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Despite the fact that public nudity is illegal in Singapore, people have been appearing naked in public with increasing frequency since 2009. This phenomenon has spawned a lively debate in the press, the broadcast media and on the Internet over whether there should be a space for people to express themselves in the nude in public in Singapore.

The Miscellaneous Offences Act

It is illegal to appear nude in public, or in private if viewable by passers-by, in Singapore.

This is governed by Chapter 184 of the Singapore Penal Code - the Miscellanous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, specifically Section 27A of Part IV[1],[2]. It came into effect on 27 February 1996 and states:

"Appearing nude in public or private place

27A. —(1) Any person who appears nude —

(a) in a public place; or

(b) in a private place and is exposed to public view,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both. [12/96]

(2) For the purpose of this section, the reference to a person appearing nude includes a person who is clad in such a manner as to offend against public decency or order. [12/96]

(3) Where an offence under this section is committed in a private place, it shall be lawful for a police officer to enter the private place without the authority of the owner or occupier of the private place to effect the arrest of the offender. [12/96]

(4) In effecting entry under subsection (3), it shall be lawful for a police officer to use such force as may be necessary to enter the private place. [12/96]

Any person may arrest offender

28. It shall be lawful for any person whatsoever to arrest any person found offending against this Part and to deliver him to any police officer."

Background

The Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (CHAPTER 184) was enacted by the British colonial authorities in 1906[3].

Section 27A or the anti-nudity law was introduced under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) (Amendment) Act 1996 (No. 12 of 1996)[4][5].

Prior to the enactment of Section 27A in 1996, being nude in a public space per se, if it was not intentionally done to offend anyone, eg. in a secluded area with no passers-by, was not specifically illegal. This remains the situation in other former British colonies where public nudity is not an offence unless the act of being naked is done with the intention of offending someone.

Under Malaysia's secular laws it is technically not illegal to be nude in public[6]. There is no specific mention of nudism being illegal as well. The Laws of Malaysia, Act 336 (Minor Offences Act of 1955) Clause 28e states it is an offence only for:

Exposure of person with intent

(e) every person wilfully, openly, lewdly and obscenely exposing his person with intent to insult any other person;

Therefore, being nude in Malaysia is only an offence if one purposely, openly, lewdly, obscenely and intentionally displays one's genitals (or one's nude state) to others with an intention to insult them.

In Singapore, however, this situation changed in 1996 when parliament introduced Section 27A to the Miscellaneous Offences Act, which in addition to criminalising public nudity, also made it illegal to be naked in private venues like one's own home, if visible to people on the outside. Furthermore, a police officer has the right to enter the offender's home without the person's authorisation and use force, if necessary, to arrest him or her. The reading of this new law generated a relatively heated debate in parliament, with the then Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Walter Woon opposing the inclusion of the clause which criminalised nudity in a "private place"[7].

The first person to be charged under Section 27A was taxi driver Chua Hock Hin in August 2009. He was fined $2,600 for being naked in his own flat in clear view of his neighbours[8].

History

With the increasing affluence of the local populace over the past few decades which enabled more people to indulge in worldwide travel and the advent of universal access to the Internet, Singaporeans have been exposed to foreign cultures and practices including not only naturism, especially in Western countries[9], but also the relaxed attitudes towards nudity in Asian nations such as Japan and Korea. They could also visit clothing-optional resorts in nearby Bali[10].

Websites promoting healthy, family-oriented nudism could also be visited without leaving the comfort of one's home[11].

As such, it is not really surprising that Singaporeans are increasingly challenging the status quo, largely brought about by Victorian values entrenched in the legal system.

Incidents

2008

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On Monday, 10 Nov 08, Asia One published an article highlighting the increasing number of Singaporean girls uploading nude photos of themselves to the social networking website, Friendster:[12]. Some of these photos were shot at public places such as HDB stairwells.

