Vivian’s bomb goes boo boo

Vivian Balakrishnan must be extremely disappointed with Singapore netizens. On Saturday 23 April 2011, he dropped a huge hint that out there in the miasma of digital space, there’s a “suppressed” video that reveals the Singapore Democratic Party’s hidden agenda.

Over the following 48 hours, this video-hunt became a small frenzy. By Sunday afternoon, at least two videos on Youtube were found. One was 3:00 minutes long, the other was 6:17 minutes. But just about nobody saw anything particularly incriminating about them. Are Singapore netizens thick in the head?

Both videos were of the same event, held sometime in August last year when lawyer M Ravi was trying to whip up public support for a constitutional challenge against Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Vincent Wijeysingha appeared to be present at the back of the room. While the face was out of focus, the voice, when he spoke, was recogniseably his. It was quite obvious from the phrasing he used that he identified with the gay community. On top of that, M Ravi at several points lauded him as the “first gay MP in Singapore”.

The conclusion that just about everybody seeing the videos drew was that, OK, Vincent Wijeysingha is probably gay. But if you look at the first 30 readers’ comments following Today newspaper’s article,  just about all of them took the view, So what?

For the record, the article opened thus, providing enough clues for others to find the video:

It is a six-minute video clip – posted on YouTube on April 14 – of what appears to be a recording of a forum discussing whether Section 377A of Singapore’s penal code, which criminalises sex between men, violates the Republic’s Constitution.

Is this the video which Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan was referring to in a news report published yesterday?

That is what netizens are suggesting.

[snip]

Some netizens have highlighted the video clip – a shorter version of which was uploaded on Saturday – in which, near the end, a man on the stage said: “At the end of the day, you all can petition the Prime Minister, this and that, and so on and so forth … If you really want numbers, you have to vote an MP. Gay MP there, first gay MP in Singapore, ladies and gentlemen, Vincent Wijeysingha.”

Dr Balakrishnan has not confirmed whether this video clip was what he was referring to.

Today newspaper, 25 April 2011, Netizens attempt to identify video SDP accused of ‘suppressing’

Three examples of readers’ comments (before the trolls and Bible nuts got into the act):

1. Now this MP has openly attacked a candidate’s personal sexual preferences. What next, is he going to attack someone who is not the same religion as him, or share his other beliefs? This person is dangerous, he can cause riots. I would advise Singaporeans to vote wisely & not vote for this type of person.

2. If it was the SDP team which was making the same comment you would expect a lawsuit coming soon and the press having a field day attacking SDP yet a man of Dr Vivian’s calibre has to resort to this type of behaviour. You have just lost my vote with this sort of ungentleman-like attack. Focus on the bread and butter, housing, policies that matters to Sporeans. Not name-calling antics.

3. If VW had said he was straight and lied about it then yes, maybe we should be angry at him for hiding and lying about his sexual preferences. But since candidates are not required to state their preference then I don’t see why this should be an issue. This has nothing to do with gay, but it had everything to do with politics. Singaporeans should open their eyes and see what is really happening.

One comment was unusually perceptive. “If it was surpressed, how did you find it on youtube?” he asked.

Balakrishnan must have been appalled how dense Singaporeans were. We couldn’t see the shocking horror that he could see in the video. So, Monday (25 April 2011) evening, he found himself with no choice but to spoonfeed stupid Singaporeans as to what exactly that video suggested of Vincent Wijeysingha’s and the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secret agenda.

He and his People’s Action Party team-mates contesting Holland-Bukit Timah group representation constituency jointly issued this statement:

Dear Friends of the Media

Please find below a statement which is being sent on behalf of the PAP team contesting in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. We would appreciate it very much if you could kindly publish the statement in full, and attribute it to the PAP team contesting in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, led by Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Kindly call me at [phone number deleted] if you have any queries or if you need any clarification.

What is his agenda?

A video has been posted on the internet showing Vincent Wijeysingha participating at a forum which discussed the promotion of the gay cause in Singapore.

The discussion at the forum also touched on sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age.

In the video, Wijeysingha was introduced as being from the SDP.

In addition to other comments, Wijeysingha stated: ‘I think the gay community has to rally ourselves. Perhaps one outcome of today’s forum would be, for those of us who are interested, to come together to further consider how we can address the 377 issue as well as further rights issues in relation to gays and lesbians.’

We believe that candidates should be upfront about their political agenda and motives, so that voters are able to make an informed choice.

The issue is not Wijeysingha’s sexual orientation. That is a matter for him.

The video raises the question on whether Wijeysingha will now pursue this cause in the political arena and what is the SDP’s position on the matter.

Vivian Balakrishnan
Liang Eng Hwa
Christopher de Souza
Sim Ann

How blind of us!  Did nobody notice that the video showed the SDP promoting the “gay cause” or that it “touched on sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age”? Did nobody pen outraged remarks about this evidence all through the weekend? It’s right there in the first 30 seconds of this video:

For the record, in case the video is taken down, we only see M Ravi speaking through those 30 seconds. He says (not that it makes a lot of sense):

You took so long to come. For sixteen-years old boy, what are you doing? Since sixteen there’s another category, then eighteen there’s another category of consent.

This guy says, sixteen I can form an opinion, how come 14 years old in Sweden they form an opinion? You know, right? Consent is as low as 14 years old between males in some western countries and so on. So he has an issue, you know, how come they and we and tho. . .  you know international law becomes an issue, we have a global community and why the discrimination and all that, but the point is this: if you wait too long . . . .

Vincent Wijeysingha did not speak up until two and a half minutes later, by which time the discussion had moved on to other issues. To try to impute that Wijeysingha was supporting the non-existent call to lower the age of consent is like trying to fetch water from the moon.

Watch the video. I have no concern at all as a gay person myself for the whole world to see what was said in there. It’s a snapshot of perfectly reasonable active citizenry, albeit with one person in the video saying some rather incomprehensible things.

