Friday, September 30, 2011

When Dr Menon died

I barely knew Ananda Perera and his reputation as an ex-news director when he was cast as a supporting actor on the set of "A War Diary" in 2000/01.

My parents were like, "Do you know who he is???" But of course, they end up telling me who he was. I still had no clue. Young and clueless.

He acted as a doctor in the drama, as a mentor to my character.

He was always patient and actually had a good time filming. We filmed together mostly in the studios and also on location in Seletar Camp.

It seemed to me that nobody treated him differently and he probably didn't expect to be treated differently either. He played the role of the actor well, listening to the instructions of the director and the crew. He knew his script well and spoke the most impeccable English.

He would answer when addressed by his character's name "Dr Menon", rather than "Mr Perera". And he always had a good laugh at random things, if not smiling all the time in the 3 months I got to work with him.

His character was captured and tortured by the invading Japanese (it's a WWII film), and died in the arms of his student, the character I played. I think we played that scene very well. For the very short time we've worked together, I think we worked out a good touching onscreen moment. It's a pleasure to have met him and work with him.

Bye Mr Perera.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to make marry in Singapore!

Marriage rates are declining in Singapore. No shit, Sherlock!

Thanks to decades of result-oriented education, growing materialism, rapid industrialisation, and a heavy touch of economically driven social policies, we've become a highly rationalised society. But it's more convenient to overlook sociology and just isolate the problem to individualistic selfish ungrateful generation of Singaporeans we have today. It's after all less complicated if a generation of human beings (Gen Y, in this case) is identified as the problem, as compared to looking at policies and their social ramifications.

It's reported that global economic uncertainty is one reason for singles not wedding. That is interesting. It is even more interesting that no political leader has taken ownership and responsibility for the policies he (yes, it's a rather male-centric one) has passed that has dis/empowered a generation of Singaporeans into embracing a very rational and economically-driven approach to life.

This is a classic case of paying the price for decisions made by the previous generation of leaders. We clean up their poop, just like how the next generation will clean up ours.

Our over-rationalised kiasu nature is a product of a socialisation that is strongly steered by a series of incentive and disincentives. Love and marriage are now more logical and rational, rather than emotional and irrational (in a good, romantic, romanticised sense). Love and marriage are incentivised with perks thanks to policies.

Love and marriage are also extended and externalised as it constantly remains couched in the rhetoric of policy, politics, "national service" and so on. Marriage is now defined by its function and the ramifications if its numbers are insufficient. As such, we fuss a lot more over its form - we focus on age, race and composition (e.g. heterosexual composition) - and when we're happy with a certain form, more policies are crafted to favour it.

Speaking of "national service", isn't it very demeaning to women who make the choice to stay single or married or not to have kids, and we're telling them making babies equates to doing national service? "That's your biology, so do it." Thanks for representing women in Singapore that way. I'm sure sex-negative feminists like Thio Su Mien will be appalled by such logic, so shut up and sit down.

There's where the tyranny of youthful heterosexual procreative lawful union kicks in. You can add "educated ethnic Chinese" to that because the issues of a specific stratum of a specific ethnicity seem to matter to specific people in power, especially so in a political ecosystem historically dominated (very thoroughly) by a Chinese (business) elite. We can talk about race another time.

Back to marriage and of course, kids.

Let's put some of the pieces together first:
People are marrying later.
People want to be financially independent as early as possible.
Flats are more expensive.
Flats are smaller.
People have elderly folks to look after.
Elderly folks face limitations in medical subsidies and access to medical help.
Cost of living continues to increase.

So, what would rational Singaporeans do?

Take care of the people who are already in existence (elders). Makes sense.
Earn as much money as possible, be financially independent. Good way to feel in control in such a politically disempowered society.
Financial independence seem to be the new "sexy" in a materialistic age. Good way to hook up.
Speaking of hooking up, isn't it more rational to enjoy sex as a commodity (recreationally consumed) than having commitment which is emotional and less logical?
Since we have sex for recreational consumption, there's really no need to have marriage when polyamory empowers individuals with choice.
Well, we could have marriage to enjoy the perks provided by the state, but that may not necessarily result in procreation.
A childless marriage makes sense for those who want to enjoy their brand of independence and comfort. That's economically stable, and it's rational, right?