2009

On 29 August 2009, citizen journalists uploaded pictures of a naked, fit-looking young man doing push-ups in a HDB estate to The Straits Times' Stomp subsection:[13].
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However, the first widely reported and most talked-about incident of public nudity occurred on 24 January 2009 when a 24-year old female Singaporean A*Star scholar and doctorate student, walked around Holland Village completely naked for 15 minutes with her male Swedish exchange student friend[14],[15].

Their daring act garnered them the applause of diners in a nearby open-air restaurant. They were charged in court and fined $2,000. Fortunately, the female student was not stripped of her scholarship.

2010

On New Year's Day, 1 January 2010, a Caucasian man queuing up outside a club took off all his clothes and engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with club security[16]. He was later subdued by the police with a stun gun.

The very same day, a naked Chinese man was spotted walking around desultorily in Sengkang. The report was carried on Stomp and Asia One[17].

On Friday, 22 January 2010, it was reported on Stomp that two flat dwellers, a man and a woman, just a few units away from each other at Mei Ling Street walked around naked in their flats every evening with their windows open and in full view of their neighbours[18].

On Wednesday, 2 June 2010, a local reader of an article on nudism by a female Malaysian reporter[19] uploaded a photograph which he shot at Sentosa's Siloso Beach of a tanned Caucasian man talking in the nude to a Chinese Singaporean woman[20].

On Monday, 7 June 2010, The New Paper reported a young adult Chinese man loitering around the void deck of a block of HDB flats in Hougang in the nude[21].
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On Tuesday, 12 October 2010, Asia One reported that a Chinese woman walked around naked in her HDB flat with the main door open. A 12 year-old Malay boy was running along the corridor playing with two of his friends in front of her unit when the woman came out of the house and grabbed the boy's arm, accusing him of peeping at her[22].

On Monday, 23 October 2010, the Asia One forum carried a discussion about an elderly Chinese man walking around Chinatown stark naked, looking for items of clothing to cover himself with[23]. The report was first posted on Stomp.

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On 21 November 2010, the Asia One forum carried a discussion about parents from mainland China who let their infant son play at the Bugis Junction fountain in the nude[24]. The story was first reported on Stomp.

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On Tuesday, 14 December 2010, it was reported in The Straits Times that a naked Chinese man walked into a McDonald's outlet in Queenstown at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning and attempted to buy a cup of coffee[25]. An uncensored photograph of the man was also uploaded to Stomp[26] where a lively discussion ensued in the comments section. Razor TV later featured a video segment on the incident[27].

The following day, the 15 December 2010 issue of The Straits Times reported that more people were going nude in public[28]. In the first 6 months of 2010 alone, 105 police reports were made. Asia One had more details in its version[29], noting that the total number of indecent exposure cases rose from 146 in 2008 and 136 in 2007 to 166 cases in 2009.
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On Thursday, 16 December 2010, Asia One reported that a middle-aged woman boarded a crowded bus in Bedok completely naked[30]. The incident was first reported by the Chinese evening tabloid Lian He Wan Bao.

A discussion topic on whether there should be a nudist colony on Pulau Ubin and how much Singaporeans would pay to join was started on Asia One online forum shortly after[31].

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That year, a portly naked man was also spotted walking along Bras Basah Road[32].

2011

On Sunday, 2 January 2011, Asia One's Diva section reported that more couples in Malaysia and Singapore were opting to pose in their wedding photographs in the nude[33]. The trend of increasing local openness towards nudity had also been mushrooming on the Internet since 2006[34].

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On Thursday, 13 January 2011, Asia One carried a report that an Indian artist from Hyderabad would, for a fee of $250, take a photograph completely nude with visitors to the Art Stage Singapore exhibition held at the Marina Bay Sands[35].
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On 24 February 2011, a man performed a striptease, removing all his clothes, and used the aisle between the seats as a catwalk on bus 170 which departed from Kranji MRT at 10am[36].

