Three statements from the government, Function 8 and Maruah on the archbishop affair

Three press statements were issued on Thursday, 20 September 2012, and I am archiving them here for the record. [Addendum: I am also archiving two more statements that came out on later Friday 21 Sept or Saturday 22 September 2012] . However, I will begin with a short commentary on the statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. This ministry includes within it the Internal Security Department. Teo Chee Hean (mentioned in Lunch menu a 4-point letter) is the minister with oversight of this ministry.

The first thing you would notice is that the second paragraph of this statement is consistent with my account of events that mentioned a lunch meeting with the Archbishop. In fact, with so many statements flying around, it is indeed notable that none deny the sequence of events that I have published.

This Home Affairs statement makes an accusation — a “deliberate breach of the Archbishop’s trust” by Function 8 — that is clearly illogical. As Function 8 points out in its statement (below) the original letter was not marked “private” or “confidential”. My sources tell me that a subsequent communication from the Archbishop was that while the contents of the letter should not be read out at the rally, the organisers were free to announce to the crowd that they had received a letter in support from the Archbishop. The precise wording of Home Affairs’ statement however referred to “his views and intentions as conveyed to the group after he had decided to retract his letter” (emphasis mine), and indeed, it seems to me that it is for this reason that Function 8 has not published the letters.

However, how can one be certain of the archbishop’s “views and intentions” when authorship of the retraction letter was so unconvincing? In my Lunch menu a 4-point letter, I gave reasons why there is doubt whether the 4-point  retraction letter was even written by the archbishop himself, or willingly signed by him.

Function 8 has now called upon the archbishop to publish those letters.

But more seriously, the general thrust of the government’s statement is dangerous to the public good, for it is trying to to deflect scrutiny away from themselves by casting Function 8 as villains (on their assumption that it was they who leaked the story). Taking the cue, reporters Thursday afternoon kept asking me to identify my sources, like hounds unleashed for a hunt. I have refused, for to do so would be a public disservice since it would mean putting the spotlight exactly where the government wants it — on the whistleblowers.

(Note: I am not suggesting that the whistleblowers are Function 8 members. As I told reporters, I was hardly the first person outside the circle of organisers to know of the affair. I could have been the hundredth person to hear of it. Lots of people, in the archbishop’s staff, his senior circle of priests, a retired Supreme Court judge and ministry officials, apparently knew of the letters and the events way before me. It was relatively easy for me to get corroboration of the story from additional sources.)

If you read my first post on this subject carefully, you will see that the party which should explain itself is not Function 8, but the government. Why did it act in the highly opaque way that it did? Even Today newspaper could see that the chief point of my exposé of the events was to draw public attention to “the Government’s ‘arm-twisting’ of Archbishop Nicholas Chia.”

I urge my readers to be very clear about this: The issue is not Function 8 or even Nicholas Chia. The issue is the way the government stepped in to block the latter’s support for the rally using methods hardly different from 25 years ago. Don’t let the government deflect attention away from itself. They are the ones who need to answer to the people for their actions.

MHA’s Statement on Archbishop Nicholas Chia’s Comments

The Government values its long-standing relationship with the Catholic Church and the Catholic community in Singapore, and deeply appreciates Archbishop Nicholas Chia’s many contributions to religious harmony in Singapore.

2   As part of building trust and understanding and to maintain religious harmony in Singapore, government ministers meet regularly with various religious leaders in Singapore. Such closed-door meetings allow a frank exchange of views specially on sensitive subjects. This is a well-established process that is appreciated by both ministers and religious leaders.

3   We note Archbishop Chia’s statement yesterday that he had withdrawn his earlier letter as its contents did not accurately reflect his views on the subject. He also expressed concern that if the letter was used in a manner that he did not intend, it may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore. His decision to withdraw his letter ahead of a political event in June 2012, shows his appreciation of the complexity of our multi-racial, multireligious society, and the need to keep religion and politics separate.

4    The actions by this group to publicise the matter through Mr Au is disrespectful of the Archbishop, and contrary to his views and intentions as conveyed to the group after he had decided to retract his letter. This deliberate breach of the Archbishop’s trust confirms the objective of this group to publicly involve the Catholic Church and the Archbishop in their political agenda.

Issued by
Ministry Of Home Affairs

* * * * *

The statement from Function 8:

We are deeply saddened by the comments of Archbishop Nicholas Chia reported in The Straits Times of 20th September 2012. He made three unsubstantiated remarks:

1. That Mr Au’s account (in Yawningbread) could only have come from Function 8, with whom he had communicated in private.

2. That he decided to withdraw his letter of support “because if the letter were to be used in a manner that I (Archbishop) did not intend, it may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore.”

3. That Mr Au’s article appearing now, months later, “confirms the correctness of my (Archbishop’s) earlier decision to withdraw the letter so as not to inadvertently embroil the Catholic Church and the office of the Archbishop in a political event which was being staged by the group.”

