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'Sex and the City' Goes to Singapore

This famously strait-laced city-state was bombarded Thursday with garish, pink, full-page notices that — at long last — its citizens can enjoy "Sex and the City." (search

HBO Asia, the cable television station that will air the series from Friday night, took out the hard-to-miss advertisements in the conservative Straits Times newspaper and several other dailies to announce the show's imminent arrival.

The raunchy tale of four New York women and their relationships was long deemed too indecent for Singaporean audiences by the city-state's busy censors. This restriction became emblematic of the country's strict censorship rules, which either cut or ban outright dozens of movies each year.

The government says the tight web of rules are needed to protect conservative social values in the multicultural nation of 4 million.

But last September, in what's seen as a mild relaxation of those rules, the authorities said it was now OK for locals to keep up with the adventures of Carrie Bradshaw (search) and her pals — provided scenes with nudity or bad language were clipped.

The government has also taken other minor steps to ease up, such as permitting bar-top dancing — previously deemed too dangerous — and ditching a ban on bungee jumping.

However, most basic political and social controls remain. Public political gatherings are largely outlawed without a police permit, and Singapore regularly fines its citizens for spitting, littering and not flushing public toilets.

HBO Asia said it would kick off "Sex and the City" with the fifth season of the show, and follow that up with the sixth season starting from Aug. 17.

The company's advertisements — which featured the show's star, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, gazing skyward from a park bench — teased readers with simplistic relationship queries, such as "Can you be friends with an ex?" and "Do women just want to be rescued?"