A Singapore cabinet minister on Friday opposed the local launch of an international dating service promoting adultery following a public outcry in the conservative city-state.
Website Ashley Madison, which facilitates “married dating, discreet encounters and extramarital affairs”, is planning a Singapore launch next year, local media has reported, sparking a Facebook petition that has drawn over 12,000 supporters so far.
The Canada-based website, which boasts more than 20 million users and is notorious for its slogan “Life is short. Have an affair”, has been aggressively expanding in Asia, with recent launches in Japan, India and Hong Kong.
“I do not welcome such a website into Singapore. I’m against any company or website that harms marriage,” Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s minister for social and family development, said in a Facebook post on Friday.
“Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage,” he said in the post, which he said was in response to reports of the planned Singapore launch.
“Our marriage vows make it clear that marriage is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. This includes staying faithful to one another.”
More than 12,000 people have clicked “Like” on the Facebook page “Block Ashley Madison – Singapore” since it was launched on Wednesday.
The page states that it is a “petition that aims to gather sound-minded people to express our objection to the establishment of the shameless company – Ashley Madison, that thrives on shattered marriages, in Singapore”.
Facebook user Joelle Kong wrote on the site that “we need to send a message to the international business community that while we are happy to have foreign investors build businesses here, companies that promote such anti-family values are not welcome here”.
Another supporter of the protest page, Jason Ho, wrote that he had personal reasons to oppose adultery.
“I was a victim myself when my father started having extramarital affairs. It was nothing but hell and tears for the rest of the family members,” he wrote.
“It’s time to stand up together and get rid of the rubbish that Ashley Madison is promoting.”
In baby-short Singapore, government-supported dating services encourage couples to marry earlier and have more children in order to reverse the country’s low birth rate.
Singapore’s population recorded its slowest pace of growth in nine years in the 12 months to June, according to government statistics because of the low birth rates and curbs on immigration.
Including foreigners, Singapore has a population of 5.4 million.
The highly Westernised city-state has long been perceived as a prudish society, but that image has evolved in recent years thanks to changing social norms, growing affluence and a large influx of tourists and expatriates.
The government and church groups, however, continue to promote conservative values, and a law making it a crime for men to have sex with each others remains in the books despite growing public acceptance of gay and lesbian lifestyles.