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The report was first published in Lianhe Wanbao.

On 29 June 2011, Stomp carried pictures of a naked Indian woman sitting on a ledge outside a block of HDB flats, apparently attempting to commit suicide[37].

The report was first published in the Chinese-language tabloid, Wan Bao.

On Monday, 11 July 2011, a completely naked man with white paint on his groin boarded a bus at a bus stop along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3. He alighted along Paya Lebar Road. The report was carried by Shin Min Daily News and The New Paper[38].

On Friday, 2 Sepember 2011, The Straits Times' citizen journalism subsection, Stomp, carried pictures of a naked man loitering at the lift landing of a block of HDB flats in Sengkang[39].

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On 11 Sepember 2011, Stomp published photos of a man swimming naked at the Tanamera condo swimming pool in Tanah Merah[40].

On 21 December 2011, a thin, naked man with long hair was spotted wandering along Siglap at midnight[41].

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In December 2011, it was reported in the Asia One forum that a teenage girl uploaded a teen boy's nude photo on Facebook and shared it on her wall. It subsequently went viral. The photo depicted the boy fully nude and taking a photo of himself with his mobile phone in what appears to be his bedroom. The girl had insisted on sharing the photo despite protests from her friends. She was even said to be pleased with the attention and increased number of "friend requests" after she uploaded the photo. Scolding those who protested against the photo, she insisted that she was only sharing it because "people share I share".

2012

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In April 2012, it was reported in the Asia One forum that artistic photos, allegedly of model Eileen Yumiko, were shot at St. John's Island by Mike S photography[42].

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On 7 May 12, an almost naked woman in her 20s chased after 4 men along Mohamed Sultan Road and then got beaten up by them. She had apparently had her modesty outraged by the group and her belongings stolen[43].

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Also in May 2012, a naked man was seen squatting and smoking on a the window ledge outside his high-rise home in front of Manhattan House at Chin Swee Road[44].

In late May 2012, a young girl posted a naked profile pic of herself on Facebook[45]. Profile pics are viewable by all Facebook users. A few days later, she replaced it with a more revealing one[46].
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In June 2012, a nudist on Blowing Wind posted the location of a very secluded piece of land at Changi which he claimed was suitable for nude camping:[47].

On 19 June 2012, a Chinese man, believed to be a cleaner at Somerset MRT station, drank Tiger beer in the cleaners' room facing the skate park, went outside to shower in the open and then apparently passed out lying face down on the empty grass patch opposite the station entrance[48],[49].

On 28 June 2012, a naked man walked in the middle of the road amidst heavy traffic in broad daylight and subsequently lay supine on the rightmost lane of the road before he was covered with a white sheet by passers-by and carried away by an ambulance[50],[51],[52],[53] (see videos:[54],[55],[56],[57].
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In July 2012, a mother let her infant son play naked at Bugis Junction's fountain[58].

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On 7 August 2012, it was reported in The New Paper that a 23-year old man took to stripping to pay for his grandmother's cancer treatment[59]. He said matter-of-factly that "It's just a job to pay for my university fees, my sister's tuition fees and to help my parents with the household bills.". His father was a part-time renovation contractor and his mother worked as a seamstress in a textile shop.

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On 4 October 2012, a STOMP reader was forced to jam on his car's brakes to avoid crashing into a vehicle along Bedok Reservoir Road after a naked man ran out onto the road. Soon after, the man was pinned down by a group of pursuing police officers. He recalled, "I witnessed a dramatic scene on the road in front of Block 136 Bedok Reservoir Road at around 2.26pm. I was forced to E-brake because the car in front of me braked suddenly to avoid knocking into a naked man who dashed out suddenly. After that, a group of men in black clothes and police officers were seen pinning the naked man down in the middle of the road. He was later shifted to the grass patch in front of the block and covered with some clothing."