Our response is as follows:

1. Archbishop Nicholas Chia’s initial letter to us, and the subsequent one withdrawing the first letter, were not marked “private and/or confidential”. Indeed, in discussing his first letter, members of Function 8 concluded that it was intended to be made public on 2 June 2012, the 25th anniversary of Operation Spectrum. The retraction of the first letter made us cancel the plan. The organisers of the 2 June event subsequently decided that we would try to have a private dialogue with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

2. Archbishop Nicholas Chia assumed that Mr Au could only have obtained an account of what he wrote in his article from Function 8. Has His Grace forgotten that his second letter was cc to a third party and that his staff and others within the Church may also have sight of the letters?

3. What was his initial letter intended for and what are the unintended manners in which it could possibly be used to ‘harm the social harmony in Singapore’?

4. Finally, we do not understand how His Grace can draw the conclusion that the disclosure of his own letter can “inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore” and that the fact that Mr Au has now written an article confirms the correctness of his earlier decision to withdraw the letter.

In the midst of a national conversation called by the prime minister, we believe there is no room for whispered meetings on the issues above. We request Archbishop Nicholas Chia to publish his first and second letters and advise on what transpired between the time his first letter was written and his second letter so that the public can judge for themselves whether the actions or inaction of Function 8 and Mr Au were “irresponsible and regrettable”. For clarity, His Grace should also make known to members of the public if his first letter to the organisers of the 2 June event was solicited or unsolicited.”

* * * * * *

The statement from Maruah:

MARUAH, a human rights NGO, is a partner with Function 8, in particular for the June 2nd 2012 event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the alleged Marxist Conspiracy. MARUAH’s position is that it is timely for a Commission of Inquiry to be set up to review the detentions under Operation Spectrum.

As part of this collaborative effort MARUAH was informed of the letters that the Archbishop had sent to Function 8 and we are aware of the contents. The letters reflect diverse views on key content areas in relation to preventive detention without trial. Both organisations made a decision not to publicise the letter(s) till we sought clarifications from Ministry of Home Affairs and other relevant parties. This decision was taken as we feel it is a better way forward as both organisations are mindful of the previous pain within the Catholic community over what happened in 1987 where the Church, the government, the detainees and the community were involved. We agreed that after these approaches to reach out for dialogues had been tried and tested we would review this incident of the letters. It is unfortunate that the matter of the letters was leaked to the media before we could receive clarifications from the relevant bodies. Both organisations had wanted to focuson seeking a dialogue rather than dealing with the Archbishop’s letters a public manner through the media.

Having said that, MARUAH has to state that we are deeply disappointed with the remarks of the Archbishop in his response to the media queries. An opportunity to understand the change in the position of the Archbishop vis-a-vis preventive detention without trial was missed. We are still clueless as to whether there was intervention by the State in this matter and if so, on what grounds and to what extent. Instead civil society has been vilified in the Archbishop’s remarks which are the opposite of our intentions to preserve harmony by seeking clarifications.

Nevertheless, it is more important to move forward. We are keen to have dialogue with the Ministry of Home Affairs on our ongoing efforts at public education and advocacy on preventive detentions without trial. We will also be very happy to meet the Archbishop in relation to this matter.

More importantly, it is very important to us, and to many other Singaporeans that an independent Commission of Inquiry be set up as we are perturbed by the many contradictions in this case. This was the work that began on June 2nd between MARUAH and Function 8, to ensure that the rights of those detained are protected and fulfilled through an inquiry.

Braema Mathi
MARUAH Singapore”

* * * * *


Reply by the Archdiocese office to Function 8’s statement:

The Archbishop’s statement on 19 September made clear that he had already withdrawn his letter to this group as, on reflection, its contents did not accurately reflect his views on the subject, and if used in a manner that he did not intend, may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore.

His letter to this group was intended as a private communication. If the group was going to publicise it at a political event, something which he did not intend, then they should and could easily have asked for permission first. They did not do so. As the group has already returned his letter, the question of releasing it does not arise as he had never intended for it to be released in the first place.

* * * * *

Reply by Function 8, 21 September 2012

We refer to the press release of MHA of 20 Sep 2012. MHA alleged that Function 8 is disrespectful towards Archbishop Nicholas Chia of the Catholic Church. This is untrue. The allegations have attempted to set F8 against the church. The Archbishop had withdrawn the letter sent to the organisers of the commemoration event of Operation Spectrum. To date, as far as we know, this letter has not surfaced in public. We have obviously respected the wishes of the head of the Catholic Church by not publicizing the contents of his letters.

In our response dated 1 June 2012 to the letter of withdrawal by His Grace, we sought his clarifications over several questions: How did he come to the conclusion that there is an ulterior motive to use his unsolicited letter outside of the event? Doesn’t justice require a hearing from all sides? And should we copy our letter to the person who was copied in his letter of withdrawal?

More than three months have passed and we have not heard from the Archbishop.

