Nudism in Singapore

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Despite the fact that public nudity is illegal in Singapore, people have been appearing naked in public with increasing frequency since 2009. This phenomenon has spawn a lively debate in the press, the broadcast media and on the Internet over whether there should be a space for people to express themselves in the nude in public in Singapore.

Contents

The Miscellaneous Offences Act

It is illegal to appear nude in public, or in private if viewable by passers-by, in Singapore.

This is governed by Chapter 184 of the Singapore Penal Code - the Miscellanous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, specifically Section 27A of Part IV[1]. It states:

"Appearing nude in public or private place

27A. —(1) Any person who appears nude —

(a) in a public place; or

(b) in a private place and is exposed to public view,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both. [12/96]

(2) For the purpose of this section, the reference to a person appearing nude includes a person who is clad in such a manner as to offend against public decency or order. [12/96]

(3) Where an offence under this section is committed in a private place, it shall be lawful for a police officer to enter the private place without the authority of the owner or occupier of the private place to effect the arrest of the offender. [12/96]

(4) In effecting entry under subsection (3), it shall be lawful for a police officer to use such force as may be necessary to enter the private place. [12/96]

Any person may arrest offender

28. It shall be lawful for any person whatsoever to arrest any person found offending against this Part and to deliver him to any police officer."

Background

The law is descended from the Miscellaneous Offences Act of the United Kingdom. It was incorporated into the Indian Penal Code drafted by Lord Thomas McCaulay in the 19th century and transplanted into all of Great Britain's Asian colonies thereafter.

History

With the increasing affluence of the local populace over the past few decades which enabled more people to indulge in worldwide travel and the advent of universal access to the Internet, Singaporeans have been exposed to foreign cultures and practices including not only naturism, especially in Western countries[2], but also the relaxed attitudes towards nudity in Asian nations such as Japan and Korea. They could also visit clothing-optional resorts in nearby Bali[3].

Websites promoting healthy, family-oriented nudism could also be visited without leaving the comfort of one's home:[4].

As such, it is not really surprising that Singaporeans are increasingly challenging the status quo, largely brought about by Victorian values entrenched in the legal system.

Incidents

2008

On Monday, 10 Nov 08, Asia One published an article highlighting the increasing number of Singaporean girls uploading nude photos of themselves to the social networking website, Friendster:[5]. Some of these photos were shot at public places such as HDB stairwells.

2009

On 29 Aug 09, citizen journalists uploaded pictures of a naked, fit-looking young man doing push-ups in a HDB estate to The Straits Times' Stomp subsection:[6].

However, the first widely reported and most talked-about incident of public nudity occurred on 24 Jan 09 when a 24-year old female Singaporean A*Star scholar and doctorate student, walked around Holland Village completely naked for 15 minutes with her male Swedish exchange student friend[7],[8]. Their daring act garnered them the applause of diners in a nearby open-air restaurant. They were charged in court and fined $2,000. Fortunately, the female student was not stripped of her scholarship.

2010

On New Year's Day, 1 Jan 10, a Caucasian man queuing up outside a club took off all his clothes and engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with club security[9]. He was later subdued by the police with a stun gun.

The very same day, a naked Chinese man was spotted walking around desultorily in Sengkang. The report was carried on Stomp and Asia One[10].

On Friday, 22 Jan 10, it was reported on Stomp that two flat dwellers, a man and a woman, just a few units away from each other at Mei Ling Street walked around naked in their flats every evening with their windows open and in full view of their neighbours[11].

On Wednesday, 2 Jun 10, a local reader of an article on nudism by a female Malaysian reporter[12] uploaded a photograph which he shot at Sentosa's Siloso Beach of a tanned Caucasian man talking in the nude to a Chinese Singaporean woman[13].

On Monday, 7 Jun 10, The New Paper reported a young adult Chinese man loitering around the void deck of a block of HDB flats in Hougang in the nude[14].

