Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let's build bridges rather than burn them

Published Version

I refer to Dr Thio Su Mien's letter yesterday, 'Militant religionism? It's family values'.

In it, she states her endorsement of mainstream and government-supported family structure and values.

I believe Singapore should not merely be a domain wherein the majority always wins or has the final say. This should be complemented and buffered by values of pluralism and polycentrism.

That said, every identity, faith and family structure deserves the same right to participate, to be represented, respected and protected.

The conventional family structure, according to the Government as reiterated by Dr Thio, may be the 'heterosexual stable family'. However, we should not use this rhetoric - or even hide behind it - to dehumanise, devalue and discriminate against other family structures.

Like Dr Thio, I am against anti-religious hostility. Singaporeans have the right to faith and the right to participate in domain of religion.

Unfortunately, people from religious domains have sought to belittle, invalidate and delegitimise various segments and communities in the public domain.

The public domain consists of people of diverse faiths and religious affiliations, and even the understated non-religious. However, it involves a lopsided participation and representation of views and discourses from specific circles. I believe it is not merely the alleged presence of a numerical majority, but rather the participation of an educated elite with an opposing moral agenda.

As a son and a husband, I believe in family values too, but these values are based more on function than form or appearance. Love and safety are two important values.

The structure of any family outside our own should neither concern nor affect us. If it does, we need to question the extent to which we claim moral, intellectual and emotional superiority and righteousness over others.

I also take issue with Dr Thio's labelling of the 'homosexual agenda' in Singapore.

The term, originating in the United States in the 1990s, is polarising. Moreover, it exacerbates social division with obscene amounts of misinformation, self-righteous moralising and fear-mongering.

The term is also generalising, simplistic and disrespectful to those who seek to address issues of discrimination, equality, protection and pluralistic social integration. I find it unnerving that there are some who want to make Singapore unsafe - socially, emotionally and professionally unsafe - for people who identify as 'queer'.

Instead of closing doors and burning bridges, let us make the effort to communicate openly.

Ho Chi Sam

Unpublished version

I refer to Thio Su Mien’s letter ‘Militant religionism? It's family values’ (ST, June 1).

In it, she states her endorsement of the mainstream and government-supported family structure and values.

I believe Singapore should not merely be a domain wherein the majority always wins or has the final say. This should be complemented and buffered by values of pluralism and polycentrism.

That said, every identity, faith and family structure deserves the same right to participate, to be represented, respected and protected.

The conventional family structure, according to the government as reiterated by Thio, may be the ‘heterosexual stable family’. We however should not use this rhetoric – or even hide behind it – to dehumanise, devalue and discriminate against other family structures.

Like Thio, I am against anti-religious hostility. Singaporeans have the right to faith and the right to participate in domain of religion.

Unfortunately, there have been persons from religious domains who have sought to belittle, invalidate and delegitimise various segments and communities in the public domain.

The public domain consists of people of diverse faiths and religious affiliations, and even the understated non-religious. However, it appears that the Singaporean public domain involves a lopsided participation and representation of views and discourses from specific circles. I believe it is not merely the alleged presence of a numerical majority, but rather the participation of an educated elite with opposing moral agenda.

Being a son and a husband, I believe in family values too, but these values are based more on function, rather than form or appearance. Love and safety are two important values.

The structure of any family outside our own should neither concern nor affect us. If it does, we need to question the extent to which we claim a moral, intellectual and emotional superiority and righteousness over others.

I also take issue with Thio’s labelling of the ‘homosexual agenda’ in Singapore.

The term, originating in the United States in the 1990s, is polarising. Moreover, it exacerbates social division with obscene amounts of misinformation, self-righteous moralising and fear-mongering.

The term is also generalising, simplistic and disrespectful to those who seek to address issues of discrimination, equality, protection and pluralistic social integration. I find it unnerving that there are some who want to make Singapore unsafe for people who identify as queer – socially, emotionally and professionally unsafe.

Instead of closing doors and burning bridges, let us make the effort to communicate openly.

I find it baffling Singapore is ranked 14th in the world in terms of social capital by the Caux Round Table. Its economic-oriented methodology should consider the key characteristic of social capital that is trust. There is so much distrust in our country, in view of issues of polarisation and (un)graciousness.

The issue of sexual minority rights is one of many measures of the extent to which Singaporeans and the government want to define equality, and how we want to negotiate with ideology, ideological affiliation and information.

Ho Chi Sam

The Straits Times did not edit the article as much as I thought they would. They have provided honorifics and adjusted some grammar, given the 'polite' writing style adopted by SPH. To fit 400 words, they probably had to cut out the rest of the letter. Fair enough.

More importantly, 'queer' is in the press now. But the next level is to remove those inverted commas, because it is 'queer' is not a metaphor, but an experience and a reality. It should be queer, not 'queer', eventually.

1 comment:

Donaldson Tan said...

TSM was the first person to educate / misinform the Singapore public on the non-existent homosexual agenda.

http://sg.christianpost.com/dbase/editorial/330/section/1.htm

Unless she retracts her position, animosity towards Christianity will not subside.