Out of respect for His Grace, we had voluntarily not publicized our letter of response to his letter of withdrawal, and had hoped for the courtesy of a reply from him in due course. However, MHA’s unwarranted allegations have now forced us to show details of our letter to the Archbishop in order to clear the allegations against us. This letter is reluctantly attached with parts blacked out to protect the direct contents of the Archbishop’s original letter and the identity of the person who was copied in his letter of withdrawal.

MHA further claimed that Function 8 had publicised the matter through blogger Alex Au. This is untrue. At no time did we engage Mr Au on this matter. To suggest that a seasoned blogger like Mr Au was made use of, is an insult to him and to the freedom of internet discourse.

We believe in the government’s sincerity to generate a meaningful national conversation at this time. MHA said that “government ministers meet regularly with religious leaders in Singapore”. We hope that they would also engage civil society groups for “frank exchange of views especially on sensitive subjects”. We hope this ‘national’ conversation can be conducted with dignity and civility over tea and certainly not through the national papers. We continue to request a meaningful dialogue with MHA and other affected parties away from the noise of what has turned into an ugly public dispute.

We wish to state categorically that we continue to applaud the Catholic Church for her good work carried out in our society to uphold social justice, caring for the poor and the weak. At no time will we allow ourselves to be set against the Church by inappropriate and unjustified allegations by any party.

* * * * *


49 Responses to “Three statements from the government, Function 8 and Maruah on the archbishop affair”

  1. 1 ricardo 21 September 2012 at 03:21

    The facts are simple.

    Just as in 1987, a church leader (and the church in 1987) spoke out publicly against injustice & crimes committed by the Rich & Powerful; the (ab)use of detention and torture without trial for personal & political ends.

    The church leader is invited for a meal by the Rich & Powerful and miraculously retracts his statement.

    We are NOT in a position to comment on his courage or integrity as few of us have been lucky enough to attract the personal attention of the head of the Min. of Love. Even the Apostle Peter retracted thrice.

    But this is a clear warning to the unwashed masses (us), that the Min. of Love is as effective as ever in suppressing any comment by religions, venomous or otherwise, or indeed anyone else, on crimes & injustices committed by the Rich and Powerful.

    This is timely as some people misguidedly think the ‘National Conversation’ might be a move towards greater equality and social harmony.

    The Holy Alliance of the Ministries of Truth & Love tell us in no uncertain terms, that there can be no discussion of (or even conversation about) History as ‘corrected’ by the Min. of Truth.

    Social Harmony can only be maintained by keeping quiet about crimes & injustices committed by the Rich & Powerful.

    • 2 Yoomansg 23 September 2012 at 12:00

      Very apt comment indeed as we can draw similar comparison of His Grace’s reaction to the issue with Peter’s denials. They were denials with progressive impunity as quoted from the book of Matthew:

      Mat 26:33 Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!”
      ** His Grace’s unsoliticted letter of support to Function8.

      Mat 26:69-70 Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard when one of the High Priest’s servant women came to him and said, “You, too, were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it in front of them all. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he answered,
      ** His Grace agreed to be acknowledged for his support but the content of letter not to be read out.

      Mat 26:71-72 and went on out to the entrance of the courtyard. Another servant woman saw him and said to the men there, “He was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it and answered, “I swear that I don’t know that man!”
      ** His Grace decided to withdraw his letter after reflecting on it

      Mat 26:73-74 After a little while the men standing there came to Peter. “Of course you are one of them,” they said. “After all, the way you speak gives you away!”
      Then Peter said, “I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know that man!”
      ** His Grace said that it is most regrettable that Au and the group have acted in this manner.

      Mat 26:74 Just then a rooster crowed.
      ** And then the Alex Bread yawned, waking up a community of more than 100,000 followers who were somehow made half-asleep since 1987.

  2. 3 MayL 21 September 2012 at 04:31

    “The Government values its long-standing relationship with the Catholic Church and the Catholic community in Singapore…”

    Does this refer to the interrogation sessions in a cold rooms where detainees are made to stand for long stretches of time?

  3. 4 yuen 21 September 2012 at 05:35

    with all these news items swirling around getting everyone excited, I prefer to remember again the report about lee-yong meeting 1987, and recommend it to others:

    archbishop yong went to see PM lee (whether invited there or on his own initiative I do not know) to express the church’s concern about the arrests; when the talk finished, PM lee told him the reporters were waiting outside to hear his views, and he agreed to be interviewed though reluctantly – archbishop yong later told his church associates that he felt “cornered” and did not see how the press interview could be avoided – and among various things, he said the arrests did not indicate the government was against his church, which was understood by the reporters to be a kind of exoneration; his use of “cornered” later, on the other hand, was understood to be a kind of complaint, which he then had to deny;

    as far as I can read into it, yong’s hand with the press was weakened by these two episodes

  4. 7 Anon ppE6 21 September 2012 at 08:12

    MHA’s statement seems deliberately crafted to hide the crucial truth. Apparently, it was only a normal, regular meeting which government holds periodically with religious leaders. And so, presumably, the whole twisting and turning affair – of the Archbishop’s voluntary offering of that first letter (despite longstanding church policy, he claims, not to involve in polilitics, which surely means he must have painstakingly deliberated to make the letter an exception to the rule?), and his subsequent, so soon after careful thought and, surely, prayers, retracting of that, first only to ask that the letter be not read but only announced, and then, just as quickly, to change again, asking it should not even be mentioned – has all been personal mental agonies of the Archbishop’s own making, unaffected by any out-of-the-ordinary discourse at that usual, casual lunch meeting!