The point is, don't try to blame Singaporeans for being over-rational or individualistic. Let's look at the context and how we have been socialised into becoming this way, into feeling this way and into believing it is normal to feel this way.

The news report need not interview sociologists and give a watered down assessment of the situation. Our leaders just need to have a little sociological imagination, and they'll be less prone to blaming the products of their own policies. But some people think their shit doesn't stink.

So Singaporeans aren't marrying. Selfish.
Not having enough kids, prefer childless lifestyle. Materialistic.
Bring in more immigrants. Xenophobic.

Not bad, and we've a paternalistic state that some how wants its children to have low self-esteem with these labels, or at least the association with such labels. Sociologists will be giggling at this.

If the government wants to have a holistic approach to policy, it should first take greater responsibility of its policies and genuinely accept that its decisions, past and present, create the means for a society to exhibit such tendencies. Don't blame globalisation and westernisation and any other phenomena you think doesn't involve you.

A holistic approach also incorporates sociology. I'm very sure many sociologists will be very happy if a major segment of our politicians have a little sociological imagination or develop some sensitivity to the social aspects and implications of policies, rather than have impaired leadership driven by the economic imperative and a press that tokenises them (sociologists).

I think we're come to a point where our leaders have difficulty leading by example. While I personally prefer our leaders to show their personal and family man/woman side (have the press depict them as family guys), they'll probably be dismissed as socio-economically privileged folks living in comfort and have the means to have big happy families. That's political cynicism, which is on the rise, unlike our birthrates (no worries, next year's the dragon year and we'll get our ethnic Chinese babies).

I personally like to see Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold his wife's hand and show he's a family guy. It's symbolic, and it shows that despite the Lee household's rather comfortable combined income, family has a place. We are far too obsessed with professional performance and buttoned-up public personae, we forget about how marriage and family can have a place in this heavily rationalised mess.

I wanted to say "If you want to connect with people, you have humanise yourself and show you are just like everyone" but I think Singaporeans are generally less forgiving and expect you to be so much better than them in order to be a good political leader, but not so damn good to the point you're despised for being disconnected. Then again, how did we come to cultivate this expectation?

When a leader speaks poor English, we feel he/she is not good enough to lead. When a leader speaks good English, we feel he/she is unable to connect with everyone else. Don't blame the fickle electorate. It's time to do an after-action review of the policies that have caused us to see the world this way and given us this appetite for perfection and of course, our characteristic impatience.

Ah well, perhaps we'll have more "throwing the baby out with the bath water" metaphors from the Prime Minister next National Day Rally when he's talking about policies.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kumar's coming out: An empowering and disempowering Ra Ra Show

Entertainer Kumar has come out.

This is something I fully support, and given his celebrity status, I find it all the more admirable.

The New Paper reported his uncertainty prior to coming out. It's rather interesting for someone I believe to be a rather private introverted man who appears to not care what others think, yet is also concerned about being accepted.

He is human after all, and serves as an example that as human beings, while we are susceptible to fear, we are capable of the courage to conquer it.

With respect to Kumar's coming out, I worry about the uninformed segment of the Singaporean population, who constantly and willingly subject themselves to fear and never have the courage to break out of it - the homophobes.

The homophobic will most likely digest the news in the way they would understand. They will judge based on their unquestionable and warped sense of binarist gender logic, which is chiefly dictated by the essentialist notion that gender, sex and sexuality are (and are to be) strictly aligned (i.e. male-manly-man and female-womanly-woman).

Kumar is a drag queen by profession. In my personal understanding, when someone cross-dresses for a living (part-time or full-time to earn a wage), it would constitute as being a drag queen or king. At the surface, it is entertainment. Scratch deeper, it parodies gender behaviour and roles, drawing laughs. At a deeper level, as a parody and/or art form, it exposes the flimsiness of gender as we know it (it isn't inherent after all, *GASP*).

For me, gender is just a coherent set of culturally intelligible/recognisable actions and traits agreed upon by a majority of people and institutions, to be associated with a certain physical and biological sex.

Shucks. It's probably easier to understand if we all can sweep this back into the closet and assume it is natural, moral, just and correct to have our male-bodied manly men and our female-bodied womanly women as heterogeneous entities.