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In November 2012, a Chinese man in his 40s walked around near the giant globe at Universal Studio's entrance at Sentosa after taking off his clothes[60]. Some passers-by whipped out cameras or cellphones to snap pictures and he proudly raised his arms to pose according to evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News. One eyewitness, who was there with his family, told the tabloid: "The man was smiling widely and did not seem embarrassed at all."

In December 2012, artist-photographer Geraldine Kang's new project entitled "In the Raw" featured frank photographs of her and her family partially in the nude[61].

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In December 2013, several Chinese newspapers reported that a woman had been posing nude in front of several landmarks in Singapore. 30 or so of the woman's pictures had surfaced on the Internet, showing her in various states of undress with her face masked. Some showed her exposed private parts, while others showed her making seductive gestures at the camera. Several locations in Singapore, including the National Orchid Garden and the riverside could be seen in the backgrounds of the photos.

2013

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On 14 February 2013, it was reported in The New Paper that more local couples were approaching professional photographers to have nude shots of themselves taken[62],[63]. At least one professional photographer had been approached by couples to take photos of them while they were having sex. The photographer, Kelvin Lim, told the tabloid that 8 couples had asked him to do so. The 41-year-old, who had been in the business for 11 years, worked from a studio in the Lentor area. He specialised in nude and sensual photography. "Yes, it is a sex shoot but it's not pornography," he said of his erotic portfolio.

On 16 February 2013, a STOMPer named Andrew spotted a naked man walking near a hawker centre along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at night[64]. He said, " A naked man was walking along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 last night between 11.15pm to 11.30pm. There were lots of people eating at the hawker centre nearby and staring at him. The man was just walking around calmly and drinking water. He hung around for 10 to 15 minutes, then crossed the road and disappeared."

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On 26 February 2013, The New Paper reported that an agitated man in Bukit Panjang stripped naked in public, one piece of clothing at a time, and caused a commotion[65]. A passing policeman saw him and told him to get dressed, but the man refused and charged at the officer. He even threw a punch at the policeman’s face, which the officer evaded. When the officer threatened the man with a Taser gun, he still continued to be agitated until two more officers helped to arrest him.

In March 2013, sociology students from the National University of Singapore undertook the first local study on nudism. They sent the following letter to several members of SgNudClub[66]:

"Dear Sir,

We are students from the National University of Singapore, majoring in Sociology. We are doing a research paper on subcultures in Singapore and we are interested in finding more about the topic of Nudism. We found your contact through the SGNudClub from yahoogroups.

We are interested in finding out what nudism stands for, be it making a social statement or any other reasons. If you're comfortable with sharing your thoughts on this topic, we would appreciate it if you could answer some of our questions (listed below).

All responses will remain anonymous and it will be strictly confidential. We would gladly appreciate it if you could reply by 9th March, Saturday night.

Thank you for taking time to read this. We hope to hear from you soon!

Beverly and Jessica

National University of Singapore

Questions

1. What made you want to join SGNudClub?

2. What did you expect to gain from joining SGNudClub?

3. What are your thoughts about nudism?

4. What makes you want to engage in nudism (with yourself/others)?

5. How do you think nudists are seen by society?

6. Particulars - Age - Nationality - Sex"

In July 2013, it was reported in the Asia One forum that a woman was arrested after she boarded a bus totally naked[67]. Passengers were stunned to see the nude woman. She reportedly boarded Service No 76 at 9.25am this morning from a Block 641, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 bus stop. Witnesses said she was expressionless when boarding the bus. She even tapped her EZ-Link card. "There was about 20 passengers on the bus, including a couple with a 3-year-old child. Everyone was stunned and did not know what to do. Some tried to avoid looking at her," a witness said. The woman then went to the back of the bus and sat down quietly. She then alighted at the next stop with other passengers, transferring to Bus Service 269 with them. The witness then called the police and told them the direction which the bus was heading in. The police said a 40-year-old Chinese woman was arrested.

