“We could not, in good conscience, continue as judges”

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Those were the exact words from the three judges of this year’s Singapore Literature Prize (non-fiction category).

They have all resigned, in response to the National Library Board’s decision to pulp three children’s books.

A joint statement from the trio was released today.

They said that “they could not, in good conscience, continue as judges given the close links and associations between the National Book Development Council, which awards the prizes, and the library board.”

“We condemn in the strongest terms NLB’s decision to remove and destroy these books, given that it is responsible for the dissemination of information rather than its destruction. The fact that the board has not even considered restricting access to the publications but has moved directly to pulping them is very disconcerting,” said the statement.

The judges were not the first to openly denounce NLB’s decision.

Just a few days ago, playwright and novelist Ovidia Yu had decided to resign from the steering committee of the Singapore Writers Festival, a joint production with the NLB.

Writers Gwee Li Sui, Adrian Tan, Prem Anand and Felix Cheong had also called off their panel, “Humour Is Serious Business”, which was originally scheduled to take place at the Central Public Library on July 13.

Gwee had also pulled out from the National Schools Literature Festival on July 12, an event involving about 80 secondary schools and the NLB.

As tensions over the book ban escalate by the day, and as different groups in society continue to debate ever more vociferously about the morality of NLB’s controversial decision, one question remains: will we see more people standing out in protest of the book ban?