The homophobic Singaporean typically understands and subscribes to the following myths:

1) Gays are sissy men
2) Gays are men who want to be women
3) Men who dress like women are gay
4) Men who like men see themselves as women
5) Sissy men like to dress as women.
6) Gays are just women trapped in men's bodies, or have women's brains.

In academic speak, and I hope to shake off some rust, homophobes are very prone to:

1) Gender essentialist ideas
2) Dichotomous gender binarism
3) Traditional male-dominated constructions of gender
4) Believing that sexual intercourse is essentially phallocentric and only penile-vaginal penetrative sex
5) Heterosexism/centrism

Or, simply put it, the homophobe is prone to essentialist dichotomous gender binarism, constructed and enframed by historical and cultural male-dominated phallocentric patriarchal discourses. Because that's "natural", or "virtuous", or "correct", or "normal".

So, in the eyes of a homophobe, a drag queen coming out as homosexual may leave some myths unshaken.

Given the homophobes' lack of awareness and understanding, which are in a huge way caused by their spiteful hate-mongering yet ignorant oppression of sexual minorities for the longest time, he or she will come to a conclusion that upkeeps the harmful homophobic myths.

One damning myth is that gay men secretly want to be women.

A lot of people believe in these types of myths. Believing is easy; questioning is difficult.

There is no problem with a drag queen coming out. The problem lies with a segment of society that is vicious in its denial that humanity is a collage of different identities, sometimes fluid over time, fluid over space, overlapping, heterogeneous and uncategorisable. This segment does not have the courage to recognise this and to humbly accept they are just one speck of dust in the galaxy of (gender and sexual) identities.

Kumar's coming out, for some and for others, is empowering yet disempowering at the same time.

Even if some among the essentialist dichotomous binarist apologists were to - in their own way, logic, terms and enframing - accept Kumar and his coming out, it may come at the expense of individuals of different identities who are trying to come out.

I think this is a threat we face in the longer term.

In principle, in isolation, this is a good thing and this is the right thing.

Place it before a less understanding and less informed audience, it may be disadvantageous for those who don't fit the binarist mould (e.g. Macho manly man wants to come out, or feminine girly woman wants to come out - not many people can deal with these things).

To be honest, for the longest time, I find it difficult to come to terms with self-identified homosexual men who are muscle-bound and rather butched up in their mannerisms. I've been brought up to adhere to and preserve the system, and preserve the alignment of sex, gender and sexuality, and in the process of adherence and preservation, live to embody the alignment and feel it to be natural.

(Hey, if we fell out of line, we get disciplined. For example, the use of teasing to correct one's gendered behaviour such as calling others sissy in a derogatory manner or laughing very hard when a man introduces himself as "Vivian".)

It's jarring. Then I started to ask myself, why the fuck do we care so much about it? What do we care about who they are and what they do? Is this kind of difference and diversity a threat to me? (of course, if you have leaders and bosses who are homophobic and bigoted, I guess you'll need a little grace, patience and prudence)

Another interesting narrative from Kumar is that, prior to his coming out, he felt that identity, as in sexuality, is both a combination of nature and nurture. Hot discussion.

But the crux of diversity is not only to have a harmonious co-existence of identities, but also narratives. Kumar's narrative probably does not correspond with those of many LGBT and LGBT-affirming folks, does it? Again, does that matter? Must there be a "party whip"? (I'm not trying to be punny about parties and whips)

The disagreement within and amongst LGBT and LGBT-affirming circles is to me a reflection, or rather, a function of their very oppression by heterosexist homophobic discourses. In some ways, it reflects the low tolerance for diversity.

To a practical extent, the articulation of LGBT rights is made in the language mostly understandable to heterosexist folks who hold harmful homophobic myths, with a view to empower the latter as agents of change for a more harmonious diverse society. Empowering yet disempowering, again.

I still feel that high profile, or socio-economically privileged LGBT persons should come out and show that diversity to the wider audience, and also serve as an example and perhaps a role model, to young queer/questioning folks, that you can be comfortable with who you are.

It's very easy for a cisgendered heterosexual person with the relevant privileges to express this belief and make this call, but it'll be backed with support where and however he can commit. After all, the push towards harmonious diversity has to be championed by a diverse group, characterised by their uneven rights, privileges and predispositions.

Perhaps we live in a different age, in which role model LGBT folks are not exactly and entirely necessary, as queer and questioning youths can seek empowerment through many other means. I fully acknowledge this reality, and if there are means and platforms for queer and questioning youths to seek empowerment, please, in your own time and convenience, share them with those who similarly seek the same.

