Friday, May 2, 2008

Thank you Mr Lim

In 2003, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, talked about the non-discriminatory hiring practices of the civil service, which specifically extended to sexual minorities.

Two "classic" letters later surfaced in the Straits Times Forum page on July 15, 2003, one by George Lim Heng Chye, a regular champion of a certain brand of public and sexual morality, and another by Phiroze Abdul Rahman, whose name is associated with the Association of Muslim Professionals when Google-d.

Paying closer attention to the perennial moral crusader that is George Lim Heng Chye, I am most intrigued by the use of identity in the process of politicisation and the contestation of ideas. He proudly claims to be heterosexual and married to a heterosexual woman. He is also proud to be very fertile, and also sufficiently wealthy, to have four children (as of 2003), who are also heterosexual (as of 2003).

Most importantly of all, George Lim Heng Chye inspired me to use the very same tactic of "identity politics" to play the game he has been playing. A letter-writer who claims to be X, believing in X and in the process vilifying, condemning, criticising and discrediting Y. In this case, X and Y represent two of many different identities, sexuality. George Lim Heng Chye is straight, and he speaks for a kind of morality that benefits and privileges straight people, legally, politically and economically.

Now I know why queer and questioning people are so pissed off. I had always thought that sexual minorities just have an axe to grind, make some noise once in a while. But we are always so ready to individualise and isolate problems, and not link them to the larger context.

When preaching, prescribing and propagating their brand of morality, many have come to identify themselves as parents, straight people, concerned people, married people, etc. They are engaging in identity politics to uphold the heteronormative status quo! And it is this heteronormative status quo that protects the dominant group's usage of identity politics as a strategy to sustaining it. Hand in hand. As for other ideas that question the status quo, they are accused of using "identity politics", which has now become a dirty word, because it is being applied to the marginalised group. What on earth is happening?

As such, I decided to do what George Lim Heng Chye did, and identify myself as a straight person. "I am a straight member of the public who wants to understand issues that sexual minorities confront, especially in an Asian country like Singapore."
http://www.straitstimes.com/ST+Forum/Story/STIStory_146526.html

Angela Thiang Pei Yun, who did her final year law paper under the supervision of Thio Li-Ann, titled "Pride and prejudice: Law, (im)morality and politics of homosexuality in Singapore", shot back. She said she "fail to see the relevance of Mr Ho's confession of being 'straight' in the context of a rational and informed debate in matters of public interest. What matters is the substance and veracity of what is being said, not the identity of the speaker."
http://www.straitstimes.com/ST%2BForum/Story/STIStory_147142.html

You see, not all straight and married people think the same way. We are not homogeneous. The problem with this world is that while persons can handle difference, it is people who can't handle heterogeneity, because it upsets the group. It is all about power and survival of the group. Hence, there is always leveraging on identity politics on the side of the majority, which is sometimes identified as the democratic, numerical, moral majority. Are they trying to herd the flock and vote to annihilate the minorities?

I call on straight people to speak up if they feel a sense of injustice. You can never have your animal rights and environmentalism if you can't even respect another human being. Imagine "stop killing the whales; but do carry on with beating the fags!" slogans.

Below are the two "classic" letters.

Govt should rethink hiring of gays

I am a heterosexual man, married to a heterosexual woman and we have four heterosexual children. We believe that the right upbringing by parents will prevent improper and deviant future behaviours.

We also believe in a God who loves both the heterosexual and the gay, but He hates the sin of immorality.

So now you know where I would stand on the issue of the Government hiring gays for even sensitive jobs ('Govt more open to employing gays now'; ST, July 4). Or is there no more right or wrong regarding the hiring of gays to help govern the country?

The saying 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' is my guiding principle. I accept a criminal, a gay, a gangster or a hooligan, but I reject his behaviour. Why? Because as human beings we have a conscience to distinguish between what is good and what is bad.

There is no greyness between white and black. White is white, and black is black. There is no relativity in morality. Morality is absolute. Yet the guiding principle is love.

So is it morally right to hire gays for key government positions? It would take a perfect government not to hire them as pressure mounts over the years to accept gays in practically any job.

Our society, including religious groups, has been bending backwards towards tolerance of immoral behaviour. A government that does not appease the wishes of its people may not last long. On the other hand, many people still expect our Government to take sound and responsible action to protect young citizens from the corrupting influence of immoral behaviour.

I am concerned about the consequences of the Government's action. Firstly, the Government has shown quite clearly by its action that it has lost its moral authority.

Then there are other repercussions: gay leaders will one day advocate gay marriages and, as if to complete the cycle, they will promote the adoption of orphaned children by married gay couples.

I am concerned for our next generation of children. Will they be able to tell right from wrong? By accepting what the Government is doing now, we are not helping our children to see the corrupting and subtle influences of such a lifestyle.

I disagree with the Government that people are born that way and hence helpless to change. Gays are never born that way. The law of nature has been that you are either born a male or a female, hence the proper behaviour follows.

However, because of negative influences in their lives, homosexualism and lesbianism set in and took control of the person's mind, soul and body.

Most gays are reported to have had a history of being sexually abused when they were children. Others mentioned that they had grown up in homes without a father or father figure and subsequently rejected their own sexual identities. Still others admitted that their attraction to the same sex started when they allowed themselves to be addicted to pornography.

