Minister Desmond Lee indicates police may take action against ‘sugar daddies’ and ‘sugar babies’

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee confirmed in Parliament today that the police will keep a “close eye” on dating platforms such as TheSugarBook and indicated that the police may take enforcement action under the Women’s Charter against website users who procure sexual services for payments.

Responding to questions by parliamentarians Seah Kian Peng and Tin Pei Ling, Lee revealed that enforcement action may extend against the website and its owners, as well.

Money-for-love online dating platforms like TheSugarBook link ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘sugar mummies’ who are willing to provide funds to ‘sugar babies’ – men or women who are showered with gifts in exchange for love, companionship, and sexual services.

Malaysian-based TheSugarBook, in particular, created a stir in Singapore and prompted discussion in parliament after it claimed that about 30,000 members of its 95,000-member network are in Singapore.

Speaking in Parliament, Lee condemned such websites as platforms that “commoditise and devalue relationships under the cover of a mutually beneficial arrangement”. He opined that relationships become transactional in such arrangements where money and gifts are provided in exchange for companionship and “other” services.

The Minister added that the greater concern is that the website targets young people in their late teens and early 20s, such as students at polytechnics or universities:

“Not only do such sites encourage them to demean their own sense of self-worth, they also expose them to the risk of being exploited and abused. These transactions are fundamentally imbalanced, in favour of older and wealthier people.”

While excoriating such relationships, Lee noted that a “right balance” must be struck between people having the freedom to make moral choices and the government acting as a regulator to curb such sites in a bid to protect the people from being at risk of exploitation or abuse.

The Minister also noted that simply blocking or banning the site may not be the most enduring way to protect the people, recalling the Media Development Authority (MDA) ban of extra-marital dating site Ashley Madison in 2013:

“MDA acted decisively to ban the site, because it explicitly advocated, through its portal, extramarital affairs and infidelity…That ran right up against our core values on protecting the family, so we acted decisively there.
“But the online realm is very broad, and there are many aspects that are very troubling. Blocking and banning every such site isn’t the most enduring way to protect Singaporeans from such risks.”

The Minister explained that while the people “collectively object” to such websites, the more effective and enduring solution would be to increase young people’s awareness of such dangers, so that they may be more discerning when navigating the internet.

This can be achieved at the school level and through parenting. Lee highlighted that students in MOE schools are taught to establish boundaries for personal safety, discern risks and exercise sound judgement when it comes to relationships and online activity. He added:

“At the same time, parents play a critical role in guiding their children and helping them to stay away from undesirable online content.
“At the end of the day, while we recognise that these websites undermine families and society, our best defence is for society, communities and our families to reinforce values that anchor us so that we do not succumb to such influences.”

34 COMMENTS

  1. I am not sure why the government is always taking on itself the role of “moral policeman”. Whilst I agree that prostitution is a moral & ethical issue, the “sugar daddy & sugar baby” arrangement may not be.

  2. If Gahmen-sanctioned prostitution is not illegal, why should sugar daddy/sugar baby arrangements be? Maybe they want to also ‘sanction’ such arrangements so as to take a cut from the sugar daddies.

  3. Is there evangelical influence in this government? What are the police going to charge these sugar daddies and sugar babes? Contrary to the good conduct of the republic of singapore?

  4. Waaa….EVERYTHING also want to kaypo, what people do in their own live also wanna control. What kind of control freak is this? Overloaded with religious madness mentality or what? Knn.

  5. They bark at the wrong tree. Real problems cannot be solved and now try to kaypoh on this minor issues that does not really affect our bread and butter issue. What a hypocrites??

  6. Wahaha…we paid millions to curb sugars daddies n babies…. really uniquely Spore. Maybe no licence la…need curb. If pay licence…can ok liao

  7. Aey ! U don’t CB here ! Everything also Kuan but the real thing need to Kuan , u not Kuan!! Better u Kuan people within your white termite gang members stealing ppl wife ! In public domain ….no need web based site to have sugar daddy-babies happenings….it is a normal trait in society !! a cultural thing …….rich old cow eat young grass is a norm since memorial time ….the 2 MPs git nothing better to discuss in law maker house urh !? nahbeh !

  8. Sugar daddies must now file employer cpf for their sugar babies. Subsequently, sugar babies must now contribute 20% of their earnings to cpf and 50¢ to cdac. They are also subjected to taxing. Lol

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