I don't support Kumar by saying "Yes I support you!", but instead say to those who make homophobic jibes at him or get into everyone elses' faces to perpetuate heterosexist homophobic essentialist gender binarist nonsense "Well, fuck you!"... but of course, I often prefer more polite and persuasive renditions.


add: I'm sleepy. I wanted to write a 300-word blog entry, a quick note. But I guess I overshot by a little bit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Grassroots of the "Neutrality" Problem

Must I place a disclaimer and say that the views I express here are solely my own and are neither reflective nor representative of that of any organisation? It’s the climate of fear I now subject myself to, but I wish to state that the views and arguments are solely and wholly my own and are neither in any way nor intended to be representative of any organisation. So in the spirit of expressing an opinion in the capacity of a citizen, and in the interest of contributing to public discourse as an independent node in the network, I hope there will be no inconvenience, prejudice or harm directed at me, my livelihood or my family. (fear fear fear)…

In this week’s episode of “Sucks to be…”, we look at the unenviable task of communications management on the part of the People’s Association. This is with regards to recent public queries on the neutrality of the statutory board. The PA has been put in a potentially embarrassing position with these queries. It has since replied to clarify, but in its clarification, I personally read it to be justifying exclusion along political lines.

Imagine switching the fan to a higher speed when faeces have already hit it. You can look up, but just don’t open your mouth.

Government ministries and agencies are on paper, and according to protocol, politically neutral. But put in a politician who wants power, recognition, more power and carries with him or her the political agenda of his/her political party, you get civil and public service tainted with the white colours of the ruling party.

If there’s a plan to serve Singaporeans, it would be the PAP’s plan. If there’s a definition of objectivity and neutrality, it would be that of the PAP’s definition. Singaporeans still being served, right?

Serving people is a thankless job. But politicians are often quick to cite the good leadership and work they have done, laying down the direction and framework for civil and public service.

For instance, a Minister with a health and ageing issues portfolio (not referring to any one in particular) may publicly claim credit for his/her leadership in the area from policy all the way down to execution.

This is a case when a service to citizens is used to score political points. It is not a wrong thing to do when you put your report card up for public scrutiny, and let people know you were and are the right guy/gal for the job.

It is not uncommon, but there are segments of the public who do not receive well the manner in which the attempts to score political points are articulated. To make things worse, the citizenry has grown familiar with a political style that threatens them into voting for them, by emotionally blackmailing and guilt-trapping Singaporeans. I cite the view that poor political leadership will cause our women to go to other countries to be maids, and in that line of reason, since that has not happened, we can safely assume, with all the intelligence we have, that the ruling party has done a good job.

Moreover, being an Asian country (to borrow the essentialist explanations of the PAP state), the electorate demands humility from all political parties. Even though the Minister of any portfolio can rightly claim credit and vocalise his/her leadership and decision-making skills for his/her respective Ministry’s work, some bits of the population are a little less forgiving.

Sucks to be a politician. You speak too crisp an English language, you are elitist. You speak like how Chan Chun Sing was depicted and immortalised in Youtube (with the Hokkien and poor English), you are not taken seriously and your leadership is questioned. If you appear to make a fool out of yourself (everyone has the right to do so once in a while actually), you’re in the Tin Pei Ling hall of fame (but is she a bad politician? It’s still to early to judge, but we prefer a little prejudging, if you know what I mean).

It sucks to be doing communications management, and I would think in this case, crisis communications management, when the lines between politics and public service are blurred. Some of us will think public service is politics. Feminists, and many theorists of the same vein, will also have us know that the personal is political.

If anything at all, and if subtlety was thrown out of the house screaming, it should have instead been a PAP spokesperson explaining the rationale of the decision, since it was stated rather clearly that opposition MPs or members of the opposition parties do not fit the bill as grassroots advisers. It is an exclusionist practise by the way, underlying the challenges posed by different political affiliations towards government-sanctioned grassroots initiatives. Since the exclusion is articulate along the lines of politics, a politician would be more suited to explaining it. That is not to be and we have a technically politically neutral organisation that is the People’s Association, justifying the exclusion of non-PAP aligned persons, by invoking the rhetoric of support for and alignment with the “elected government”, when it could have very well been the “elected and ruling party”.