* * * * *

There is something very strange about the timeline of this video. It was uploaded on 14 April 2011, ten days before Vivian Balakrishnan made his innuendo about a video that the Singapore Democratic Party should explain. But, look carefully at the explanatory note by the person who uploaded it — JohnTan888888:

How did JohnTan888888 know ten days beforehand that Balakrishnan would be accusing the SDP of trying to hide the video? What do you think is the likely relationship between JohnTan888888 and Vivian Balakrishnan? Was the video there all along, and Balakrishnan stumbled on it?

A simple check also reveals that JohnTan888888 joined Youtube on the same day (14 April 2011) and has uploaded just this one video and no other.

* * * * *

SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan issued this video statement late on 25 April 2011:

“Let me state categorically: we are not pursuing the gay agenda and none of our MPs will.” And rightly so. Whatever that “gay agenda” is, the SDP has never included it in their manifesto though there are published statements (nothing “suppressed” or hidden there) that Section 377A is an example of inequality. At 0:51, he says, “At the very core of our country and our national pledge, is the creed that we do not discriminate against anyone, be it on the basis of the colour of their skin, the faith in their hearts, whether they are young or old, or what their sexual orientation is.”

Even the People’s Action Party (PAP) government (though not some of their backbenchers) has said something similar; of late however, Balakrishnan behaved as if he was not aware of it.

Nonetheless, it is also worth noting that Balakrishnan et al, in their statement of 25 April 2011 also said: “The issue is not Wijeysingha’s sexual orientation. That is a matter for him,” effectively conceding that sexual orientation is not an issue at all in Singapore politics — perhaps the first time this has been said. Perhaps other PAP leaders rapped him on the knuckles?

72 Responses to “Vivian’s bomb goes boo boo”


  1. 1 Gazebo 26 April 2011 at 02:40

    fantastic expose! good catch with regards to the uploading date! wow. this is really awesome. how can we further publicize this? any thoughts? i will be posting this article on my FB page and spread the word. nice find YB.

  2. 2 Bobby 26 April 2011 at 03:01

    I think the repeal of 377A (which the SDP supports) will be deemed by most conservatives to be part of the “gay agenda”. I felt that Chee should have at least made it clear that it supported the repeal of 377A as part of the SDP’s fight for human rights and equality.

  3. 3 thm 26 April 2011 at 03:06

    That sounds like a possible case for slander under the Defamation Act right there – not the part about being gay or supporting the repeal of 377, but the apparent attempt to associate Wijeysingha with supporting the cause for lowering the age of consent for boys, which (imo) is an entirely different issue from being gay and may create different impressions. And the observation about the Youtube video – assuming the description wasn’t, or couldn’t be said to be, edited after Balakrishnan’s comment – may even prove malicious intent. It might be interesting if it can be investigated who this JohnTan88888 is.

  4. 4 K 26 April 2011 at 03:06

    Note also that John Tan is the name of SDP’s assistant sec-gen.

    I believe this is a tactic designed to achieve two objectives:

    1. fracture the party who has recently recruited strong candidates that might be anti-gay.

    2. discredit Vincent Wijeysingha in the public’s eyes

    You will note that SDP’s assistant sec-gen John Tan had appeared in SDP’s Christmas greeting video where he made the suggestion that Jesus stood up for the poor and against oppression.

    This might have hinted to this Youtube user johntan888888that the SDP assistant sec-gen might be some kind of Christian fundamentalist. So with this video, he attempts to play this make-belief fundamentalist against a supposedly gay Vincent Wijeysingha.

    On a separate matter, there are some sock puppets on Facebook spreading the rumour that John Tan somehow conspired with PAP to destroy RP.

    Wherever the truth lies, there is a clear attempt to sabotage and discredit SDP.

    • 5 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 11:50

      Let me make this clear: The real John Tan who is one of the long-time leaders of the SDP is someone I have met many times. I know he cannot be the ” JohnTan888888″ who uploaded the video, because John Tan’s sincerely held views are diametrically opposed to such smear tactics. Again, it does not matter if John Tan is a Christian. And surely there is no doubt that Jesus stood up for the poor and against oppression; if only more people did likewise.

      • 6 Nanashee 26 April 2011 at 14:58

        I think JohnTan88888 is the same guy who keeps posting on Vivian Balakrishnan’s FB page lauding his awesomeness and talking about how Dr Wijeysingha is going to lose the elections. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000736952599&sk=wall

        If you read his wall, he’s a very…staunch PAP supporter. Desperate for a scholarship much?

      • 7 Robox 26 April 2011 at 23:17

        I believe that this John Tan is likely the one who posted a message on the YPAP’s FB page some two or three weeks ago. In it, he stated explicitly that if the “opposition” can attack Tin Pei Ling, then the PAP should attack opposition members as well, and he explicitly mentioned that Vincent Wijeysinghe – and no one else – his marital status, sexual orientation, and “what he was doing in London”, as questions to pose to him.

        I wrote to the SDP immediately, sayiing that I “sense these things very well” and that Vincent Wijeyasinghe was going to be targetted by another viscious Christian anti-gay campaign. (This John Tan IS a Christian, from other things he wrote in the YPAP FB.)

        This is not a court of law, and I refuse to follow the rules of evidence – “hard evidence” – for that context, but I am conclusively inferring connections between that and Vivian Balakrishnan’s actions, cementing his and his party’s huge propensity for sleazy politics.

  5. 9 Marla Bendini 26 April 2011 at 03:28

    Youtube, coming-out-the-closet, JohnTan88888…

    I believe Vincent Wijeysingha has no need to colloquially speaking, come out of the “cupboard”.

  6. 10 Rabbit 26 April 2011 at 03:55

    If Vivian Balakrishnan conceded that sexual orientation is not an issue in Singapore politics, than why did he start the fuss and take pain to put words into Vincent’s mouth. Maliciously discrediting an innocent person thru writing letter of falsehood in this crucial time of election is dirty politics at the highest degree.

    Going back to the video where Vivian Balakrishnan was trying hard to dig bone out of the porridge, Ravi was making speech most of the time and merely stating consenting age between male varies from different countries and that govt has the flexibility to change them at whims and fancies if 377A penal code is not challenged or to that effect. While he was at it before moving on to the next subject of the forum, no where was Vincent Wijeh came into the limelight screaming for support to lower consenting age between man as maligned by Vivian Balakrishnan in his self-penned wayang letter.