    And so, as a Scripture says, “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways”? (Epistle of James)

  5. 8 Robox 21 September 2012 at 08:23

    Part 1

    Hi Alex,

    You ended off your article, “Lunch menu a 4-point letter” with the question, “What do you think?”. I assume you meant, “What any of your readers think about any of the points you made in that article, which included a comparison between the embroilment of the Catholic Church in the ‘Marxist conspiracy’ and the AWARE episode.

    Then, my reading in “What the archbishop did not intend” was that this matter was still inconclusive to you. (Do correct me if I am wrong on that count.)

    But it is to your first question that this post a response to. Still I am posting it here for greater visibility, but as you yourself might conclude, no matter which article to which I post this comment, it is relevant to any and all of them.

    But my starting point is, as it often is *secularism*, which in Singapore – and ONLY in Singapore, and ONLY for the sake of the PAP government’s political expediency – is spoken of (note that I am not saying “defined as”) as if it were that “religion/s should not involve themselves in politics”, which to me is a grossly inadequate definition (or explanation) of secularism.

    Once again, *secularism” is *the SEPERATION of church AND State”, and what that equally means is that the State has no business dictating a faith’s beliefs to that faith body. The only exceptions to State involvement are:

    1. when there is a violation of any aspect of the functioning of the State, which includes the public institution we know as the Law; and/or,

    2. when there is a call to it.

    In the case of the AWARE episode, the ire that was expressed was not by the PAP government, but ordinary Singaporeans – LGBT and otherwise – who viewed the matter in the light of S377a. But the most overlooked aspect of that episode was that the coup staged by the members of the church involved was in fact a contravention of the Societies Act, which was raised in the now defunct Temasek Review.

    Secularism WAS very clearly and unabiguously breached.

    But the PAP government refused to step into the matter – that’s important conclusion #1.

  6. 9 Robox 21 September 2012 at 08:31

    Part 2

    When the Catholic Church was implicated in the ‘Marxist Conspiracy’, neither of the above conditions were violated, hence, the ongoing probing about what exactly happened then and what the government’s motives were. However, enough of us know the Catholic Church to know about its committment to issues of justice (which btw, is not inconsistent with the Church’s teachings) be that social, economic, legal or political – so long as humans were not served justice, the Church deems it its place to intervene, which in most cases, only means that it makes its stand known without taking it further.

    But wait, social justice is the very anti-thesis of fascism, which also happens to be the political ideology of the ruling party, then as it is now. But fascism is not the State ideology, and no violation of the the State’s functioning occurred either in the ‘Marxist Conspiracy’ or now in the case of the archbishop’s initial letter, and neither was/is there a threat of that happening.

    Ideology and Sate are two very different things!

    If government armtwisting is covertly involved – and I have reason to believe that it does as you will see from my next example – then it is the government that is in breach of secularism because, and as I stated earlier, it is attempting to coerce the Catholic Church into accepting the government’s position which happens to be against the Church’s teachings.

  7. 10 Robox 21 September 2012 at 08:33

    Part 3

    But if we think that is the predicament that only the Catholic Church is in, let me point you out to this article carried just a few days ago in TRE involving the Khrishna Mandir, a Hindu sect more commonly referred to as the Hare Khrishna and that has, like the Catholic Church, a strong social justice bent. (Even in India which is far more tolerant of variations within the larger Hindu faith – a prerequisite in Hinduism, if you ask me – the Hare Krishna, which has a huge worldwide, and especially Western, following (read: “money”) is an annoyance to the central government because it beats the government there in the race to provide the local people with basic amenities like schools and hospitals, causing the people to turn hostile towards the government for its inability to provide for these – votes!)

    The most telling statement in the article above is this one:

    “We were turned down. The reason was that the offered price was too low and at that point of time, there were no plans of giving it to us as there were enough Hindu temples in Singapore.”

    Exactly which are the Hindu temples that the government deems ‘enough’ for Singapore-based Hare Khrisna devotees?

    Why that would be the four HEB-cotrolled ones, the very ones that another social/political activist (and lawyer). M Ravi had run-ins with on the question of caste politics if my understanding is right.

    More on the Hare Krishna, and this time I take those who can remember the case of the Hindu NSF priest who had undertaken a fast unto death because the SAF, after initially allowing him to do, had reversed its position to allow this young priest to keep the his hair-tuft and have vegetarian food delicered to him at his camp, both requirements of his faith.

