Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Conservative Singapore

(Unpublish - Oct 11, 2007)

Online petitions and "conservative" Singapore

I refer to Chua Hian Hou's report 'Online campaign to repeal gay sex law' (ST, Oct 10).

Firstly, in agreement with Alex Au, online petitions do little to sway policy. This is because of thenature of the internet, where anonymous participation contributes little to the seriousness and validity of some campaigns. This situation is compounded by the fact that the mainstream media and the authorities continue to not take new media activism seriously and that media activism, or activism in general, are not regarded the same way they are in other countries. Singapore should not only be a representative democracy, but also a participatory democracy.

Secondly, I have seen for the umpteenth time the use of "conservative Singapore" rhetoric. Perhaps this has partly got to do with the notion of 'Asian values',which originated in the 1970s and the rise of Asian economic power, emphasizing the difference between East and West. 'Asian values' then took a moral turn to include defenses against what most vocal conservative people deem as moral decay and decadence from Western influence and globalisation. What is very puzzling is that Singapore has many other problems in the 'moral' domain. We are going to have acasino. Prostitution is not illegal. Some Singaporeanmen, married and unmarried, still continue to go to Batam for sex. Sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility among teenagers are still a reality. Why then is more attenion being focused on homosexuality and sexual minorties in general?

Why do we seek to discipline other communities andother peoples, telling them who and how to love? Are Singaporeans truly "conservative", or are they just pushy and demanding of others? Does being"conservative" justify the stigmatisation, ridicule, discrimination and prejudice of other people? Does being "conservative" justify the deprivation of recognition, respect and rights of other communities? Does being "conservative" justify the creation of homogenous values as fitting to a "conservative majority"?

Ho Chi Sam

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