    Vivian Balakrishnan is seen like a fly without its head now – confused and lost, hitting blindly at everything that crossed its path in order to survive. Is this the kind of politician we want of Vivian Balakrishnan – unfaithful, ruthless “servant” of the people?

  7. 11 peiying 26 April 2011 at 05:29

    Mr. Au,

    I really love the sarcasm that saturates this article. It is hilarious how ‘lame’ PAP’s tactics are.

    I wonder what they will come up with next now that they’re running out of ideas?

  8. 12 Anonymous 26 April 2011 at 06:02

    Without further information, one can also interpret the statement ‘gay MP’ as a mark of solidarity. Similar to Bill Clinton being referred to as the ‘first Black president’. Or Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. While I admit this interpretation is probably not the right one, what if it is?

    Either way, I hope this issue does not overwhelm the election.

  9. 13 Chaikin 26 April 2011 at 06:16

    I think Vivian is doing a George Yeo here ala Aljunied on the matter of James Gomez, compounded by the sneaky and snakey manner of his attack. Vivian has become the lightning rod for the PAP, reflecting the incompetence he displayed for the YOG.

    SDP has answered his questions without equivocation – let’s hear the YOG accounts, where they were able to tell us how many sandwiches were consumed.

  10. 14 Tan Tai Wei 26 April 2011 at 08:26

    Vivian’s personal less-than-progressive understanding of homosexuality (and this for a medical doctor trained in our purportedly “medical hub”!), and therfore, quite clearly, his “homophobia”, we gather from LKY’s “hard talk” comments. He actually mentions Vivian’s disagreeing with him on his view that the sexual orientation is a matter of genes, and not choice for which gays can be held morally responsible.

    • 15 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 11:43

      Yes, I am aware too of that bit in Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truths. It suggests that Vivian Balakrishnan subscribes to the view that sexual orientation is learned behaviour, something that is completely invalidated after a century of scientific research. This notion is only propagated by hardline Christian churches, because it is their way of justifying why homosexuality should be criminalised. They realise that if they accept the scientific fact that sexual orientation is an inborn trait akin to skin colour, gender (which it is), it becomes morally impossible to justify criminalising it. Hardline Christian churches prefer to deny the morally obvious (respect for human dignity) and instead weave their own moralism that begins with a scientific fiction that sexual orientation is learned behaviour.

  11. 16 Gard 26 April 2011 at 08:45

    Perhaps this can go into record:

    Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong who is the anchor Minister for the PAP’s Marine Parade GRC team has urged for “a clean fight” in the upcoming contest in the GRC.

    Writing in the MParader Facebook page, Mr Goh emphasised there should be “no personal attacks, no rude language.”

    He said Singapore is “a gracious, generous community” and the contest should be about which party voters trust “to secure you and your children a better future.”

    Source: ChannelNewsAsia, 21 Apr 2011.

    Consider the scenario: Dr Vivian told someone about his plans, SM Goh heard about it and foresaw the negative fallout, and then took steps to pre-empt this if Dr Vivian, the rebellious child, decide to go ahead with it.

  12. 17 Anonymous 26 April 2011 at 08:51

    Is it possible to change your video description after u’ve uploaded a video? Trying to dismiss any possibilities of the benefit of the doubt for PAP.

    On the other hand, it’s really sad to realize our government of “junzi” (as Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his 18 Sep 2007 Parliamentary Debate) has sunk to such level.

  13. 18 Alan Wong 26 April 2011 at 09:04

    It has been widely rumoured in the net that our very own Head of State is a closetted gay/bisexual with colourful names like ‘Pinky Loon’, etc. Do we or shall we also on the basis of such rumours in the net, ask him to prove his convictions or otherwise ?

    Remember quite a no. of PAP MPs like Charles Chong, Baey Yam Keng, Hri Kumar also spoke in Parliament in support to repeal Section 377A ? Basing on the same standards of questioning as espoused by Vivian, were they also pursuing a gay agenda ?

    Come on Vivian, if any MP decides speak on behalf of the gay minority on equality issues affecting them, what is exactly wrong with that ?

    • 19 Gard 26 April 2011 at 14:48

      Suppose Dr Vincent W. gets elected and starts a debate in parliament to lower the age of consent for sex with boys.

      Pause and consider your reaction.

      What Dr Vivian did was not just Ad Hominem. He poisoned the well. (Even if the bomb in the picture did not go off, the water on the bomb, dripping from the bomb, is venom.)

      It makes it harder for Dr Vincent to pursue a cause to lower the age of consent even if he is not pursuing the ‘gay agenda’ (whatever that is). And it also makes it harder for him to pursue the ‘gay agenda’ even if he has no interest in lower the age of consent.

      In effect, Dr Vincent is rendered ineffective to the gay community (and to the community of minors who wants the right of consent) for the near term.

      Of course, this kind of attack does no good to Dr Vivian’s standing either. And we wonder why Singaporeans are apathetic to politics. How much money are you willing to be paid to wallow in dirt and ruin your reputation?

  14. 20 a kind of chicken 26 April 2011 at 09:41

    Well done Alex. Kudos to a beautiful defence.

  15. 21 Desmond 26 April 2011 at 09:50

    Talk about gutter politics! Well, if the PAP says they have an A-team, the best Singapore can have, then I wouldn’t like to see what is a “less than A-team” from the PAP.

  16. 22 recruit ong 26 April 2011 at 10:07

    it is too early to tell. TNP just did a big hit job on VW on frontpage. in the days to come, prepare for numerous “letters from the public” to start surfacing in the 154th running dog press.

    this vivain and his dumb GRC team mates are keen to open a can of worms seeking to throw this GE’s focus off tangent just like wat they did in 2006 with the james gomez “issue”. PAP is sadly so predictable.

  17. 23 hagar 26 April 2011 at 10:21

    Is this the same John Tan I saw in Vivian Balakrishnan’s Facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/Vivian.Balakrishnan.Sg?ref=ts&sk=wall

    • 24 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 11:34

      Your link does not lead to anything obvious. In any case, let’s not go into a witchhunt, especially over a name that could well be a pseudonym.