The People’s Association defends its decision to appoint non-opposition party MPs as grassroots advisers (is it “advisor” or “adviser”?). This automatically implies that opposition party MPs are literally opposition, as in the antithesis of all things good, wholesome and virginal that is government, a.k.a. the ruling People’s Action Party.

“You’re either with us, or against us.”

I am very sure that there is no opposition party in Singapore that is diametrically opposed to the PAP in every syllable of its political manifesto and approach to public policy. There are some points everyone can agree on.

So, to address the issue of possible misrepresentation of elected government, or rather, the elected People’s Action Party, an empathetic sympathetic apologist would be a best fit for the position of grassroots adviser.

Since a political polarity is created in this discourse by the People’s Action Party between themselves and the opposition, it would be logical, in this sense, to hire your bosom buddies, a.k.a. you fellow political party members.

After all, if the objective is to get everyone on the same page, why not hire someone who’s from the same gang, all other things being equal? Favouritism in favour of a more favourite choice. After all, the one plan to serve, to which the ruling party subscribes, has to be followed by someone who believes in it.

And since this is Singapore, where the concept of “face” matters, there are certain things we cannot articulate clearly and definitively with language. There is still a silent recognition that trust within the ranks of one organisation can be adopted into another organisation and fully embraced. That’s probably why some PAP members hold multiple portfolios and are among the directors in different organisations across different industries – it’s either they are that damn good and can follow the same plan to serve people, or there is a serious shortage of talent.

The bottomline is that the PAP still has a plan to serve Singaporeans. Well, even if it means jailing people without trial, clamping down on freedom of speech, or probably shattering my rice bowl and harassing my family after this blog post is published.

I’d like to simplify the following persons. There is a difference between a PAP supporter and a PAP voter. A PAP supporter votes for the PAP, but it is not necessary that a person who votes for the PAP may support it. This is an issue easily taken for granted.

PAP supporters genuinely believe in the PAP leadership and the hearts of the individuals who represent or want to represent other Singaporeans in political domain. Yes, if there is a time to invoke a historical and hegemonic Christian rhetoric taken for granted to be religiously neutral by most, it’s “the calling”. Same goes for the OMG exclamations, which validates monotheism. I’m just saying. I’m just saying…

One’s sense of duty to serve becomes streamlined according to party ideology when one joins the party.

In my opinion, when you believe in the PAP and its moral and political direction, it translates to votes, unless some goondu marks the X in the wrong box of course. A PAP supporter, in my definition, believes that the PAP will be able to serve him or her, and society at large. Life will be good for “me” and things will get better for “everyone”.

At the same time, I believe it is reasonable to say that the PAP voter may not necessarily believe in its moral and political direction, but in one possibility, its economic leadership.

“I vote for the PAP because its leadership and policies keep me safe, and will benefit ME. ME ME ME. Muah hahahaha! HUAT AH!” does not equal to “I vote for the PAP because it has the people’s interest at its heart, and everyone in Singapore will benefit”.

There are people who want upgrading in their estates based because they want the value of their flats to increase, more so as a reason than actually benefiting, say, the elderly and the children.

In this argument, the mandate to rule the land is given to the PAP based on its economic leadership (a good one and most of us can generally agree on that), and probably less so in the areas of moral leadership. For example, if there is no climate of fear, but an air of respect for the PAP, I would say it would be a decent measure of its good moral leadership.

That said, the PAP is not the be-all and end-all to serve Singaporeans. The service to Singaporeans does not start and does not end with a vote.

There are people who truly serve Singaporeans in ways that the government is unable to. If one pledges political allegiance to the ruling party, society loses one who is able to serve and reach out to Singaporeans in ways the government cannot.

When it comes to building the community and connecting it with the ceremonially consultative state, bonds have to be fostered and grow organically. The state can at the very most, lay the foundations for social capital to flourish. For example, what impede the organic growth of social capital are lax immigration laws, rapid urbanisation and high population and traffic density, highly rationalised populace herded by incentivisation and any other factors you can think of doing your JC General Paper or equivalent essay (I know some JC kids have been reading this ah!)

