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National Youth Council under fire for plagiarism of programme concept and its poor facilitation

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By Phyllis Lee

Singapore’s National Youth Council (NYC) was accused of plagiarising Drama Box, a non-profit contemporary Chinese language theatre company, over the former’s programme titled ‘For Your Consideration’ held last Monday (4 September).

The public engagement programme had emulated the concept behind Drama Box’s interactive play, ‘The Lesson’, held in July.

‘For Your Consideration’ took on a similar structure and approach as ‘The Lesson’, getting the audience to participate in a group decision-making discussion based on a given scenario.

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Last Wednesday (6 August), Chief Executive Officer of NYC David Chua posted an apology to Drama Box on his Facebook account.

Whilst the apology was accepted by Drama Box’s artistic director Kok Heng Leun, he also said that NYC’s programme only perpetuated the discrimination of different groups in Singapore.

The programme put youth participants into a scenario where only three out of four families would be given a space in a new estate due to the lack of space. The families are:

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1. Farah – Single parent with 2 kids

2. Grace – Single but married with same sex partner overseas, returned to SG with the hope of adopting a child and starting a family here

3. Ah Biao – Single Elderly

4. Janice – Just married without kids; just graduated and started working

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The audience had to come to a consensus to choose one of the four families to be voted out.

Interestingly, these participants had quite a lot to say about their experiences. Ms Serene Ho replied to Mr Chua’s apology post, saying that she felt unsafe when she expressed her “differing opinion that a homosexual couple does not form a family unit”.

She claimed that she was booed at, and that the event was overrun by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists.

Netizen Leo Hee Khian, whose friends had participated in the programme, said that its set-up was poorly designed. He argued that most participants only wanted to voice their own opinions, turning a deaf ear to those who opposed them.

On the other hand, freelance journalist and activist Kirsten Han, who also attended the event, said that the dialogue was civil and free for all to give their own input.

Participant Hum Qing Ze agreed, saying that everyone had an opportunity to speak. He concluded that such dialogue is necessary for societal discourse, and that the facilitation of similar programmes will eventually improve. 

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