      • 25 Becca D'Bus 26 April 2011 at 12:26

        There is a John Tan who has been posting on Vivian Balakrishnan’s FB page.

        Always supportive of the minister and in the last day always jumping to his defense in comments negative wall posts.

        Negative wall posts that have been deleted and continue to be deleted with regularity.

        The John Tan on FB has “Christianity” listed as his religion and “People’s Action Party” listed as his interests.

        Also a profile picture that pings my gaydar and is “Interested in Men and Women”

        This is him:
        http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000736952599

  18. 26 georgia tong 26 April 2011 at 11:10

    VB and MIW have no integrity. They are so shallow and lacking in confident that they have to engage in character smearing with their dirty tricks.

  19. 27 This is Anfield 26 April 2011 at 11:24

    This goes to show just how deep the level of logistics, organisation, network and resources available to disposal of the ruling party.

    For every function or event organised by these “non-mainstream” groups (for want of a better description, apologies ahead), do you realise that every third person in the room could be there for very different reasons?All they need is to do the proverbial “press the button” and the ballistics will start coming.

    This is a subtle, yet deadly and effective way to undermine your opponent, to cast doubt among the electorate’s mind ahead of the polls, and to diminish his standing the next time he comes forward to the public sphere.

    Now that it is out, can you imagine what the ordinary man-in-the-street would do at the next SDP walkabout when VW extends his hand?

  20. 28 Bryan Choong 26 April 2011 at 11:56

    The only offence that I think this video caused is that it is too blurred, too red and the audio too crappy. I hope VB enjoyed the video and went too excited to use this “suppressed” video before understand the content and the discussion. Oh I remember, he is an ophthalmologist so he maybe hard on hearing.

  21. 29 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 12:19

    Here’s a letter published in ‘Today’ newspaper, that is worth archiving:
    http://www.todayonline.com/Voices/EDC110426-0000212/PAPs-statement-on-Wijeysingha-disappointing

    QUOTE
    PAP’s statement on Wijeysingha disappointing
    Letter from Li Shi-En, Lisa
    02:55 AM Apr 26, 2011

    I refer to the TODAYonline article “PAP on Wijeysingha video: Candidates should be upfront about motives” (April 25). The PAP team, led by Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a statement on April 25 that a YouTube video shows SDP candidate Dr Vincent Wijeysingha at a forum discussing gay issues. Dr Balakrishnan added that the video “promotes gay causes” and that this “raises the question on whether Dr Wijeysingha will now pursue this cause in the political arena and what is the SDP’s position on the matter”.

    Firstly, I am surprised that Dr Balakrishnan does not know SDP’s position on the matter because the party has always been upfront about its stand. Its vision is that “as a nation, we must not only show tolerance but also acceptance of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion”. In October 2007, the SDP also publicly supported the call to repeal 377A in accordance with its party principles. All this information is on their website, and Singaporeans who take their voting seriously already know this.

    Secondly, I am not sure what Dr Balakrishnan means by “pursuing this cause in the political arena”. If he is referring to the possibility of Dr Wijeysingha (or any other politician) raising the issue of 377A in Parliament, that is only to be expected at some point in the future, not because of Dr Wijeysingha’s personal sexual orientation or alleged personal cause, but because of SDP’s clearly-stated vision for an inclusive Singapore.

    I am keen to elect politicians who are able to articulate sound, thoughtful and diverse views for discussion on any number of issues in Parliament, regardless of whether I agree with them or not. As such, I am disappointed that Dr Balakrishnan paints such a negative picture of MPs “pursuing causes in the political arena”. Isn’t that what we are voting them in for? In any case, one Dr Wijeysingha in Parliament will hardly swing the votes and abolish 377A, if the majority of politicians and Singaporeans are against this move.

    Thirdly, Dr Balakrishnan describes the video’s forum discussion as having touched on topics like “sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age”. This is a very misleading description. Viewers of the video will know that the forum speaker mentions the different age of consent for different countries, for example Sweden, where the age of consent for sex is 15 years (the speaker mistakenly says 14 years). However, not a single one of the forum participants proceed to discuss whether Singapore’s age of consent should be lowered or not, which suggests that this was never their aim.

    Finally, Dr Balakrishnan says that the video “promotes gay causes”. What exactly is the “gay cause”? If gay men wanting to remove the clause that criminalises their private behaviour is the “gay cause” that Dr Balakrishnan refers to, this video could equally be described as one that supports basic human rights – the right for gay men not to be classified as criminals in Singapore. In the days of apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was jailed for fighting for the “black cause”; nowadays, we refer to this as equality.

    During the April live political debate on Channel NewsAsia, Dr Wijeysingha showed Singaporeans that he is an articulate, capable speaker who is passionate for social justice. My opinion of him has not changed.

    However, I am saddened by the appearance of such gutter politics from one of our Ministers and his PAP teammates, Mr Christopher De Souza, Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Ms Sim Ann, who signed off on this misleading statement. Instead of showing us why they are better leaders for Singapore or engaging the Opposition on policy differences, they have resorted to a smear campaign based on a Youtube video posted by an anonymous netizen.
    ENDQUOTE

    Ten hours later, at 12:17h, this letter had received 1264 Facebook “Likes”.

  22. 30 How low can you get Vivian? 26 April 2011 at 12:27

    It is also clear that the 6-minute video has been deliberately edited to include the part where M Ravi mentions that Sweden’s age of consent is 14 years old, while leaving out any form of context that would shed light on the purpose of that statement.

    What other explanation can there be for including a long and irrelevant segment of M Ravi talking? The only purpose would be to associate Vincent with the comments made about the age of consent.

    M Ravi should issue a statement explaining the context of his comments. Also, those who attended that forum should speak up if they remember seeing anyone taking the video.

    • 31 Eveline 26 April 2011 at 13:11

      Ravi has already given his views:

      [quote]
      Ravi told Yahoo! Singapore that he had organised the forum in November last year — meant to discuss the constitutional challenge of Section 377A — which criminalises sex between men.

      He said that Dr Wijeysingha was invited as one of the speakers in a private capacity. It is understood that there were a total of five speakers at the event.