    Another violation of secularism. By the government.

    There’s more.

    I took the matter up in the REACH website, and lo and behold, was confronted very aggressively by someone who was tring his damn best to run me down the way the government runs its detractors down in direct confrontation. (REACH openly states that it forwards many of the matters raised on its site to the relevant authorities.) At one point, when I managed to exhaust the person who was confronting me – this exchange occurred over several days, and by this time the NSF concerned had suddenly and mysteriously sworn off his fast and stating that ‘the government was right’.)

    Also during that confrontation, the individual let slip a couple of very telling statements, testimony to my probing abilities.

    1. That I don’t know who the NSF’s father, another priest the Mandir, was like (Just what did this have to do with the NSF’s father?); and,

    2. That this was a POLITICAL matter!

    The conclusions I drew were:

    1. The person who confronted me was from the HEB or affiliated to them; and,

    2.. They were harassing the NSF primarily because of his faith affiliation as well as likely run-ins his father might have previously had with HEB or the temples it runs even to the extent of depriving him of his rights.

    Another note: My challenger became highly defensive when I suggested that behind-the-scenes armtwisting had occurred to have cause the NSF to call off his fast. In fact he went completely beserk.

    A final note: The HEB, the tax-funded statutory board – it is NOT a religios body as some characterize it – which is run under the auspices was the same organization that had sought to re-interpret Hindu texts/mythology by decalring that the rowdy scenes one might see at Thaipusam – which many other Hindus see as necessary in the keeping of their devotion – are CRIMINAL acts!

  8. 11 a kind of chicken 21 September 2012 at 09:51

    Dear Alex,

    I have followed your blog for some time. I agree with many of your views ( though perhaps we would disagree on some economic details). You have been a valuable blogger and proponent of alternative views.

    I am aware there is a fine line between over self censorship to become useless and making a strategic decision to avoid over committing to some battles and thus becoming locked up and unavailable to help your country.

    Our country has had enough martyrs. For the sake of our country, as well as for the sake of us who have come to respect and (love?) you, do take care.

    You may be right but the other side is strong. This issue looks very much like a trap to catch you on some obscure technicality that most Singaporeans dun care about. I know it is fundamental to the good of our nation but sadly most Singaporeans do not look beyond their direct need. If you were to fall championing this, I fear you would not be a force well spent.

    I acknowledge that mine is the voice of cowardice. Whatever you choose, you are the better man. Good luck and may fortune go with you.


    • 12 Mike Zeng 22 September 2012 at 07:17

      Three scenarios that would have got Alex Au as well as junction 8 members sued or even arrested and detained under the ISA today in 2012…..

      1 WP lost the Aljunied GRC to PAP last year and the latter thus won all seats except Hougang. Never mind if its overall support was still 60%,
      2 We are still in the 80s or even 90s where the Internet and social media esp Facebook, u-tube, twitter had not been invented yet.
      3 The Arab Spring never occurred and the dictators like Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali are still in-charge.

      Fortunately none of the 3 scenarios actualised keeping our activists pretty safe. It would be the height of unthinking miscalculation for the PAP Govt to return to the dark ages!

  9. 13 K Das 21 September 2012 at 10:20

    Sharp observations from Alex on the manner of action and conduct on the part of the government.

    I must disagree on the inference that as long as the letter is not marked private or confidential, it is not technically wrong to make the letter or its contents public. The context here is important. It is a letter from the Archbishop sent to a private group, whose members should well know that a disclosure of it will have ramifications in the public sphere. Revealing it amounts to breaching the Archbishop’s trust indeed. The group should have obtained his consent before revealing the contents to a third party. It is to be noted that though the Archbishop had indicated in his first letter that his/the Church’s support for the cause and event to be held by the group, could be made public at the rally, he had apparently retracted it with his second letter.

    • 14 yawningbread 21 September 2012 at 13:01

      Except that before the retraction, lots of other people had been told. To then blame people for knowing, speaking and writing about it, or knowing, speaking and writing about the retraction is absurd. It is precisely this attempt to hide something form the public eye when it is a matter of public interest that makes it so fishy.

    • 16 ;ABC 21 September 2012 at 13:42

      Absolute crap. The unsolicited letter was sent to the groups which organised the event apparently in support and without any conditions. What do you say to LKY revealing the contents of Devan Nair`s letter to him with the express wish to have it shredded after reading?

  10. 17 Chow 21 September 2012 at 10:37

    Interesting. They are still so coy after all this, and it is thoroughly unnecessary.

    I still fail to see how anything the Archbishop would have written can affect religious or social harmony in Singapore.

    Initiay, I was undecided but after reading the press statements I can conclude that the Ministry must have twisted the Archbishop’s arm. Someone is obviously still afraid of re-opening the wounds related to these events of yesteryear. We need to keep asking questions. We cannot afford to keep accepting opaqueness and closeness.

