Friday, September 07, 2007
An Intermezzo: Reply To Yap Kim Hao
Note: Now that Straits Times Forum is publishing the anti-S377A letters with a vengeance, it is noted that pro-S377A letters are frequently rejected. My kakis in the same “pro-S377A faction” had also failed to publish their letters in the ST Forum. I guess there may be an agenda to influence public opinion prior to the disclosure of the final jurisdiction in parliament. Here is another serving of an unpublished letter to the ST.
Singapore ought to maintain social cohesion in its economic progress
I read with interest Dr Yap Kim Hao’s letter, We cannot afford to wait for conservative views to change before dropping laws against gays (ST Forum, Sep 4th 2007), and the Straits Times article, S'pore must stay connected globally to grow by Aaron Low (Straits Times, Aug 31st 2007).
Firstly, I would like to point out that Dr Yap’s letter begs the question, “How is economic progress hampered by the retention of S377A?”
Singapore has achieved its First World status and economic success using a pragmatist methodology, and not the Western, liberal approach. We as a nation have attracted multitudes of investments, not because of the appeal of Western liberal political philosophy, but rather because of “our clean and green and safe reputation.” (Excerpts of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s Interview with the International Herald Tribune). This reputation would definitely include social cohesiveness, which is paramount for economic predictability and stability.
Secondly, I have to disagree with Dr Yap’s position that the retention of S377A is the product of “a fishing-village mentality.” In fact, the insidious scapegoating of the conservative sector of society by calling them the ones that “impede the progress of the country,” is dangerously schismatic and divisive.
The solution to the homosexuality debate is not via the assignment of blame to the “conservative sector of our population,” but as the government has reiterated in their policies, no Singaporean should be left behind as the nation march forward in economic progress. This would also mean that we must be sensitive and emphatic with those who have yet to accept the social changes associated with globalization.
Therefore, in the homosexual issue, “the Government had to try to maintain a balance between the interests of both groups” through the adoption of “an ambiguous position by keeping a law banning homosexual sex on the books but not enforcing it, and not allowing gay parades.” (S'pore must stay connected globally to grow).
Furthermore, the conservative “heartlander” - using the terminology of our Minister Mentor in his interview - is not a minority group as Dr Yap has implied. Surely Dr Yap is not suggesting that Singapore is to ignore the value system of those who live in three- and four-room HDB flats.
As Minister Mentor has said, “We have a part Muslim population, another part conservative older Chinese and Indians. So, let's go slowly. It's a pragmatic approach to maintain social cohesion.” (Excerpts of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s Interview with the International Herald Tribune).
Dr Yap’s claim of a correlation between economic progress and the repeal of S377A is, therefore, tenuous at best. At worst, it may even create social rifts and divisions, and widen the gap between liberal and conservative Singaporeans.
In conclusion, S377A is not redundant. Its retention only reflects the wisdom and sensitivity of the government in the management of the homosexuality issue, so that Singapore will continue to progress economically as a socially cohesive nation.