      “The context of the issue was a constitutional challenge of 377A which is discrimination in the first place. He (Vincent) was just invited as one of the speakers in a private capacity and I as a citizen have the right to speak about the issues that I want,” said Ravi.

      “Just because I raised this issue, why must Wijeysingha be targeted? This issue does not need to be a political agenda only because it was being discussed.

      “Just because another panelist raises some issue, does it automatically become a cause promoted by Wijeysingha? In that dialogue, we were just speaking our own mind.”

      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/pap-team-questions-sdp-candidate-political-agenda-191935320.html

      • 32 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 14:03

        Oh was it in November? I stand corrected, having said earlier that it was in August, but since I wasn’t at the forum, M Ravi would be correct.

  23. 33 Criticalist 26 April 2011 at 12:40

    Just to point out, the video actually surfaced much earlier than JohnTan8888’s posting of it on youtube. The first reference I could find on this was dated 30 Nov 2010 from sammyboy.com’s forum, the subject was “First Gay Politician in Singapore” and posted by “Green Light”. JohnTan8888 merely reposted that same video under a different and more sensationalistic title and descriptor.

    • 34 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 12:48

      That’s correct. I myself saw that video last year and that is how I could put an approximate date (Aug 2011) to it based on my memory, even though I wasn’t there at the meeting. It is thus even more suggestive of black ops that in April 2011, someone re-posted the video just in time for Vivian Balakrishnan to allude to it.

    • 35 How low can you get Vivian? 26 April 2011 at 12:50

      If so, then this looks more and more like a PAP plot that has been long in the making. The person who took the video must have been a mole sent to spy on the proceedings (the PAP is known for sending agents to sit in on such civil society gatherings).

  24. 36 Justin 26 April 2011 at 12:47

    The SDP and Dr Vincent in particular need to seize this opportunity to sue the PAP and Dr Vivian and demand an apology.
    What Dr Vivian has done is pure character assassination.
    My mind is poisoned with this impression of Dr Vincent and “sex with 14 years old boys”. I have no problem with that but I am not sure about the masses – particularly the more conservative Singaporeans.

  25. 37 chua 26 April 2011 at 12:52

    Isn’t great to see our taxpayer monies at work? ISD so busy following the top figures of the opposition, taping surreptiously, hoping to find material to use against them. And in the meantime, Mas Selamat escapes.

  26. 38 Magi 26 April 2011 at 13:03

    This is really the sad truth about homosexuals in Singapore.

    The PM and his father can have all those beautiful words about being inclusive, recognizing LGBTs as important Singaporeans etc etc. When it comes to serving their own agenda though, they have no hesitation in using this to assault opponents.

    Think of all the implications Vivian has placed forth, whether it’s about Vincent or not. He’s as good as saying any gay in influence is pedophilic and undesirable. So much for a minister of “community development.”

  27. 39 Criticalist 26 April 2011 at 13:07

    Additionally, I wanted to point out that the PAP statement’s quote of VW’s utterance missed out two linguistically crucial parts. The complete utterance is as follows (broken into sentences):
    “(1) I don’t think it’s for Ravi by himself to rally the gay community.
    (2) I think the gay community has to rally ourselves.
    (3) So perhaps one outcome of today’s forum could be those of us who are interested to come together to further consider how we can address the 377 issue as well as furhter rights issues in relation to gays and lesbians.
    (4) Maybe we should explain the [numbers], have a bit of a more informal kind of conversation, in the days to come and see where we go from this.
    (5)Can I put down on the table as a proposition.”
    Sentence 4 and 5 is missing and yet provide a very different interpretation from the explicitly decontextualised statement the PAP is accusing VW of making. (4) and (5) taken together with (2) and (3) suggests quite clearly the following:
    a. That VW is making a suggestion specifically to the FORUM MEMBERS at that session.
    b. That the addressing of 377 and other “rights issues” should be a TENTATIVE PROPOSITION for FORUM members, in that PARTICULAR CONTEXT.

    Without (4) and (5), it would appear that VW is making a statement that applies in a general sense and hence can be construed to be his political agenda (although I don’t see how it can become SDP’s agenda). The omission of (4) and (5) effectively decontextualised the statement.

    And Alan is absolutely correct, how is the supposed raising of ‘rights issues’ (albeit in a forum) construed to become a political agenda for a candidate and subsequently his party? By Vivianian logic, the 3 PAP MPs who objected to 377A have a ‘gay political agenda’ and hence so does the PAP.

    Finally, and I quote Vivian here: “We believe that candidates should be upfront about their political agenda and motives, so that voters are able to make an informed choice.” I would like to know what Vivian and his team’s POLITICAL AGENDA AND MOTIVES are in raising this issue, so that I may make an informed choice. It has to work both ways.

  28. 41 Poker Player 26 April 2011 at 13:08

    “Let me state categorically: we are not pursuing the gay agenda and none of our MPs will.”

    Liberals should stop using the vocabulary of reactionaries. What on earth is the “gay agenda”? Imagine Jewish politicians saying “we are not pursuing the Jewish agenda”. Lets develop new reflexes here – scorn and ridicule are entire appropriate here.

  29. 42 prettyplace 26 April 2011 at 13:16

    Well done Alex. Great investigative work.
    I can imagine, it must have given you a sleepless night or two.

    What Vivian did and worst, the other 3 signing on it is distressing to Singapore politics.
    He dug his own grave, he knew he was getting unpopular and thought that this might give him a lift.
    However, I am surprised if he knew the internet’s psyche on such issues and how people relate to it. He should have discarded such an idea at once.

    Politically a very naive person indeed. I’ve got no words for the rest of the three. What a silly bunch following like sheeps.
    They are worst then him.

  30. 43 harishpillay 26 April 2011 at 14:00

    If you allow me to do some plausibility analysis of the sequence of events here:

    a) The video was uploaded on April 14th and kept private by the JohnTan888888
    b) Perhaps JohnTan888888 is a PAP sympathizer and perhaps he/she was the one attending the event last year.
    c) JohnTan888888 might have figured that this was and an opportunity to help her/his PAP.
    d) He contacts PAP and offers the video as evidence of something that they could use (potentially for something in return, maybe not)
    d) Dr Balakrishnan mentions it on Sunday
    e) JohnTan888888 removes the private-tag of the video, changes the heading to reflect the commentary and viola.