On Tuesday, 12 Oct 10, Asia One reported that a Chinese woman walked around naked in her HDB flat with the main door open. A 12 year-old Malay boy was running along the corridor playing with two of his friends in front of her unit when the woman came out of the house and grabbed the boy's arm, accusing him of peeping at her[15].

On Monday, 23 Oct 10, the Asia One forum carried a discussion about an elderly Chinese man walking around Chinatown stark naked, looking for items of clothing to cover himself with[16]. The report was first posted on Stomp.

On 21 Nov 10, the Asia One forum carried a discussion about parents from mainland China who let their infant son play at the Bugis Junction fountain in the nude[17]. The story was first reported on Stomp.

On Tuesday, 14 Dec 10, it was reported in The Straits Times that a naked Chinese man walked into a McDonald's outlet in Queenstown at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning and attempted to buy a cup of coffee[18]. An uncensored photograph of the man was also uploaded to Stomp[19] where a lively discussion ensued in the comments section. Razor TV later featured a video segment on the incident[20].

The following day, the 15 Dec 10 issue of The Straits Times reported that more people were going nude in public[21]. In the first 6 months of 2010 alone, 105 police reports were made. Asia One had more details in its version[22], noting that the total number of indecent exposure cases rose from 146 in 2008 and 136 in 2007 to 166 cases in 2009.

On Thursday, 16 Dec 10, Asia One reported that a middle-aged woman boarded a crowded bus in Bedok completely naked[23](see video:[24]). The incident was first reported by the Chinese evening tabloid Lian He Wan Bao.

A discussion topic on whether there should be a nudist colony on Pulau Ubin and how much Singaporeans would pay to join was started on Asia One online forum shortly after[25].

That year, a portly naked man was also spotted walking along Bras Basah Road[26].

2011

On Sunday, 2 Jan 11, Asia One's Diva section reported that more couples in Malaysia and Singapore were opting to pose in their wedding photographs in the nude[27]. The trend of increasing local openness towards nudity had also been mushrooming on the Internet since 2006[28].

On Thursday, 13 Jan 11, Asia One carried a report that an Indian artist from Hyderabad would, for a fee of $250, take a photograph completely nude with visitors to the Art Stage Singapore exhibition held at the Marina Bay Sands[29].

On 24 Feb 11, a man performed a striptease, removing all his clothes, and used the aisle between the seats as a catwalk on bus 170 which departed from Kranji MRT at 10am[30]. The report was first published in Lian He Wan Bao.

On 29 Jun 11, Stomp carried pictures of a naked Indian woman sitting on a ledge outside a block of HDB flats, apparently attempting to commit suicide[31]. The report was first published in the Chinese-language tabloid, Wan Bao.

On Monday, 11 Jul 11, a completely naked man with white paint on his groin boarded a bus at a bus stop along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. He alighted along Paya Lebar Road. The report was carried by Shin Min Daily News and The New Paper[32].

On Friday, 2 Sep 11, The Straits Times' citizen journalism subsection, Stomp, carried pictures of a naked man loitering at the lift landing of a block of HDB flats in Sengkang[33].

On 11 Sep 11, Stomp published photos of a man swimming naked at the Tanamera condo swimming pool in Tanah Merah[34].

On 21 Dec 11, a thin, naked man with long hair was spotted wandering along Siglap at midnight[35].

2012

On 7 May 12, an almost naked woman in her 20s chased after 4 men along Mohamed Sultan Road and then got beaten up by them. She had apparently had her modesty outraged by the group and her belongings stolen[36].

Also in May 2012, a naked man was seen squatting and smoking on a the window ledge outside his high-rise home in front of Manhattan House at Chin Swee Road[37].

In late May 2012, a young girl posted a naked profile pic of herself on Facebook[38]. Profile pics are viewable by all Facebook users. A few days later, she replaced it with a more revealing one[39].

In June 2012, a nudist on Blowing Wind posted the location of a very secluded piece of land at Changi which he claimed was suitable for nude camping:[40].

