Singapore's Dr. Love has ambitious plans to educate the world about sex. The starting point is his laptop -- and the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia .
On Tuesday, Wei Siang Yu, nicknamed "Dr. Love" for his flamboyant, unconventional methods of sex education for Singaporeans, unveils his multi-media empire to Indonesians.
They are invited to send anonymous text messages to ask an artificially intelligent avatar, "Nova," any question they have relating to sex, Dr. Love explains.
They might get a personal answer from one of the Indonesian doctors on the panel behind "Nova," though given the expected volume of messages, they probably won't. But their questions will be compiled and responded to on the "Love Airways" website, where anyone can log on and learn, he says.
"It's a boarding pass -- it's like a journey," says the enthusiastic Australian-trained doctor as he logs on to a mocked-up boarding pass to access his site, where he shows off Nova and his ambitious plans.
Backed by Fiesta, a major condom brand in Indonesia, the site also features a sex forum where users can ask each other questions.
"What we are saying is, the best solution is not just to tell people what to do and not to do, but rather to create a big forum using multi-media... This way we get the real questions," says Dr. Love, his trademark square-rimmed glasses pushed back on his forehead.
"It's about real content. It's about sex education made by the people for the people."
With his buttonless white shirt, checked trousers and white shoes, the 37-year-old, who is a minor celebrity in Singapore, looks more DJ than doctor-turned-inventor.
"The world has been running sex education campaigns presuming that people will follow what the system wants -- but we don't actually know what is on the ground, qualitatively," he says.
Sex surveys, he complains, ha
ve sample sizes that are too small and answers that are unreliable as "talking about sex is pretty much taboo still in Asia."
Indonesia already has mainstream relationship advice readily available in the media, as well as commercial public seminars offering advice on sexual health. But nothing packaged quite this slickly.
Giving people an opportunity to ask questions anonymously, Dr. Love says, will help public health educators find out what communities really want to know and turns the idea of preaching to students at school about sex on its head.
Dr. Love is upbeat about the prospect of Indonesians getting involved, saying they are more relaxed about such things than their reputedly straitlaced Singaporean neighbours.
"The Singaporean threshold of good quality sex may not be the same as the threshold of good quality sex in Indonesia. I think the people here are more relaxed. They understand quality is very, very important," he says.
And is Dr. Love fearful of ruffling feathers among Indonesia's small band of radical Islamists? Not really.
"Number one, we are not aligned with any religion... We are not bringing foreign content to impose on the culture," he responds.
"I don't drive the content, they will drive it themselves."
The Indonesian programme follows similar campaigns run for 10 days in both Holland and Singapore, though this one is rolling out indefinitely and it is the first time a so-called AI avatar is being used.
"Imagine you have a computer system that gathers 20,000 questions and answers that come from Indonesia, answered by doctors... Later on in this AI system the avatar will be able to answer your question or help you to pick questions and a relevant answer to your query," he says.
"You are going to educate your own avatar in your country, to represent you and answer your questions."
Besides the w
ebsite, which is in English now but will soon be in Indonesian, the answers to more common questions will also be disseminated via the Love Airways magazine. The glossy is already on the shelves in conservative Singapore, and is scheduled to debut here late this year.
The "adult wellness" magazine, backed by his company Meggpower, touches on everything from where to escape with your spouse for a romantic holiday to sexually transmitted diseases.
A late-night television advice show similar to one Dr. Love hosted in Singapore is also in the pipeline for Indonesia.
The text message programme will be rolled out to Malaysia next, followed by India and China.
"At the end of the day, it's a whole total revamp of sexual health epidemiology in the world," the indefatigable doctor says.
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