Unfortunately, the ruling party has only one plan to serve Singaporeans. It wants party members or supporters to be grassroots advisers and help Singaporeans understand public policy better, and this implies that the non-elected party members eventually occupy a more politically advantageous position, priming them for future elections. That’s politics. The strategy works for the PAP, and it makes them believe it will work for Singaporeans.

But when politics interfere with the neutral position of civil and public servants who just want to earn an honest living, it gets messy.

My opinion is, so be it. It does not matter if the organisation is neutral or not. It has one plan to serve Singaporeans. And for whatever it does not cover, there are platforms and programmes created by Singaporeans in civil spaces that also serve the purpose of community bonding.

This arrangement is (un)fortunately biased towards the ruling People’s Action Party. Politics is like a religious turf war, people will always believe that the best way to establish a peaceful happy society is execute a few strategies ideologically approved and eventually favourable to the survival of the ideology itself.

The PAP’s plan to serve people has long been articulated in terms of paper qualifications and to simplify it, the “exam smarts”. Lee Kuan Yew enjoyed using that discourse, since you cannot really fault him for believing and telling everyone that you need the capable intelligent people to lead the country. And fast-forward to today, you get the Workers’ Party eating it all up and spitting it out, fielding the right candidates before an electorate who believes they have found the capable intelligent people.

The next chapter in the PAP focuses on youth and consultation, but that is something the opposition has long been covering. So we’ll see how that goes next time around, unless they gerrymander and rezone the entire Singapore into Tanjong Pagar GRC.

In short, there’s no one plan to follow to serve Singaporeans. There is some degree of plurality, even though it tilts in favour of the ruling party. It’s historical and the opposition parties will always find it an uphill task to be in power.

At the same time, for me, the PAP has forgotten what it is like to be an underdog. If it appreciated its rich history, instead of using it to coerce modern-day Singaporeans into supporting it, it will be a little more respected, and a little less feared.

The question of neutrality, while very valid in the area of “fair” political competition, deflects attention away from the business of serving Singaporeans and improving community bonding. We should be more concerned if the people who run the platform strive to proclaim themselves as the only legitimate platform to serve Singaporeans. We can then do without such arrogance and power-hunger.

One way to deal with suspicions of neutrality, or rather, the lack of it, is to create spaces for plurality, as in allowing and supporting non-governmental and non-PAP related efforts to serve Singaporeans. But of course, we have yet to reach that level of political maturity. So for the time being, a forum letter will do.

A good government with little insecurities and less of that “why don’t people love me?” complex, in my opinion, is one that not only provides an imperfect official platform for people to serve people, but also allow and support the flourishing of plural spaces to serve the same function. An example would be that in the areas of charity, social work and welfare. It will not stand idly by when people abuse these spaces to propagate hate (e.g. using protected religious speech to propagate hateful mistruths against gay people and dividing society).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A helpful research in an unjust land

There was an article by the Straits Times yesterday, reported by Melissa Pang, titled “Study looks at sexual behaviour of gay men”.

It reported that the Tan Tock Seng Hospital is conducting a survey to study sexual habits of homosexual men, with a view to improve preventive measures as well as the treatment of sexually transmitted infections. The questionnaire comes with a biological test.

The study has “good intentions” to ensure confidentiality and the meeting of research ethical protocol. The study also hopes to “understand the risk factors to come up with solutions”.

In short, the study contributes to sexual wellness of men who have sex with men.

The report does not say “men who have sex with men” (perhaps the most apt description), because that is a crime. The report has to describe the sample group as “homosexual men” and “gay men”.

You don’t have to be a self-identified homosexual man, or a gay man, to have sex with other men. Actions and beliefs don’t necessarily correspond with labels.

The Tan Tock Seng Hospital survey has good intentions, because the data collated may put the researchers in a better position to come up with suggestions and solutions which may influence outreach, policy, education and other domains, benefitting the community in some way.

Here lies the stumbling block. We have a discriminatory unconstitutional law in place which criminalises consensual sex between adult men.

Why discriminatory? Consensual sex between adult men and women is legal, so why target that between adult men alone? It is not logical.

Why unconstitutional? Our Constitution states that everyone is equal before the law. Yet this statutory law has privileged one group (people who have consensual heterosexual sex) over another (people who have consensual homosexual sex). That is Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Section 377A makes some people less equal than others. It also further allows stigmatism.

