Thursday, May 14, 2009

Government, homosexuality and AWARE

So the government has broken its silence on the issue. There's fairly wide coverage of this in the Straits Times today, so go read.

Whatever we may often criticise the gahment for, I must admit that at the crucial moments, they have been able to step in and provide the calming leadership that is required. This has been one such occasion. So I applaud the government for the very even handed way that they have now dealt with this issue. There have been a couple of slaps on the wrists where they have been needed, but I don't think anyone would dispute that they were justified. I don't think anyone would be shouting 'referee kelong'.

But here's a thought worth pondering....I think.

We don't really want religious groups muscling into what we perceive as public space, and imposing their views on a secular activity (really? how about schools and hospitals? But I digress....). The public reaction against the perceived Christian takeover of AWARE was very clear even though it was really not a church-backed 'takeover', rather one that was coordinated by a group of like-minded people from the same church. But the message was unmistakable. But how about if so-called secular groups like AWARE were taken over by a group of like-minded activists of LBGT leanings? Shouldn't we be equally concerned?

Shouldn't we?


angry doc said...

I think we should be concerned that the government think they have the right to tell us what we can or cannot do when it comes to the running of an NGO. I also think we should be concerned if the people of Singapore welcome the fact that the government have chosen to "pass judgement" on this issue.

gigamole said...

Good morning Angry Doc. Nice of you to drop in.

I don't really have a problem with WKS 'passing judgement' on this whole fiasco. The whole issue had become too much of a wayang anyway. Everyone's shouting, and not making very much sense anymore. And most definitely, the press (particularly the ST) has had a field day hyperinflating the issue. Irresponsible lot.

I guess it was just his version of 'shut up and sit down'.

Was he 'passing judgement'? Well, I think he thought he was. It will clearly only be that if we accept the judgement, and let it constrain us. No doubt, I think the press, after the spanking, will now go and sit quietly in the corner for a while, but I don't think they will remain there for long.

I think the LBGTs had managed to manouvre themselves into the public limelight which I believe has proven counterproductive, but that was their own undoing.

I personally think that for better or worse, WKS rather than 'passing judgement' had blown the timeout whistle, and he was very even handed about it. It is a good opportunity for everyone to recalibrate their positions.

glassbox said...


Agree with your point about the LGBT group getting the limelight which proved to be counterproductive for their cause.

The press and those from the LGBT was playing a very dangerous card called 'religion'. JL, Thio Su Mien and gang were just like minded individuals who happened to come from the same church and networks. I do share their sentiments, know who they are, have common friends, attend different church and when I take a view on this issue, it has nothing to do with pushing a religious agenda to 'conquer the world' with Christianity like some would suggest. But only because I am a mother and would want to protect the decent elements of this society for the sake of the future of my children and children's children.

The whole 'religious' angle was planted by the irresponsible press and made worse by bad and lopsided coverage by over emotional reporters on the media.

It is no wonder you get a tirade of frustration and backlash - especially on the Reach portal - how else are the 'silent majority' or even the 'vocal decent people' going to get a chance to make their views and their concerns known without being called 'bigot', 'fundies' etc etc.

I am relieved that our government has come out with a statement that on surface looks evenhanded, although I wished he said more about MOE's accountability to the parents of what happened on the CSE issue - which is really the real issue behind this whole hullaba. The Old ladies of Aware was fortunate to get their organisation back - they lost it out of pure complacency and naivety - nothing else, not even the so called 'takeover' which suggests a premeditated attempt as there was not one. In fact, I believe that JL and gang was probably prepared to work with the old members in a friendly setting but their intention was probably hijacked by aggressive elements within the 'volunteer' base of Aware (many of which I believe have now surfaced as members), the media and some old guards with their constant ranting and seditious allegations (not forgetting the unexplainable episdode with DBS) - leaving very little room for any face saving manourves for and from anyone.

One good that has come out of this though is that everyone is now very aware and much more educated of AWARE, the media slant, the tactics of the aggressive elements of the LGBT group and of course the obvious incompetence of parts of our civil service esp the MOE. So, with this new found 'awareness', I would say that we are going to get more active citizenry from the 'silent majority'. They won't be that silent anymore.

gigamole said...

Hi Glassbox.

Nice to have you back. Your warmth and sincerity is very much welcomed here.

