The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has officially barred pick-up artist Julien Blanc from entering the country after 8,511 Singaporeans signed a petition to keep him out.
“The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, in consultation with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, will not allow Mr Blanc into Singapore,” wrote the Ministry of Home Affairs, in an email sent this morning to Charis Mah, who started the petition.
Blanc is a pick-up artist at Real Social Dynamics, and promotes anti-social and abusive pick-up tactics.
The email, which Mah published as an update to her online petition added: "Blanc has been involved in seminars in various countries that advised men to use highly abusive techniques when dating women. Violence against women or any persons is against Singapore law".
“(It) was heartening to see the clear confirmation that many men and women alike feel strongly about preventing the spread of Blanc's messages and activities here,” Mah told Mothership.sg. “I did believe that (the MHA) would respond, and initially I had hoped that they would at least disallow Blanc's seminars here, especially after other countries took action."
Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing wrote in a Facebook post that some have shared their concerns about Blanc.
He said that "violence against innocent people is unlawful and totally unacceptable. We cannot allow people to perpetuate such unlawful activities in our country".
The petition’s success is an unusual one, given that petitions rarely succeed in Singapore.
The ban on shisha led to a petition and open letter, which was signed by 1,048 supporters. Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui’s alleged ‘heckling’ at Hong Lim Park led to a petition for the government to remove Han Hui Hui’s citizenship, which had a larger following of 6,314 supporters. Yet, both petitions garnered no response from the government.
This petition, however, may have succeeded because of its global nature.
Petitions against Julien Blanc were started in the UK, Japan, Canada and Australia, and these countries, along with Brazil, have denied him a visa.
In addition, the petition was relatively non-political, and did not entail reversing a previous government decision, like the petition against the ban on shisha. Other petitions that failed were more political in nature, such as the petition to remove Han Hui Hui’s citizenship.
The petition was also relatively non-controversial and did not involve religion, unlike the petitions for and against the Health Promotion Board’s FAQ on Sexuality. The petition to restore the original FAQ got 5,389 signatures, while the petition to take down the original FAQ was signed by 26,137 people. The FAQs eventually stayed, though links to LGBT support groups were removed.
Petition organiser ‘thankful'
Mah believes that AWARE and media reports "helped to highlight the issue to more Singaporeans, which resulted in more people quickly taking action (to sign the petition". "I think Blanc's actions and messages make him a more clear-cut issue for most people… So it is difficult to say anything about how this affects the overall state of affairs here, and whether or not it can even be related to other hot button issues,” she said.
“(The petition is) more of of a success for everyone who felt Blanc was an urgent issue, rather than my own,” she added.
Mah is thankful that the MHA "decided on the best possible outcome we hoped for". She said, "We are all very grateful that the relevant authorities have heard our voices and are supporting our stand… I am sure we are all thankful to the civil servants and authorities for helping to keep violence as well as messages which condone violence out of our country."