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On 22 July 2013, The New Paper reported that on the morning of 28 June 2013, 23-year old part-time model Kendrick Lim was about to be unveiled to the press as one of the contestants for Manhunt Singapore 2013. However, he did not turn up at the press conference that day because he was shaken by a nude photo, alleged to be of himself, that was delivered to his letterbox in an unmarked white envelope[68]. He was also perturbed that his mother, a housewife in her 40s, had seen the photo. The person who sent it called herself "Miss M Ng", and claimed she had received the photo from Lim in the midst of a raunchy chat in which the latter called her "hot", asked about her "skills" and boasted about his own.

In July 2013, it was reported in the Asia One forum that two men were captured on video walking into some bushes at Tampines and then stripping completely naked[69].

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2014

On Thursday, 13 March 2014, a man boarded a southbound train at Bukit Batok station on the North-South Line, and began to undress during the journey until he was completely naked[70],[71],[72],[73]. A netizen, who posted a photo of the man online, wrote that the man "started to strip bare naked and started playing with his genitals" at Yishun station. The man decided to lie down on the floor after that. An SMRT spokesman said a passenger activated the emergency communication button at Yishun station at 6.54pm, and SMRT staff boarded the train at Khatib at 6.56pm to take the man away. He was handed over to the police for further investigation and arrested the following day.

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On Tuesday, 18 March 2014, The New Paper published an article which reported that 5 young women said they had no qualms about taking nude selfies and sharing them with their boyfriends[74]. They said “it’s not always obscene” and are not worried about leaks or the potential of blackmail. “If you are pretty, and have the assets, I don’t see why you cannot flaunt it,” said a 19-year-old student who wanted to be known only as Cloud and who took full-body nude selfies.

The most significant event in Singapore and Malaysia's nudist history occurred on 31 May 2014 when a Malaysian living in Singapore organised the "Penang Nude Sports Games 2014", a whole-day nudist sports event held at a secluded beach in Teluk Bahang in Penang National Park. Male and female naturists from Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar took part and the organiser produced a video to commemorate the occasion[75]:

Pesta Bogel Teluk Bahang Pulau Pinang 2014


It was unfortunate that the video caused an uproar amongst the prudish Malaysian public and resulted in the prosecution of most of the participants even though on the day of the event, nobody saw them engaging in their healthy, non-sexual naturist activities.

In the aftermath of the event and the intense public discussion it engendered, The Straits Times on 26 August 2014 published a comprehensive article entitled, "No sex, please, we are nudists", about the state of nudism in Singapore[76].

On Thursday, 29 May 2014, threesixty magazine posted on their Facebook page, a video of a naked Chinese man clinging on to a motorcycle rider in front of Central at night. To get him to let go, the motorcyclist hit him on the head and kicked him in the buttocks after which the naked man ran a short distance before walking calmly to the side of the road[77].

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On 3 June 2014, a woman named Mary posted a photo to the Asia One forum of a drunken man with his pants pulled down lying on the floor of an HDB void deck at Block 270, Yishun Street 22[78]. Her 5-year old daughter also saw the man. She called the police who arrived shortly and escorted the man away.

Nudity in theatre

"Quills", a play about the life of the Marquis de Sade was staged by theatre company, Luna-id, from 16 to 25 September 2005 at the DBS Arts Centre, home of the Singapore Repertory Theatre. It featured a groundbreaking one hour of full-frontal male nudity by Rehaan Engineer, a Mumbai-born British-trained actor[79].
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A performance art event directed by Zai Kuning in the mid-2000s featured both male as well as female full frontal nudity[80].

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The play "251" about the life of Annabelle Chong, written by Ng Yi-Sheng and directed by Loretta Chen, was staged by theatre company Toy Factory from 5 to 15 April 2007 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio and featured female topless nudity by actress Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie, who starred as Chong[81],[82],[83].