Yeah, you're right. The previously silent majority seems to have found a way to make their voices heard. And I think that is wonderful for the development of our civil society. Their methods are still relatively unsophisticated, but methinks it will evolved rather rapidly. We should thank AWARE for helping speed up the process... :)

It is an important development as it will give housewives, mothers and the otherwise voiceless Ms Average a say in how Singapore society should develop.

Keep the faith, girl.

angry doc said...


I think your comments illustrate what I was trying to say: each side will take WKS's interview as a "conclusion" or a "closure" to the episode, and try to interprete his remarks to find bits of victory for their own side, as if the government had any moral authority to tell us what we did was right or wrong to begin with.

Gigamole is correct: it only becomes a judgement if we allow it to be. The government has no right to tell us what is right or wrong - we must oursevles decide what is right or wrong and the government must act according to our will. How we do this is up to us, unless we surrender that right each and every time to the government, calling on them to act as the referee whenever we cannot agree, or accepting their "timeout whistle" as the signal to stop fighting for what we believe in.

gigamole said...

:) There's actually an art in mediation if you can bring 'closure' to a contentious situation, and everybody goes away feeling they had all gained something.

So WKS didn't do too badly any case was a good chance to chalk up some brownie points after the Mas Selamat fiasco. :)

Seriously though, methinks it wasn't that inappropriate that the gahment actually did step in to calm the waters. The 'civil' debate wasn't really getting very civilized, and it had already come to some kind of stand-off.

So time-out lah.

We shouldn't worry that the debate has gone away though. I am sure it will surface again, in some form or other. You can't keep a lid on the pressure permanently.


glassbox said...

Hi Gigamole

Have been very busy lately. Thanks for viewing my contribution positively. Its always nice to know you are being appreciated...

Agree with you that this debate will surface in another form....and I think its surfacing under SKH at the REACH portal.

BTW, REACH has actually deleted some posts at the request of SKH. I'm quite disappointed at that since it provides a precedent for a government website to 'take sides' by deleting posts. We will go down the path of who will then be authorised to delete the posts. (In fact, I'm wondering how he managed to convince REACH to remove the posts....??) It would have been better off for the REACH portal to insist on registration with IC etc and take it like any public forum. And if SKH or anyone else is not happy with what is written, there is always the civil way of resolving it. Otherwise, its just going to be a useless portal - what's the point of unvalidated feedback?

So, now if the SKH issue is being buried, and like you said its still a pressure cooker....I wonder where it will surface again.....My guess is: at the elections.

gigamole said...

I'm really not too concerned about the REACH reaction to SKH. My personal view is that he is perhaps too one-sided in his support for the gay community. I don't really know his motivations, but it's probably not so important. He has a right to his views.

He has a right like anyone else to be an NMP if he is able to contribute. I think if he uses his NMP position as the thin edge of the wedge for gay-rights then I think it will soon publicly known and the public can decide if it is acceptable.

Actually I think the public should be given a say as to who becomes an NMP, and there must be some accountability with respect to NMP performance.

angry doc said...

"I'm quite disappointed at that since it provides a precedent for a government website to 'take sides' by deleting posts."


You need to understand the decision in the context of libel laws.

Saying that SKH took money from someone is stating a "fact", not an "opinion", and it is plain to see that such a thing if true will be damaging to his reputation.

By "publishing" such comments on its website, REACH can be held to be commiting an offence which carries the same penalties.

It is not a matter of "taking sides", but one of prudence now that SKH has made a police report which may result in a legal suit.

glassbox said...

Angry doc

I'm no lawyer but I'm think there is no libel statutory law in Singapore, it is only under civil case law. This means, SKH's will only have a case if he can bring REACH to the courts and have it affirmed by the courts that it is defamatory. Otherwise, what makes a defamatory comment is anybody's guess.

In contrast, sedition and inflammatory posts I believe are covered under the ISA, which is a statute.

Nothing in this country is stopping SKH from exercising his civil liberties to sue for defamation. He may just try aggressively demanding a portal to release IP addresses etc. , there really is no statutory liability on the part of REACH to release anything, if no judge has given a warrant to do so.

Maybe some lawyer can help clarify...

angry doc said...

Libel/defamation comes under the Penal Code (Chapter XII), and carries a jail term of up to 2 years.

By the way I think REACH did the right thing by not releasing the IP of the posters without a court order.

gigamole said...

Hmmm... I don't feel particularly qualified to opine about legal issues, but this I know, that we should discuss the issues rather than attack the person. In that vein, I thought that REACH was probably right in curtailing those comments which were too personally motivated. I would definite do so in this blog, if there were such personal attacks.