    Unless we can get someone in Google/YouTube to offer up the logs for that video, we will not be able to confirm the theory as suggested above.

  31. 44 Chun Wee 26 April 2011 at 14:38

    “The discussion at the forum also touched on sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age.”

    Is it me or has the PAP team essentially implied that one of their opponents is a child molester or supports paedophilia?

    This is lower than low. It is completely disgraceful behaviour. My vote is not going to go to any party that utilizes such filthy tactics.

  32. 45 Zulkarnain Hassan 26 April 2011 at 14:43

    Hi Alex,

    I am quite sure this John Tan who exposed the video is the same malicious guy who frequently writes on Vivian’s page, supporting his own homophobic stance.

    he even sent me a racist message to me on FB, saying if there were a racial riot the minority race are going to suffer, because our numbers are few. Someone needs to expose this John Tan alias.

    He is running a one man smear campaign helped by Dr Vivian and his PAP affiliates. This I am sure, cos when I tried to expose John Tan with the email he sent me on Dr Vivian’s page, that whole thread has been deleted. It seems Dr Viv is trying to protect this John Tan fella.

    It cannot be a mere coincidence.

  33. 46 dolphin81 26 April 2011 at 14:43

    I have read some netizens’ arguement is that Dr Vivian’s real aim is to pander to the conservative upper class in the GRC.

    Dr Vivian’s strategy is this

    -)He is prepared to give up the 35% pro-opp voters.

    -)He is not confident of winning the 10%++ swing voters who are sick of the PAP autocracy.

    Therefore his main focus is the core supporters and the conservative upper class. His calculation is that he can win a simple majority which is enough to keep the GRC.

    This is why he decides to take the risk in issuing such a statement. He expects the vocal Netizens to be voting against the PAP, gay or no gay.

    • 47 Gazebo 26 April 2011 at 15:10

      yes in my opinion, it is very much a calculated move.

      (ok firstly, notice that ST has not carried any news at all on SDP’s well thought out and prompt reply. leaving PAP with the last word entirely.)

      in my opinion, basically they realised they aren’t going to get many of the LGBT votes to begin with, so its ok to lose whatever little support they were going to get. however now, having dredged through the gutter, they are definitely going to get all the fundamental christians’ votes, by painting the scenario that voting for the SDP is going let loose a sea of pink.

      of course i still really hope that i had gotten it all wrong.

      • 48 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 16:06

        Don’t be so quick to point fingers at the Straits Times (ST). I was kept up-to-date hour by hour last night so I think I roughly know how events unfolded.

        The PAP/Vivian team statement was issued fairly late in the day (perhaps deliberately to catch the next day’s news and to deny SDP time to reply). ST desperately tried to get SDP’s response, and even appealed to me to use my good offices to hurry them up. I did what I could, but it is never easy for a party to craft a reply and then go the rounds getting assent by all other party leaders and candidates. Originally, I believe SDP wanted to issue a statement to ST and the press in reply to PAP’s ignominious statement, but (it’s a longish story and I won’t get into it) eventually decided to speak directly to voters instead via video. Doing a video also takes time, and by the time it was up, I think it was past ST’s deadline.

        Let’s withhold judgement about ST until we see what’s in tomorrow’s papers.

    • 49 J 26 April 2011 at 15:31

      10%++ swing only? I think it should be a lot more significant than that?

      • 50 prettyplace 26 April 2011 at 18:30

        I think SDP’s stand has always been about human dignity & justice. I am sure people will look at it from that angle.

        Its difficult to suggest if this was a calculated ploy by Vivian, looks like other PAP members are steering clear of him and this issue. Maybe this silly tact is going to backfire.

        If all other PAP memebers are going to stay away from this issue, Vivian will indeed look silly with his team. If they do come strongly with this issue, then its going to be another ‘Gomez gate’, either way, Vivian dug his hole deep.

        There’s another 10days to go. A long way.

      • 51 Anon 26 April 2011 at 23:24

        I am quite disappointed with SDP’s lack of contingency plans. Surely they should have anticipated this line of attack anywhere from the PAP. Please SDP (and the other heavy weight opp parties) no more caught being unawares…

    • 52 V 26 April 2011 at 16:13

      This may be correct for Holland-Bukit Timah.
      But i am not sure if they are taking into account all the votes they are going to lose in other constituencies because of dirty politics.
      VB is seen as representative of his entire party, whereas there is only one VW standing in H-BT to win them the conservative vote. At the very most the other SDP teams may suffer a minor dip in support, but if i was a gambling person this would seem like a bad deal overall.

      • 53 Gazebo 26 April 2011 at 22:18

        ST still has not covered at all SDP’s reply as of 26th April, 2217 hrs, Singapore time.

      • 54 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 22:59

        No, I was mistaken in my earlier comment (16:06h). ST did cover it. There’s a blurb on the front page and a full page on page A7 about the war of words, divided into three stories. SDP’s reply video is mentioned.

  34. 55 singapore4all@hotmail.com 26 April 2011 at 15:24

    A Canadian friend reminded me of these words famously uttered by Pierre Trudeau as Justice Minister (later Prime Minister), in 1967 (on the 100th anniversary year of Canada’s confederation) which are truly apt for this very sad display of gutterism:

    “It’s certainly the most extensive revision of the Criminal Code since the 1950s and, in terms of the subject matter it deals with, I feel that it has knocked down a lot of totems and over-ridden a lot of taboos and I feel that in that sense it is new. It’s bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society I think. Take this thing on homosexuality. I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. I think that what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter, or when it relates to minors this is a different matter.”

    Just in case you missed it, the gist is “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

  35. 56 deborah 26 April 2011 at 15:58

    i think it is possible that it was uploaded earlier and the video description to be more sensational changed the PAP announcement.

  36. 57 Page 26 April 2011 at 15:59

    I believe that Dr Vivian should just watch the video carefully before attacking anyone. If the PAP has an A-team and a clean government, should personal attacks not be used since people will be convinced of their abilities and will naturally vote for them? People supported the PAP due to their ability to govern, but now I guess they are losing that ability due to the increased ability of the opposition.

