectly predictable."

One common theme in recent coverage has been the lack of repentance Mr Tan and Ms Lee have shown for publishing their sex blog.

Mr Tan believes this has riled large sections of the Malaysian public

"I think the public generally likes to bully recalcitrant people into making a public apology or conforming with the majority's view and that tends to appease them," he said.

"But we don't intend to make a public apology because we've never done anything wrong to the public- we simply held different views from them".

Dr Lee says a "critical eye" needs to be given to the level of "outrage" being expressed by the press as well.

"What the 'outrage' enables the media to do is to keep the story in the newspapers and allow people to engage with it while maintaining for themselves an air of moral superiority and righteousness," he said.