A publisher here is recalling a Chinese textbook for Primary 2 pupils over an image of a bloody pentagram in the book.
The pentagram, which has been associated with Satanism and the occult, was used to depict the word “shapes” in both Chinese and English.
A user on the Reddit forums posted about the offending image in the book on Thursday (April 28).
AsiaOne reported on Friday that Marlinsons, which published the book, has apologised for the image, claiming it was not aware that the symbol was linked to Satanism.
“We decided to recall our existing stock as we agree that it is highly inappropriate,” the spokesman told AsiaOne.
The book is part of the Hua Long Dian Jing series, which has a dragon as the teaching mascot.
It retails for $14.80 online, and is described as suitable for students of both Higher Chinese and normal Chinese.
On the cover, it says that its content is based on the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) syllabus.
The Straits Times understands that the book is not on the MOE’s list of approved textbooks.
ST was able to purchase a copy of the book, which was first printed in 2016 and had a second print run in 2020. The 139-page book featured common words and phrases in both Chinese and English accompanied by images.
Among them were an image of a penguin in jeans for the word “pants” and another of a bald man sipping from a wine glass for the word “try”.
Marlinsons’ Facebook page was taken down on Friday evening. It could not be reached by phone or e-mail.
The book is listed by the National Library Board as for reference only, through reservation.
All Singapore publishers are legally required to deposit two copies of every publication published in Singapore with the NLB.
The book is not known to be circulating in the wider public catalogue.
There have been other instances of books causing controversy in Singapore.
In 2017, eight book titles that were previously available at public libraries were pulled permanently from the shelves after they were deemed to have the potential of creating religious and racial disharmony.
The books were part of the Malay-language series Agama, Tamadun Dan Arkeologi (Religion, Civilisation And Archaeology), which was previously found in the junior non-fiction section of public libraries and had been available since 2013.
A netizen had flagged the books on social media after finding one of them had featured on its cover children wearing yarmulkes and smiling as they hold machine guns.
Another book contained declarations of how the third world war will “start in the Middle East between Israel and the neighbouring countries, which are the Arab states”.
In 2014, an incident involved the books And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express, which were initially pulled from shelves after public uproar as some felt they encouraged homosexuality. The books were eventually moved to the adult’s section.
In 2002, there was controversy over the Celebrate English Book 2B, a textbook used in schools that contained a section with the theme Witches and Magic Spells.
Some Singaporeans had expressed outrage at the time, as they felt it introduced witchcraft to impressionable students.
MOE later defended the book, saying its textbooks had been rigorously reviewed and the theme was to teach vocabulary and language use effectively.