Archive for the 'religion' Category

Two dioceses, two peoples

Guest essay by Rumpole of the Bailey*

Singapore and Hong Kong are similar in many ways. Both are former British colonies and inherited many features of the Westminster form of governance. According to Wikipedia, Roman Catholicism is practised by 4.6% or about 210,000 people in the Little Red Dot. The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong states on its website that the Fragrant Harbour has 363,000 resident and 138,000 non-resident (e.g. Filipino maids) followers.

However, looking at how Gregory Yong behaved during Operation Spectrum in 1987 and Nicholas Chia is now behaving in this year’s Letter-Gate, one cannot help but feel that the difference in “gutsiness” between Hongkongers and Singaporeans extends also to the priesthood. Continue reading ‘Two dioceses, two peoples’

Goat days

For a while, Daisy Hulou was good friends with Freda, even sending her a birthday card. But soon after, Daisy was seen being dragged into the bushes by Goat, the village head. We don’t know exactly what happened in the bushes, but immediately after that, Daisy asked Freda to return the birthday card she had sent. Freda asked her why she changed her mind, but she would not answer. She turned cold and uncommunicative.

Several months later, Specky told the village that the incident when Goat pulled her into the bushes was highly suggestive of rape. Continue reading ‘Goat days’

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. Continue reading ‘Three statements from the government, Function 8 and Maruah on the archbishop affair’

What the archbishop did not intend

Sometimes, people respond to a hole by digging a deeper one. Archbishop Nicholas Chia of the Catholic Church issued a press statement at around 10:30 pm last night in response to my post Lunch menu a 4-point letter. I only heard about it from reporters, and at the time of writing this, have not seen a copy of the press statement he issued.

According to the Straits Times:

The head of the Catholic Church in Singapore has confirmed that he wrote to an activist group backing its call to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) – but withdrew the letter later fearing it could affect the country’s social harmony. Continue reading ‘What the archbishop did not intend’

Lunch menu a 4-point letter

The head of the church was told to present himself. Although couched as an invitation to lunch, it wasn’t hard to see it for what it was — a summons to appear before Caesar for a dressing down.

Could he bring another priest along? he asked.

No. Come alone.  Continue reading ‘Lunch menu a 4-point letter’

Attitudes to creating non-standard families, part 1

It was a small survey about attitudes to adoption and having children by persons who are single or not conventionally married (as per current Singapore law), but I think it will take me five articles to present the results.

That said, it’s not as if it is such a significant survey. It’s certainly not representative of Singaporeans as a whole since it was conducted on this blog alone, and only open to responses for three or four days. As I mentioned previously, the readership of this blog has certain demographic characteristics — being generally more liberal is one of them. And so, the results are only suggestive of what this segment may be thinking. Continue reading ‘Attitudes to creating non-standard families, part 1′

What limits to ‘religious liberty’?

What is the place of religion in society? Two recent news stories from the US pointed to this question. Both by themselves had little significance for Singapore, but nonetheless gave food for thought.

The first, Republican horrified to discover that Christianity is not the only religion, was about Valarie Hodges, a state legislator in Louisiana, changing her position with respect to a proposed law that would enable school fee vouchers, provided by the state government, to be tendered at mission schools. At first, she fully supported the law, assuming that religiously-run schools only comprised Christian schools. Then, she was aghast to learn that in line with the secular underpinnings of the US, other religiously-run schools would be equally eligible under the program, in particular, a Muslim school that had applied for inclusion.

“We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana,” the article quoted her as saying. Continue reading ‘What limits to ‘religious liberty’?’

Crossing over from gospel to vanity

It would seem to me almost inevitable that if you were a preacher who went on and on about how, if you believe, believe, believe, you would be blessed with material riches, then you yourself had better live a life of luxury. If you didn’t, wouldn’t you run the risk that a member of your church might point to your lack of wealth and question your own piety? That might be a tad embarrassing.

Embarking on the prosperity gospel is to take the road to excess.

Continue reading ‘Crossing over from gospel to vanity’

Speech for Humanist of the Year 2012

Below is the speech delivered for the event on 23 June 2012 when yours truly was honoured by the Humanist Society (Singapore)  with the Humanist of the Year award. I was asked for something touching on “gay-rights issues/humanism/religiosity”.

Thank you very much for the honour. I think it’s very generous of the Society, though I would understand if it had been a difficult decision since I am a gay man. Some of you may wonder why it is such a big deal that I would open with a sentence about my sexual orientation. It is a big deal because the world in which I am living now makes it so.

But it shouldn’t be so, and it wouldn’t be so if we applied reason upon empirical knowledge, which is the very essence of humanism. To be gay is now known to be a completely natural phenomenon, inherently harmless. Continue reading ‘Speech for Humanist of the Year 2012′

Opponent of same-sex marriage casts debate as between ‘elites’ and ‘people’

Brian Brown, the president of the National Organisation for Marriage, based in Washington DC, lived up to his billing. I had been forewarned: If Helen Alvare’s arguments were difficult to follow, the NOM’s would be even more so.

In fact, they were so difficult to follow, the one-hour session was almost enjoyable. There were huge opportunities to read between the lines. Continue reading ‘Opponent of same-sex marriage casts debate as between ‘elites’ and ‘people’’


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