    • 18 Alan Wong 21 September 2012 at 18:26

      Exactly. By their own sinister actions, our Govt is seen to be sowing the seeds of social disharmony among its people.

      What is precisely so sensitive about the Church’s support for the abolition of an unjust law that can’t be discussed openly in the public really puzzling me ? What makes our Govt so very afraid ?

      The hard truth that someone in Govt has abused our National laws for his own selfish political interests ?

  11. 19 Jentrified Citizen 21 September 2012 at 10:58

    Reblogged this on Jentrified Citizen and commented:
    The Truth is plain as day and yet the authorities will continue to try to twist the truth and deny its guilt and intervention role in this matter. JC

  12. 20 Nick Lim 21 September 2012 at 11:23

    Thanks Alex for your outstanding level-headedness and calm in handling this issue.Your penetrating deconstruction of the possible scenarios behind the scene is truly admirable. You have done a great service to all Singaporeans!

  13. 21 R Usha 21 September 2012 at 12:09

    It is most disappointing that the two bodies Function 8 and Maruah are pursuing this course of action to create much disharmony in a multi racial and multi religious Singapore. When the world continues to be torn with strife, the least Singaporeans want are organisations like Maruah trying to score points over the issue of detention or no detention with trial. I have full confidence in the actions taken by the Singapore government in 1987, under then PM Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the height of the Marxist conspiracy. The television interviews with all the detained persons is testimony to the fact of their admission of involvement in this conspiracy. And no national conversation is going to change that stance.

    • 22 Anna Ross-Murphy 21 September 2012 at 14:02

      I saw what you did there. Very funny.

    • 23 Lye Khuen Way 21 September 2012 at 15:13

      Sorry, I do not hold your sentiment & trust . Period.

    • 24 Saycheese 21 September 2012 at 15:49

      The confessions were Reality TV’s (before this term was even conceived) most riveting, entertaining, high drama…and people wonder why confessions extracted with inducement or torture are not accepted by a court of law?
      Let the ISD work you over for a few days and you can even be a fanatic convert, believing that LHL is the Supreme Being.

    • 25 Chanel 21 September 2012 at 16:05

      R Usha,

      You really swallowed what the government and its machinery (newspapers and TV) tell you……hook, line and sinker.

      Blind faith is dangerous when the people you are trusting aren’t Gods

    • 26 goop 21 September 2012 at 23:32

      Dear god, are you really that stupid?

    • 28 ricardo 22 September 2012 at 05:32

      And when they retracted their confessions, they were rightly detained again; this time with their lawyers.

      Multi-million Dignity for our Lord LKY, the HoLee Family, their Ministers & friends .. unless you want lunch with DPM Teo or a free holiday from the Min. of Love.

  14. 30 simple 21 September 2012 at 14:24

    What happens if Church does get involved with F8 and takes over F8 and starts articulating anti LGBT agenda?

    Than Govt should step in and arm-twist?

  15. 33 Chanel 21 September 2012 at 16:00

    “…the objective of this group [Function 8] to publicly involve the Catholic Church and the Archbishop in their political agenda.” — MHA

    Ironically, it seems like it is MHA who are using the Church for political purpose.

    “…it may inadvertently harm the social harmony in Singapore.” — MHA

    This sort of “logic” reminds me of when the then minister, Ho Peng Kee, said in Parliament that a cycling event organised by Workers’ Party to make their 50th anniversary (in 2007) was rejected by the police because it could cause public disorder. With this sort of statements, the government is really treating all of us as idiots. Come on MHA. A letter from the Archbishop can harm social harmony?? If that was the case, why doesn’t the government charge His Grace under ISA???

  16. 34 nohope 21 September 2012 at 17:40

    Why do they love making press statements so much? Practice their writing skills? As I recall, this blog has had press statements made for it on a couple of occasions. It was cute at first but now it’s a little sick. Do people/governments elsewhere do this too, with such alacrity?

  17. 35 Anon D250 22 September 2012 at 01:24

    Just shutup and sit down Alex, you are disturbing the peace of my country which I treasure a lot. If u hate it so much, get out.

    • 36 Tan Tai Wei 22 September 2012 at 22:28

      “The peace of (your) country”, were it real peace, wouldn’t be so easily “upset”. There exists a sort of peace such as that of those buried away beneath it all, say, at Chua Chu Kang cemetery. But those are already “out” of any “country” and, therefore, they have no status to ask alert and living citizens, like Alex to “get out”.

    • 37 Chow 22 September 2012 at 23:00

      If you were being cynical, I am tickled. If you really did mean it, I just want to remind you that not everyone is made in your image, or whoever it is that you worship.

  18. 38 Lye Khuen Way 22 September 2012 at 08:13

    The plot thickens with the latest “news” that no letters from the Archbishop will be released !
    I sense that the Archbishop is telling us all by his actions what he cannot say openly.
    The ball is in the MHA’s court……
    What a National CONversation !