  37. 58 Tay 26 April 2011 at 17:25

    After reading all these comments, I feel like I need to have a say in this issue as well.

    Having schooled in the ‘elite’ schools in the Holland-Bukit Timah area – RGPS and RGS, and very much still connected to the area, I’d like to point out that unless you have no mind of your own and easily judge a person or is ‘rattled’ by a person’s sexual orientation, and not looking at his real intent of wanting to serve the community and the people, anyone can see that VB is obviously being a snake in this whole saga. Calling himself a christian, did the bible not say then ‘judge not lest you be judged’ why does it seem that some of you are judging Vincent base on his sexual orientation and not on his quick-witted brilliant mind?

    Also, regardless of the agenda to be propose (and I am sure it will definitely not be self-serving like that of the PAP), for the parents of children in the schools in this area, if what LKY says is true and that some people are just born the way they are, and if your children have brilliant minds of their own, can they not discern for themselves what is right and what is wrong? that everyone has human rights and should not be subvert to ostracising a person cos of his sexual orientation, but look at the bigger picture of the nasty underhand tactics of a money-minded politician?

    I hope everyone can see in this saga that this is merely a distraction, albeit a dirty one, for the public to forget about the impending issues such as housing, inflation, influx of foreigners etc. Let’s not forget the main issue that the PAP has yet to be transparent on issues pressed by the public and are the ones hiding from coming out in the open instead.

    • 59 laïcité 26 April 2011 at 19:18

      Having also been schooled in the Holland-Bukit Timah area, my primary concern is the ability of conservative Christians (especially considering that VB is from the elite and influential Barker Road Methodist Church) to rally with their Christian brother and vote for him, regardless of any personal opinion about politics. VB has shrewdly turned this into an issue of (Christian) morality and fearmongering.

      Of course I’m not saying that Christians are not able to form their own opinions and decide for themselves. But the truth is that the herd mentality is still present and will undoubtedly influence some, if not most of them to vote for their “own kind”.

  38. 60 Uncle-lim 26 April 2011 at 18:02

    Dr Vivian’s message is, if you’re gay, you can’t be a serious office bearer.

    If that’s not discrimination, what is?

    And what’s the place of meritocracy in all this? Why do they always use dirty tactics to undermine opposition candidates, and not have the balls to rise up and challenge them based on merits?

  39. 61 sloo 26 April 2011 at 21:56

    And yes I do know a PAP MP who was gay and was an army pal. After his breakup to another guy he went on to higher things, got hitched (to a woman) and is now happily playing politics. For the longest time, even through the AWARE saga and all the crap hurled against the LBGT, I saw no point in releasing this information. But Viv simply brought out the worst in me.

    So before you point your filthy fingers to others, check out your own backside ooops! backyard.

  40. 62 TrollBasher 26 April 2011 at 23:01

    Holland-Bukit Timah GRC has a little bit of Holland and almost none of Bukit Timah proper. It’s a typical misnomer. The bulk of the voters are still rank-and-file Singaporeans from Ghim Moh, a portion of Clementi, Toh Tuck, and a part of Bukit Panjang Town. There are quite a few condos in the area, but how many of those condo dwellers are Singaporean and how many of those are staunch evangelicals? Staunch evangelicals wouldn’t vote for the opposition in any case. And since voting is compulsory, there’s no need whatsoever to “mobilize” them. It’s a disgusting personal attack not designed to win votes, but simply to distract attention. I’m personally inclined to think that VB has miscalculated terribly. He unwittingly helped many Singaporeans to question their irrational homophobia and understand that this homophobia is, well, irrational. That said, even LKY wouldn’t stoop so low. And I don’t intend this to be a compliment to LKY. No wonder none of the ministers are coming up to support VB.

  41. 63 Anon 26 April 2011 at 23:18

    During the YOG, VB went around to all the stadiums and instructed the venue managers to let in the spectators earlier than the stated gate opening times. This irked the CEO whose position is that the VMs know what is best on the ground to decide when the gates should be opened. This is hearsay of course…

  42. 64 yawningbread 26 April 2011 at 23:49

    I have a feeling that from now on, there will be next to no more mention of this saga in the mainstream media. Total blackout will be imposed if at all possible, as if it never happened.

  43. 65 stngiam 27 April 2011 at 00:40

    The other half of this story is VB’s accusation that SDP tried to suppress the video. My original hypothesis had been that an anti-gay group had inflitrated the meeting to take video of the event. Thanks to Criticalist’s tip and the wonders of google, I managed to find references to youtube videos of the event posted by a groyn88. The videos were originally titled “M. Ravi speaks about his upcoming challenge to the constitutionality of Section 377A” and were in 3 parts, adding up to 37 minutes. All 3 videos had been removed by user, however.

    Groyn88 has two youtube channels on homosexuality and transgender issues in Singapore. From the looks of the videos on the site, he is filming various gay events openly and with the knowledge of the participants. It is highly unlikely that he is a spy. The question for him then, would be why he took down the videos and whether this was at SDP’s behest. The next question would be whether he could re-release the videos to establish the amount of editing that JohnTan8888 did.

    Several mysteries remain, though. The sammyboy post looks like an email message sent by “Rowbox” on Nov 29 to a group list. Who is Rowbox, what was his/her intent in distributing the video ? Who is JohnTan8888 ? Why did he have the foresight to download the 3 youtube videos before they were removed ? Was he intending to repackage them for effect all along, and just lucked out that groyn88 took down the videos subsequently so that the PAP could now claim that the SDP tried to suppress the videos ? What was Greenlight, the sammyboy poster’s role in this ? Or is JohnTan8888’s video completely different from groyn88’s ?

    This is starting to sound like a political thriller. My working hypothesis remains that JohnTan8888 acted independently of the PAP in first editing the videos to come up with his attack on Wijeyasingha, but somehow fed it to VB who took the bait.

    If the doctored video was in fact edited under VB’s direction, then he would be guilty of political malpractice on the order of the Watergate burglaries. But even if he only chose to use a smear that had been presented to him, without bothering to fact-check, he would still be guilty of gross misjudgement which disqualifies him from ministerial office.