Advocates of the repeal of Section 377A have, like their hate-mongering homophobic self-righteous bigoted counterparts, have played the same old broken record over and again. The government remains in a state of indecision, not wanting to be responsible to ensuring that our statutory laws are in line with the Constitution.

The presence and imbalance of another law is the one that defends the “modesty” of women. Unfortunately, there is no male equivalent law to protect men from insulting gestures and speech. It is a discriminatory arrangement that is misaligned with the Constitution.

The research laments the poor participation rate, rightly so because they are conducting a study in the dark shadows of legal and social discrimination.

The research is the cart that is put before the horse. How are they supposed to reach out to, do research on, and help homosexual men in Singapore when nothing is done to address the very mechanisms that coerce them into silence.

Sexual wellness is always welcomed for any community.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for a “social wellness” that is on par with that of adults who have consensual heterosexual sex. How about some “legal wellness”, or rather, equality for all regardless of the adults with which they have consensual sex?

At the very least, the study should be part of a multiprong approach to improving the wellbeing of self-identified homosexual people in Singapore, involving the sincere efforts from other Ministries, apart from Health.

Any way, the ignorant moral terrorists who are hell-bent on conquering the minds of everyone else and turning them into the very same hateful discriminating bigots that they are (phew, what a mouthful), would have qualms with such a study, perhaps highlighting its complicity in the moral corruption of children (a convenient excuse to cover up their insidious imperialistic political tendencies) and the overall destruction of the institution of the family, leading to the apocalypse.

You know what destroys families? For one, people who break marital vows and walk away from being a responsible spouse and parent. Don’t blame the queer. Being straight doesn’t mean we are more moral and more right.

Homophobes may also make the logical leap (yes they are capable of logic, at times) and associate the study with the endorsement of homosexuality. A study on homosexual sexual habits, aiming to get results to improving sexual wellness, would probably mean you’re endorsing and celebrating the “homosexual lifestyle”.

All fundie speak. Even the non-religious homophobes have grown acquainted with the normalisation of fundamentalist Christianity, not that the members of the latter would mind. I know a few non-religious people who describe whatever they perceive gay people to be as leading a “homosexual lifestyle”, implying that sexual orientation and identity are learned, cultivated and hence can be unlearned and discarded.

The arguments here are not original, but they remain relevant, even though policymakers continue to lack the moral courage to do anything to end the legal discrimination of sexual minorities. Never mind anti-discrimination protection, they simply lack the will and confidence to ensure people in Singapore, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, have equal rights.

You want to talk about the threat of gay men. Gay men in no way pose any threat to me and my family. If there is any threat, it is the blinkers and hatred homophobes are trying to put on everyone else, further dividing our society and marginalising those. These are the people who associate an identity with crime and immorality, blackmailing other into believing that discrimination is justified.

It is odd that different arms of the state are not coordinated, in this case, to truly help men who have sex with men. But to give it credit, at least it is taking the lead by conducting a study (which probably isn’t new either). I’m surprised that the report has not received any attention from the gay-haters among us.

I observe that many homophobic individuals (who coincidentally happen to be biphobic and transphobic! WOW! What are the odds?!?!) are in fact fairly educated.

This is a great travesty. You use your bloody privilege of education to enforce continual discrimination against those who are of lesser social and legal privilege.

I strongly believe that if you have the means to articulate, to speak, to write and express yourself in any way that is testament to your good education, you can leverage your privilege to help the marginalised share the same privileges that others possess.

It is because of ongoing discrimination, hate and fear-mongering, and domination of political discourse by homophobic people of considerable political and economic influence, that we get a decent attempt in the survey, only in isolation, but and overall sluggish attempt to improving the lives of homosexual Singaporeans.

I’m not only talking about your middle-to-upper income English educated ethnic Chinese gay Singaporean stereotype, but those who don’t belong to that demography, in fact occupying multiple marginalities. Their issues and needs go far beyond the survey and raise many fundamental questions about our system of governance. This is the very same system whose inaction and inertia represents its insensitivity of the diversity and heterogeneity that defines our society.

Even if the survey does reach its target of 1,000 participants, how are the findings and solutions going to be articulated, and how so in an environment continually fraught with legal discrimination and social stigmatism against sexual minorities?

These constraints are an embarrassment to our society.

I am not asking for more to be done, but merely asking if we have got our priorities right in the first place to “help” members of the sexual minority community here.