Saying no to adultery website

EDITORIAL

PIMPING up a business for some is about breaking taboos unabashedly, for example, by declaring itself "the most famous name in infidelity and married dating", as networking website Ashley Madison does.

To add to a right-thinking person's discomfort, such infamy can gain publicity without even trying. Every decrier sees to that. Perversely, the company wears any mention of its name in established media like a badge of recognition on its home page.

True to form, it might well do the same here - by brashly citing local publication covers and a Facebook campaign against it - should it proceed with plans to form a website here.

The company's chief, Mr Noel Biderman, not only makes no apology for its in-your-face business model but also has the gall to tell a Singapore newspaper that being unfaithful to a spouse is "a needed relief" and "if you're cheating, it helps you stay in the marriage".

By the same logic, one would expect Mr Biderman to nod at any fling for personal gain by a trusted associate with a business rival like Rosapurple.com. After all, wouldn't it be helping this key employee to stay committed to Ashley Madison?

Any parting of the ways in the business world, of course, is not nearly as personally devastating as the breakdown of a marriage, especially one with young children. But nothing appears to be sacrosanct to this ambitious Canada-based company which rang up C$63 million (S$74.5 million) in revenue last year.

So, it thinks nothing of an "Affairs Now Guaranteed!" billboard at the Los Angeles International Airport. What might it attempt here?

Public outrage over the possible launch of a Singapore portal prompted Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing to blog that he was "heartened" by the responses as he was against any company or website that harms marriage.

As a bedrock of society, marriage forms the basis of public policy that is reflected in laws, housing rules, taxation, health care, insurance and leave, among others.

Hence, remaining silent is not an option for those who fear an erosion of values if adultery acquires 7-Eleven ubiquity here. There is cause for concern as there were only about four times as many marriages as divorces last year compared to 13 marriages for every divorce in 1980. And adultery is among the top three reasons for divorces, say lawyers.

Some are pressing for the Media Development Authority to block the site if it appears here. Of course, any such ban would be largely symbolic as determined users can find ways to get around it.

Ultimately, it is up to society to show it strongly rejects attempts to commercialise and normalise behaviour that goes against the grain of the majority here.


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