Singapore stops foreigners from singing complaints

SINGAPORE Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:20pm GMT

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A choir that planned to sing a list of complaints about life in Singapore cancelled its performances after the city-state banned its foreign members from singing, organizers said on Saturday.

The 60-member "complaints choir", a concept that originated from two Finnish artists, was scheduled to perform at a weekend festival but authorities granted a performance license on the condition that the foreigners would not participate.

"Our conductor is Malaysian, so how could the choir go ahead without him?" said Melissa Lim, the festival organizer.

Singapore's Media Development Authority said the license was conditional because the lyrics touched on "domestic affairs" and it preferred only Singaporeans take part.

Some of the complaints that would have been sung included, "when a pregnant lady gets on the train, everyone pretends to sleep" and "when I'm hungry at the food court, I see people (reserve) seats with tissue paper".

Singapore, which faces a low birth rate and a graying population, has turned increasingly to immigrants to boost its work force. It aims to add another 2 million people to the island's 4.7 million people over the next 40 to 50 years.

The city-state is frequently criticized by human rights groups for its restrictions on expression and the media.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Michael Winfrey)

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