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"Equus", staged by Toy Factory at the National Library's Drama Centre from 25 August to 3 September 2011 featured full-frontal male nudity by Singaporean actor Ethan Chia[84],[85],[86],[87],[88].

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On 19 February 2012 at the Guiness Theatre of The Substation, film director, actor and performance artist, Loo Zihan, re-enacted Josef Ng's 1993 performance art protest entitled "Brother Cane" in which he introduced an innovation not presented in the original, historical event - full frontal nudity[89] (see main article: The Josef Ng affair).

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On Saturday and Sunday, 17 and 18 August 2013, theatre practitioner and dancer Vincent Chia staged a performance incorporating nudity towards the end of the one-hour show at the dance studio on the second level of The Substation. It was an abstract depiction of the performer's life entitled "My Sentimental World". The event was advertised on Facebook[90] and subsequently, also on other websites.

Organisations

In 2004, an American expatriate in Singapore named Adrian set up a group called Nudist Nature Walk. Its facilitation was later taken over by a Singaporean named Alan when Adrian relocated to New York[91].

In 2006, a Yahoo!Groups news list, SgNudClub[[92]], was founded as a further development of Nudist Nature Walk. It provided a forum where members could share their views and organise private gatherings, especially yoga sessions and pot luck dinners. Sex is strictly prohibited during all its events. Nocturnal nude walks in secluded areas at night were also held in the early years of the group's existence. It is currently being moderated and managed by Albert Yam.

Several local naturists also set up Facebook pages for nudists in Singapore - Singapore Nudist Society in 2006[93] and SgNaturistFriends in 2010[94].

In September 2010, a Yahoo!Groups news list for male gay nudists, Singapore gay nudists, was started[95].

Broadcast media reports and public debate

On 29 Dec 10, The Straits Times' Razor TV uploaded an episode which featured a nude calendar of oversized girls[96].

On 18 Jan 11, Channel News Asia telecast an episode entitled "Baring it all" in their BlogTV series. It was hosted by Timothy Go and May Wong who moderated a panel discussion in which two sides presented their arguments for and against having a nudist colony in Singapore in the wake of the recent spate of incidents involving public nudity[97],[98].

Blog TV discussion on public nudity in Singapore (Part 1 of 2)
Blog TV discussion on public nudity in Singapore (Part 2 of 2)


  • See also BlogTV's trailer[99]:
Trailer for Blog TV's "Baring it all"


behind-the-scenes footage[100]:

Behind the scenes of Blog TV's "Baring it all"


and bloggers' comments[101]).

The future

Singaporean nudists hope to have designated public spaces such as a stretch of beach where nudity is legal.

They would also like international events such as the World Naked Bike Ride([102],[103],[104]) to be held here.

A loosening up of local attitudes toward public nudity and the repeal of current legislation to allow such activities in circumscribed areas would also have positive spinoffs for the Singapore economy.

Singapore nudist groups

See also

External links

  • Naturist holidays in Asia:[114].
  • Naturist resorts in Thailand:[115].
  • ClothesFree.com:[116]
  • World Naked Bike Ride:[117]
  • The world's capital of nudism - Cap d'Adge, France:[118],[119]

References

The Miscellaneous Offences Act of the Singapore Penal code on Singapore Statutes Online: [120]

Further reading

  • Aw Cheng Wei, "No sex, please, we are nudists", The Straits Times, 26 August 2014[121].
  • Sam Ho, "Nudism in Singapore", Sam's thoughts, Thinking better thinking meta, Blogspot, 22 April 2009:[122].
  • Discussion on SgForums entitled "Can Singaporeans allow a naturist/nudist environment" started on 16 April 2001:[123].
  • Vanessa Thor, "5 little-known laws of Singapore", The Straits Times, 14 April 2014[124].
  • GlobalSchoolNet.org archives, "English-educated middle-class would have failed us: SM", The Straits Times, 9 June 1996[125].
  • Nudist articles on All Singapore Stuff (ASS)[126].

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