    • 66 Robox 27 April 2011 at 04:05

      @stngiam:

      The only “Rowbox” I am aware is myself, though it is a nick that has been in disuse for close to a year now, I think. (My original in Delphi – old SBF, specifically – was “Robox” but it was banned. But my “Rowbox” nick was on not on sammyboy but 3in1kopitiam, where it is now “Roboxxx” – three “x’s”. (There have been two impostors on Delphi, “Roboxx” – two “x’s” – and “ROBOX”.)

      I did post the original video in 3in1kopitiam after someone posted it on TOC at the time of Ravi’s court challenge on the legality of S377a, and reported in TOC. I did it our of fear that we could have been sitting on a time bomb that could explode in the way it is now, and that was my attempt to defuse it. But it turned out to be a non-issue in 3in1kopitiam.

      I have nothing to do with the new SBF, or any email message sent Nov 29 to a group list.

    • 67 Tony 28 April 2011 at 02:31

      The PAP has a large team of “volunteers” managing their Cyber campaign. The John Tan fellow is most probably a member of this team. The name Johntan is also present in other forum repeating pro-PAP posting over and over again as if these were fixed templates regardless of what the exact nature of the discussions were.

      One of the site I can recall of hand is the Singapore Election Watch where a Moulmein resident write about his unpleasant encounter with Minister Lui Tuck Yew during the Minister’s walkabout.

  44. 68 Freeman 27 April 2011 at 00:43

    For such a hot topics, the people can forgive for the time being but they cannot forget so easily. The person who starts playing with fire has got himself burned. The snow ball gets bigger as it rolls. The only thing the main stream media can do now if perhaps fire fighting and slow down the rolling snow ball

  45. 69 incywincy 27 April 2011 at 00:54

    It’s a sad day for Singapore politics. I only expect this kind of news to come from across the Causeway. What happened to the “civility” urged by SM Goh and “humility” expoused by PM Lee? PAP governs well, but come election time, they tend to shoot themselves on the foot, or to quote a former lady politician, “score an own goal”.

  46. 70 overseas 27 April 2011 at 04:10

    not a peep from the pap ministers all day. their campaign has obviously been crippled! Would love to know how they eventually respond – if at all.

    In 2006 when LHL made his infamous ‘fix the opposition’ speech and had to subsequently apologise, the PAP toned down their approach significantly. Unfortunately by then it was only a few days to Polling Day so the opposition couldn’t seize on it/it didn’t play out in voters’ minds as much.

    Now, they’ve attempted to start a long-drawn assassination a la Gomez and Chee, but social media has effectively forced it to shut down within 24 hours – and it isn’t even Nomination Day yet. 9 days is a long time for voters to reflect on the crap they’ve tried to pull…

    Ultimately, Vivian may well still win thanks to support from his BRMC buddies – but it’s Pyrrhic. The PAP as a whole will suffer an islandwide backlash from the gay and liberal vote (all educated and connected so they know the online reactions), with no corresponding surge from conservatives in support in non-SDP wards. WP will be laughing all the way to the bank with this – we’re looking at, what, at least a 5% swing?

    I hope whoever is responsible realises that they’ve effectively chosen to protect a feckless, inept, out-of-touch MCYS minister (how ironic given what he’s done) possibly at the expense of a worthy man like George Yeo. Sad day for Singapore indeed.

  47. 71 Aurvandil 27 April 2011 at 05:49

    In the reply to VV’s press release, the SDP issued a youtube. In that youtube, SDP questioned VV on the YOG spending and asked VV to release the YOG accounts. VV had spent a huge amount of money and there are a lot of unanswered questions. Previously, Goh Meng Seng of the NSP had done the following youtube to put the YOG spending in perspective to the problems currently faced by Singapore.

  48. 72 Robox 27 April 2011 at 09:09

    YB, have we considered the following facts?

    In October 2007 in Parliament, THREE PAP MPs, all of whom have been presumed to be heterosexual since they can hide behind their heterosexual ‘marriages’, spoke up against the retention of S377a, though I still continue to believe that, because of the ground reactions from gays and our supporters – public anger – it was purely a strategic move to paint the PAP as a party that is heterogenous and not uniformly antigay nor pro-Christian.

    Yet, none of the three PAP MPs were called upon to ‘be upfront about their political agenda and motives, so that voters are able to make an informed choice’, according to the words in Vivian Balakrishnan’s, Christopher d’ Souza’s, Liang Eng Hwa’s, and Sim Ann’s joint hate-laced statement. And neither were they called upon to state if they, to use the words of the same poisonous statement ‘will now pursue this cause in the political arena’.

    And that’s because they are all presumably straight.

    Ditto for Straight Man Siew Kum Hong.

    The RP has now categorically stated that it will speak up for the repeal of S377a. But with no known gay candidate standing for elections, they too have been spared what the vicious Christian campaign has demanded: Be upfront about their political agenda and motives, so that voters are able to make an informed choice AND whether the RP too will now pursue this cause in the political arena.

    Again, it’s all because the candidates being fielded by the RP are presumably straight.

    So why is this challenge by Vivian Balakrishnan, the PAP’s Minister of ‘Community’ who sows communal discord, and his team of toxic individuals, being issued only to the SDP and because one of their candidates has been presumed to be gay?

    Can gay rights in Singapore only be fought for under the auspices of heterosexual charity?

    How different would a gay rights challenge by a man presumed to be gay be from men presumed to be straight? Are the law-based arguments going to be different if fought for by men presumed to be straight as opposed to if they were fought for by a man presumed to be gay? Can a man presumed to be gay from a party that is only fielding 11 candidates and even if all the 11 were elected, have the power to initiate debates on parliamentary bills or amendments, when it is with the highest probability that if he or his colleagues were elected, they cannot form the next government, much less the Executive that initiates – for the majority part – debates on parliamentary bills or amendments?

    Private members’ bills which is the only power that 11 SDP candidates will have, from what I understand, can only be at the pleasure of the Executive.

    Can a man presumed to be gay, if he is elected, from a party that is only fielding 11 candidates outvote the remaining 76 members of the House no matter how compelling his arguments in the House are?


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