On 19 Jun 12, a Chinese man, believed to be a cleaner at Somerset MRT station, drank Tiger beer in the cleaners' room facing the skate park, went outside to shower in the open and then apparently passed out lying face down on the empty grass patch opposite the station entrance[41],[42].

On 28 Jun 12, a naked man walked in the middle of the road amidst heavy traffic in broad daylight and subsequently lay supine on the rightmost lane of the road before he was covered with a white sheet by passers-by and carried away by an ambulance[43],[44],[45],[46] (see videos:[47],[48],[49],[50].

In July 2012, a mother let her infant son play naked at Bugis Junction's fountain[51].

Nudity in theatre

"Quills", a play about the life of the Marquis de Sade was staged by theatre company, Luna-id, from 16 to 25 September 2005 at the DBS Arts Centre, home of the Singapore Repertory Theatre. It feature a groundbreaking one hour of full-frontal male nudity by Rehaan Engineer, a Mumbai-born British-trained actor[52].

A performance art event directed by Zai Kuning in the mid-2000s featured both male as well as female full frontal nudity[53].

The play "251" about the life of Annabelle Chong, written by Ng Yi-Sheng and directed by Loretta Chen, was staged by theatre company Toy Factory from 5 to 15 April 2007 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio and featured female topless nudity by actress Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie, who starred as Chong[54],[55],[56].

"Equus", staged by Toy Factory at the National Library's Drama Centre from 25 August to 3 September 2011 featured full-frontal male nudity by Singaporean actor Ethan Chia[57],[58],[59],[60],[61].

On 19 Feb 12 at the Guiness Theatre of The Substation, film director, actor and performance artist, Loo Zihan, re-enacted Josef Ng's 1993 performance art protest entitled "Brother Cane" in which he introduced an innovation not presented in the original, historical event - full frontal nudity[62] (see main article The Josef Ng affair).

Organisations

In 2004, an American expatriate in Singapore named Adrian set up a group called Nudist Nature Walk. Its facilitation was later taken over by a Singaporean named Alan when Adrian relocated to New York[63].

In 2006, a Yahoo!Groups newslist, SgNudClub[[64]], was founded as a further development of Nudist Nature Walk. It provided a forum where members could share their views and organise private gatherings, especially yoga sessions and pot luck dinners. Sex is strictly prohibited during all its events. Nocturnal nude walks in secluded areas at night were also held in the early years of the group's existence.

Several local naturists also set up Facebook pages for nudists in Singapore - Singapore Nudist Society in 2006[65] and SgNaturistFriends in 2010[66].

In September 2010, a Yahoo!Groups newslist for male gay nudists was started:[67].

The so-called Nudism Society of Malaysia[68] has set up an active board on their online forum for Singapore nudists to organise themselves. This is a moderated forum that allows nude photos to be displayed, usually without faces.

Broadcast media reports and public debate

On 29 Dec 10, The Straits Times' Razor TV uploaded an episode which featured a nude calendar of oversized girls[69].

On 18 Jan 11, Channel News Asia telecast an episode entitled "Baring it all" in their BlogTV series. It was hosted by Timothy Go and May Wong who moderated a panel discussion in which two sides presented their arguments for and against having a nudist colony in Singapore[70],[71] in the wake of the recent spate of incidents involving public nudity. (See also BlogTV's trailer[72] , behind-the-scenes footage[73] and bloggers' comments[74]).

The future

Singaporean nudists hope to have designated public spaces such as a stretch of beach where nudity is legal.

They would also like international events such as the World Naked Bike Ride([75],[76],[77]) to be held here.

A loosening up of local attitudes toward public nudity and the repeal of current legislation to allow such activities in circumscribed areas would also have positive spinoffs for the Singapore economy.

External links

  • SgNudClub:[78]
  • ClothesFree.com:[79]
  • World Naked Bike Ride:[80]
  • The world's capital of nudism - Cap d'Adge, France:[81],[82]
  • A profusely illustrated version of this article on PBWorks:[83]
  • Nudism Malaysia: [84]

References

The Miscellaneous Offences Act of the Singapore Penal code on Singapore Statutes Online: [85]