Singapore seeks to change boring image

 
  Associated Press
March 11, 2003
SINGAPORE


STRAIGHT-LACED Singapore is urging its young people to figure out what turns them on and help the government make the city-state less boring, a lawmaker said Tuesday, March 11.

``I do not believe it is possible to be creative if you do not know how to enjoy yourself,'' said Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of State for National Development, as he urged youth to take part in a government-organized street festival.

``We need to reach deep inside ourselves to find out what turns us on,'' said Balakrishnan, chairman of the government-appointed ``Remaking Singapore'' committee - a panel tasked with getting public feedback on how to make Singaporeans more lively and artistic.

This wealthy, tightly controlled Southeast Asian island nation is trying to purge itself of its staid image and become a regional arts and media center.

Authorities hope this will help the country's flagging economy as it faces rising competition from other Asian countries in its staple industry, high-tech manufacturing.

``Some people feel that Singapore is a boring place. We need to correct this, because boredom is very corrosive to the human spirit,'' added Balakrishnan.

Among the events scheduled for the June street festival are graffiti, street wear and inline-skating contests.

Singapore is widely known for its tight controls on media. Cosmopolitan magazine and HBO's television hit ``Sex in the City'' are banned, along with home satellite TV antennae and even some popular songs deemed too racy.

In recent years, officials have taken small steps to spice up the nightlife, such as allowing some explicit language in plays.

The government may soon allow bar-top dancing and let nightspots stay open 24 hours, instead of closing at 3 am as currently required.

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