Yet the person himself still has a choice as to whether to accept or reject this immoral behaviour. Some people may be comfortable with the change in views, but I am not and will continue to educate my children in the right way.

I am surprised that leaders of religions like Islam and Christianity have not voiced their disagreement openly. These two religions have very strong views about the right behaviours where human sexuality is concerned.

Religions play an important role in society and it is most ironical and sad that religious leaders are refraining from making their stand known publicly in matters of sexual morality.

I would like to appeal to the Government to reverse its decision to hire gays for key jobs. History has shown time and again that great empires fell because of failing human values and shaky moral principles. Does the phrase 'the chain is as strong as the weakest link' sound familiar?

We know that yeast causes dough to rise, so in the recent Sars outbreak its containment depended on not leaving even one virus at large to infect people.

Likewise, the majority of the public should make known its disapproval of hiring gays for key government jobs. This seemingly harmless action today will not bode well for our children tomorrow.

GEORGE LIM HENG CHYE

I am disturbed by just the thought that gays are ordinary people like you and me. Their sexual orientation is more than just a deviant desire which needs to be corrected, and their lifestyle remains questionable.

If we accept gays as a sexual minority, then subtly we are telling ourselves and our children that it is acceptable to have sex with the same gender.

I would encourage gays to rethink the way they live, being man or woman. Getting back to religion or the basics of sex is the right thing to do.

And, hopefully, they would realise that they have to change. They should not allow themselves to be blinded by other parts of the world where the gay community is accepted, nor jump onto the bandwagon on the pretext of evolution of a country or people's maturity.

To be blunt, even in the animal kingdom, a tiger will look for a tigress to share their lives together.

PHIROZE ABDUL RAHMAN

Tiger and tigress? This is a classic. Well, there are many animals that engage in "unnatural" behaviours such as homosexual behaviours, having fetishes, masturbation, inter-species sexual intercourse, and so on. Phiroze Abdul Rahman had done an excellent exercise on anthropomorphisation of tigers, that "share their lives together". Maybe black widow spiders can share their lives together too.

I believe that change always occurs in small steps. There is something very perverse about the notion of "morality" in Singapore, as held by the people who claim to be the moral majority (identity politics again?). As such, injustices and inequalities manifest themselves, thanks to such complacency (see Lee Kuan Yew) of ideology. Now, there are people who are questioning this complacency, which assumes morality and values to be absolute, thus perpetuating a lot of phobias. It is the very complacency that sustains these phobias.

I have to thank Mr Lim for the "flame bait" of a letter, and the many many letters he has written to ensure that Singapore maintains its moral foundation. I believe despite our differences in opinion, both of us share similar values too. He has inspired me to write to the Straits Times Forum. If the Straits Times Forum can publish that, it can sure publish almost every other damn thing.

George Lim Heng Chye has figured rather prominently in my dialogues, even with my wife-to-be. She is always excited when she sees his name in the papers, and she will go "WTF?", which does not mean "what's the fuss?".

No sarcasm is needed, nor intended in this article. I feel that people like George Lim Heng Chye have the right to air his views in the mainstream media, but he has to be prepared to be questioned and critiqued on the very same medium (mainstream or alternate) by people like myself. It has to be clear that it is his views that have to be questioned and not his person. The same goes for Thio Li-Ann, and no one should be physically threatened or insulted. Views are views; people are people.

Without George Lim Heng Chye, in my opinion, there wouldn't be civil dialogue in the mainstream media (and of course, flaming), pertaining to GLBTQ issues in Singapore. It was he who opened the debate, and allowed others to enter it and engage the topic. As said, when you openly champion public morality, you have to prepare yourself to be challenged, and we also have to be grateful the mainstream media has opened up a little bit to allow such challenges. Maybe that is the result of the rhetoric of an "open society" as purported by the Lee Hsien Loong administration.

Maybe next time, I can start my letters with "I am a heterosexual man, married to a heterosexual woman...", and of course, we hope to have happy and healthy children some day, and teach them to be well-adjusted and loving, and probably not use analogies such as straws in noses to explain unnatural phenomena.

5 comments:

Recruit Ong said...

Got watched this movie American Beauty? That macho ex-Marine Col in the end turns out to be a closet gay. I always find people who make it a point to stress their "straightness" more likely to be a closet case.. so this George person is highly suspect hahaha!

the little eastern heretic said...

you might be closer to the truth than you think... i recall some studies which discovered that the more homophobic men are, it's because they wish to suppress their own homosexual desires...

Sam Ho said...

no offence, but i think you guys are overestimating/underestimating george lim heng chye.

he's just proud of his heterosexuality, just like tom cruise was proud of his budding romance with katie holmes when he jumped on the couch on oprah winfrey show.

i think there's nothing wrong to be proud of something you believe in. but what makes me irritated is when people wear their ideology like a badge and try to make others believe that there is only one way.

Recruit Ong said...

true also...

but tom cruise is short u see, thats why he need to jump on the couch to "compensate". Maybe same for ppl like george, need to compensate hahaha!

sam said...

hahaha, that sounds very logical.

any way, that guy wrote about multiple directorships today.

he genuinely cares. he writes to the forum pretty often and for the past few years.