In October 2013, Ashley Madison tried to enter the Singapore market. Even when Mr Chan Chun Sing, then Minister for Social and Family Development, spoke against it, the openly adulterous website pressed on with its intended launch. Finally, thankfully, Ashley Madison was blocked. But was that the end of it?
Back then, I wrote in “Ashley Madison in Singapore: When Even Negative Publicity Is Great Publicity“:
I believe we will see more of Ashley Madison, or the likes of it.
Four years later, the likes of Ashley Madison has surfaced … in TheSugarbook.
Unlike Ashley Madison, TheSugarBook does not openly promote extra-marital affairs, but “a safe and discreet networking environment online”* for rich men seeking young girls, and vice versa. But, like Ashley Madison, it encourages hooking up for all the wrong reasons with absolutely no regard for its consequences.
*Wong Pei Ting: Dodgy messages and brazen requests: My 72 hours on TheSugarBook
One would have expected the government to act as it did in the case of Ashley Madison. However, whilst Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee says that the government “collectively objects” to such sites that “commoditise and devalue” relationships, they are not moving to block it at all. Instead, he says that “[t]he police will ‘keep a close eye’ on money-for-love dating platform The SugarBook as well as the individuals using its services, and will take enforcement action should there be any procurement of sexual services for payment”. Police will keep ‘close eye’ on dating platforms like TheSugarBook: Desmond Lee
It seems that the concern is more about illegal prostitution than it is about fornication, adultery, the demeaning of women, the hurting of young women’s lives, and the destruction of marriages, families and relationships.
My position remains the same as when I commented about the threat of Ashley Madison four years ago:
As Christians, we cannot and must not stay silent for we have been appointed to preserve society as salt and to shine the way of righteousness as light. We must take a stand, and at times, this calls for us to speak up and speak out against such decadent practices. This is not the time for apathy or nonchalance.
At the same time, we must protect our own marriages and families for these are under tremendous attack like never before. We must not presume that things are ok between husband and wife but instead work at strengthening and building the marital relationship. And lest you think children in Christian households are exempted from such negative influences, think again! By the time you realise that theirs is a totally different environment from what we grew up in, it might just be too late. The discipling of our children has taken on a new level of urgency. And as parents, that responsibility is squarely ours (and not the children or youth ministry’s)!
I am thankful and encouraged by those like Darius Lee who engage the public space, speaking up for what is right: Concept of ‘sugar baby’ misogynistic, demeaning towards women
Whilst I understand the reason for not blocking TheSugarDaddy, I cannot say that I agree with it entirely. As far as I am concerned, Ashley Madison and TheSugarDaddy both fall into the same category. Presently, there are more than 20,000 Singapore users (out of 75,000 so far – the target is 200,000 by June 2018). In my opinion, there should not even have been a question at all whether to block it or not.
That said, it is far too easy to expect the government to think and act on our behalf. And should anything go wrong, we just point a finger to blame. To this end, let us must not miss Mr Desmond Lee’s extremely clear signal: “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.”
In other words, the responsibility is squarely ours. Don’t pass the buck. When all is said and done, we make our own decisions and choices. And we must be prepared to live with the consequences of how and what we have chosen.
Sugar daddies have been around for the longest time. This is not a new thing at all. With or without TheSugarBook, these transactional relationships will continue to exist. Yet, however sweet the deal may appear to be, we must be reminded that, more and more, sugar has been identified as a major cause of ill-health, cancers and death. Yes, sugar kills.
And so …
To the young women of Singapore: You are wonderfully made, precious and loved by God the Father. You never ever need to trade your dignity and bodies for romance, attention, fame or money.
To the rich and wealthy men with lots to spare: If you really want to help younger women with financial needs, there are many other ways to do this without making use of their situation to fulfil your fantasies.
To marriages and families: Remain strong and resilient against the threats of the pressures and challenges of today’s world.
And especially to all hubbies and daddies (and that includes me too): Love your wives and daughters.
Say “NO” to TheSugarBook.