Two things struck me when I looked at my Facebook home page this morning. The first was a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) blogpost titled Are SDP posters being taken down? which began thus: “A resident at the Yuhua SMC alerted us to a lorry that was removing SDP posters (pictured) while leaving the PAP’s alone.” It goes further to say that a similar report came from Bukit Panjang where Alec Tok is contesting on behalf of the party.
It so happens that a few days ago, while walking the street near my home in Yuhua, I had taken a photo of a lamppost with People’s Action Party (PAP) and SDP posters. Seeing that report, I rushed out of my home (wearing my T-shirt inside out without knowing it!) to that same place to check if the SDP poster was still up. I’m glad to report it is, as are other SDP posters along the street (though I don’t have ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the others).
May I suggest that concerned citizens should do likewise? Take ownership of the few lampposts outside your front door and snap pictures with your cellphone of posters on them as of today. If any poster goes missing, snap the lamppost again. We need to do our part to ensure a fair electoral contest.
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The other thing that struck me was also an SDP blogpost. It reported a pastoral message from Archbishop Nicholas Chia of the Roman Catholic Church. On the face of it, it is a neutral message, but its choice of references leaves one wondering about where it is pointing. For example, its second paragraph says:
When Jesus returned to Jerusalem, he was greeted first by adoring crowds waving palm branches, and then, as we know, the mood turned. People became suspicious of this Man who was speaking against the establishment.
A little further on, the seventh and eighth paragraph says:
When considering the issues and the candidates that will represent us in the upcoming election, we as Catholics must reflect on our duty to use our free vote to further the common good while remaining true to the Christian values that Jesus has taught us. Human rights and the dignity of the human person must be respected.
We must also ensure that the poor, the elderly and the marginalised in our society are cared for. Finally, we must protect the beautiful world that God has given us by addressing the impact that our actions have on the environment.
As most will know, for the longest time the SDP has been unrelenting in its message about the need to respect human rights in Singapore. It is precisely this dedication to the cause that has got its leaders into trouble with the PAP government, a “stigma” that still makes people shy away from them, much like how “People became suspicious of this Man who was speaking against the establishment.”
Focus on the Family Singapore, a local extension of rabidly rightwing American political Christianity, is still jumping up and down over the gay issue. In an article on its website titled Values-based voting, it says:
. . . we have put together questions to assist you in this decision-making process. We hope you will find them helpful as you choose the candidates who best represent your beliefs, convictions and values.
And then it asks readers to judge candidates on several criteria, among which are:
Does the candidate support/oppose. . . . the traditional view of marriage?
. . . the expansion of avenues for vices (eg, gambling, prostitution)?
. . . the belief that human life begins at conception, and should be protected until natural death?
Yes, you saw it. It urges voters to support candidates who are against the supposed “gay agenda”, casinos and a ban on abortion.
On the first issue, it must be dismayed that a poll taken by the New Paper (published 26 April 2011) of “100 people of various ages, races and religions” found that more than three to one had no issue with it. The question asked was “Would you mind if your MP is gay?” 76% said they wouldn’t mind.
Ah, but not all evangelicals think like Focus on the Family, said a friend who emailed me.
In the heat of last week’s attack by the PAP on SDP’s Vincent Wijeysingha, an email was circulated in which one guidance statement said:
Pray against tearing down of personalities during this General Election, but instead to focus on policy issues.
Then, in an oblique reference to the failings of Vivian Balakrishnan’s Ministry for Community, Youth and Sports, (MCYS), another guidance statement said:
Pray that the MCYS/ NCSS will not only be concerned of the quantity of work but the quality of work provided by the social service sector.
Balakrishnan was leading the smear campaign against Wijeysingha, but his ministry has long been criticised for being niggardly with social assistance. NCSS stands for National Council of Social Services, which comes under the same ministry.
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A friend of mine accompanied a candidate on a constituency walkabout recently (I won’t name the party as it is not relevant to the story). Walkabouts are part of the retail politics that can make a difference in the campaign. At this walkabout was a new volunteer, who asked my friend whether any of this party’s candidates were Christian.
My friend named a few.
She replied: “It comforts me to know that there are leaders of faith in the party.”