  19. 39 yuen 22 September 2012 at 11:20

    sorry to say this: the Archbishop WAS shown much disrespect in this matter, by a number of parties; whether he caused this himself by taking a position expressed in his first letter, which he could not sustain in light of later developments; whether other parties’ “hidden hand” “ulterior motives” etc were more at fault, are all worthy of debate, but it will most probably be inconclusive because of the partisan positions taken by the various parties

    overall, I would say nobody came out of this looking good; whether, as PR people like to claim, any publicity is good publicity, is also a debatable question

    • 40 octopi 22 September 2012 at 16:41

      Agree here. We cannot know the nature of the threat that the DPM made to the archbishop. He could have been twisting his balls, or he could have had a friendly conversation, more of the “tolong tolong lah, don’t do this to me” variety.

      There’s only so much political mileage you can get out of this. After that, it would sound like the PAP making a mountain of a molehill out of James Gomez forgetting to submit a form, or Png Eng Huat’s story about central committee elections.

      • 41 yuen 23 September 2012 at 06:32

        different parties’ objectives: YB wants “hidden hand” revealed, but others dont seem to share the same interest; F8/Maruah are keen to have a dialog with MHA, to talk to the “hidden hand” presumably confidentially; Archbishop wants to focus on the whistle blowing, to keep hidden things hidden; MHA wants to focus on the disrespect, and minimize its own part in this matter

        I guess the forthcoming national conversation would end up in the same kind of fragmentation; there are just too many players and agendas

      • 42 Looes74 23 September 2012 at 08:42

        Isnt it an irony? People ain’t that vigorous in pursuing what actually happen in yaw shin leong affair. Like I say many time, focus on real issues. Don’t waste unnecessary time on this & move on

      • 43 octopi 24 September 2012 at 02:41

        Yuen: you are a computer science guy so you know that as the number of participants in the conversation increases, the number of bilateral relationships increases by O(n^2). Politics is meant to be complicated, and what’s just happened is going to be the norm from now on.

        There’s nothing wrong with this episode. But things have been said, points have been scored, so let’s move on. There’s nothing wrong with politicking because that’s how things work in a real democracy. But it’s only a problem when things get stuck.

        It is not true that this is not a real issue. The ISD is a real issue.

  20. 44 Kelvind Kao 23 September 2012 at 04:46

    Something you might want to read and reflect on.

    Lyrics of the Video on “YES TO YOU”

    “Silence is Golden but there’s a time to speak,
    And there are those shouting their views, but their arguments are weak
    Let me get this out there and make it simple and plain
    I never knew of anyone who found freedom from a hate speech in Jesus name
    Reckless pastors, who judge, condemn and leave a soul to feel alone
    Called to shepherd God’s people, not cast the first stone
    And other leaders do no favors by cowardly choosing silence
    They fail to speak the truth, and offer no guidance
    A culture full of tension over the issue so where does that leave us?
    Somewhere between awkward silence and gay bashing in the name of Jesus
    And in the middle stands truth, a truth that can set us free
    A God that calls us out of darkness to embrace our true identity
    In a culture that glorifies sex and puts pleasure before all else
    Is God the source of your identity or is it your sexual self?
    And how do we identify and not accept a lie
    Because sexual desire is just one piece of the pie
    Identity is a choice a lifestyle is something you embrace
    Same sex Attraction doesn’t define you and can be set in place.
    A movement with semantics aimed to change and sway
    There needs to be clarification when using the word gay
    Does it mean one has attractions or that they choose to act them out?
    Truth says there is a difference in the two that must be brought about
    God loves you the way you are and the truth can set you free
    There is a difference between unchosen sexual attraction and chosen identity
    In marriage two become one flesh, open to life for propagation
    Two of the same in union can’t reach this fulfillment of God’s creation
    Nature or Nurture you didn’t choose this struggle
    The Church understands and will walk with you in times of trouble
    The same Church that says no when we fail to keep our sexual selves in check
    Is the same Church that says no when others try to take your respect
    You never are alone and the Church offers you a home as it stand for what is true.
    Although the Church says no to gay marriage it still says Yes to you.”

    Fr. Claude (Dusty) Burns
    Aka Pontifex

  21. 45 Rushifa A Rushifa A 23 September 2012 at 08:31

    The entire saga was screwed up in so many ways.

    A religious leader shows his true colors. When the wind blows, his sense of decency and moral outrage dissipates like the seeds of a dandelion. And he is supposed to be the core of morality for his followers?

    A self proclaimed first world government sends a highly positioned official to browbeat said leader into retracting his unsolicited letter of support. This plays like a scene from a mafia movie.
    The event? Remembering the Gestapo style arrest and detention of citizens without trial, longest being 20 years. One really wonders what hold they have over him for such absolute control to be exerted.

    Threats of an investigation now loom. Very familiar ground indeed. I feel like a Russian being reminded of the tactics of the KGB. Fellow countrymen, please always remind yourselves this is the monster that is under your beds. It does not draw attention. It likes to be forgotten It is always lurking. And it will get anyone at anytime at its pleasure

  22. 46 blackops 23 September 2012 at 08:40

    some thoughts:

    1. won’t call anyone associated with this event the brightest bulb in the room.

    2. but then again, the central figures in the story aren’t particularly known for their intelligence. i, for one, don’t particular care what any of the main characters think. the isd is framed as a social justice issue. look, it is far more complex than that. unfortunately, there are some ppl that we need to put in a dark room and beat the c**p out of him/ her to, laugh if u must, save lives. it ain’t pretty but i won’t lose sleep over it. if a bomb is about to explode in my kid’s school, hand me the knife, i’ll cut the suspect up myself and to h*ll with the courts.

    2a) teo soh lung needs to decide if she is a politician (sdp candidate) or an ordinary sporean seeking justice. can’t be both.

    2b) let me throw a curve ball. funnily enough, i actually believe the government is sincere in protecting religious groups. their image in spore is all gd (80% are religious) and u can’t lol at religious beliefs because they are very ‘sensitive’. now, if this 72yr old ah kong wants to have his say, then it opens up religious grps to face the full wrath of intellectual scruntiny. in this instance, if indeed ah kong did say he supported no isd, a fair response from a non-believer might be to say “do i really wanna know what ppl who go to africa and tell ppl there not to use condoms (and before the catholics whack me, i believe that’s exactly what mother theresa did) think?” the pt is, if religious grps start making statements, they are opening themselves up to a whole lot of hard hitting ques coming their way and the intellectual standard of our local religious leaders just isn’t up to it. no really, check out the philosopical debates in europe and us, our religious leaders have never been exposed to that sort of high level argument. eg. circumcision for women de-sentisizes her clit. ask AWARE to explain that one to you. also, who the f**k takes a knife to a baby’s or child’s virgina?

    2c) blackops being exposed by a gay blogger.
    rear admiral of the navy, no less. i suddenly have concerns over our navy and security forces. not exactly delta force material.

    3. finally, wearily, this isn’t about the govt. alex, we have a diff view. the thing is, sporeans just don’t care enough for one another. they feel nothing for teo soh lung. it’s about sporeans developing a sense of social justice and abandoning meritocracy (you probably deserve it). and when that day comes, in won’t just be the government that has a lot to answer for. religious grps are going to be in for a hell of a ride as well.

  23. 47 Martyn See 23 September 2012 at 11:22

    Point is this: Alex Au’s main allegation, a very serious one indeed – that the Govt had arm-twisted the head of the Catholic Church to issue a statement against his will – has not been refuted. 
    Prior to his letter to Function 8, the Archbishop had expressed his views about championing human rights and justice (see link below) . That he would issue a statement in support of the anti-ISA rally would not have been out of character. Instead, the retraction of his letter and the tone and language used against Alex Au and F8 are highly uncharacteristic. Which then renders the view that Catholics will rally behind the Church in this issue to be no more than mere speculation. 
    Which Archbishop would his followers believe? The one that issues statements about promoting human rights or the one that retracts letter and condemns a small band of human rights advocates? 
    Oh by the way, when the Archbishop were making all these statements about human rights, including one issued just before the General Elections, didn’t the Govt see fit to put a stop to that then? So what then constitutes a religious leader “meddling” in politics?

    Andrew Loh rebuts Bertha Hanson.

    Ravi Philemon rebuts Bertha


    Via Andrew Loh.

    Which of the following would be political and which would not be?

    1. Church speaks up against euthanasia.
    2. Church speaks up against abortion.
    3. Church speaks up for more social assistance for the poor.
    4. Church speaks up against detention without trial.
    5. Church speaks up against unfair political system.
    6. Church speaks up for social justice.
    7. Church speaks up for independent judiciary.
    8. Church speaks up for affordable housing for the poor.
    9. Church speaks up against the use of condom.
    10. Church speaks up against gay rights.
    11. Church speaks up against war.

    Are we choosing and cherry picking what we feel is “political”? What exactly is “mixing politics and religion”? 

    To me, this is what would be “mixing politics and religion”: “The govt must adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ and include the Bible as part of the school curriculum and as the basis of its policies!”

    But no one is saying this or asking for anything like this, is there?

  24. 48 StopTreatingUsLikeChildren 23 September 2012 at 12:55

    I think this is all about the government. Specifically, its continuing efforts to restrict the free flow of information. Neither Function 8 nor the Catholic Church particularly interest me. But they should have the right to express their views. All the more so when the government is clearly conflicted on the specific issue.

  25. 49 Concerned 25 September 2012 at 22:42

    A god article. I wish all the civil societies and Mr Au success in having the false accusations against them by the state media dropped. It is obvious that the state has problems facing up to the mistakes and suppressive actions of the past. It is highly unfortunate.

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