Here here, look here, Dear Chuan-jin
August 8, 2013, 1:12 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore

TCJ

Dear Mr Tan Chuan-jin,

According to this Straits Times report, you called upon critics of the government or this country to help improve things. Guess what, I totally agree with you! Fortunately, I do know many Singaporeans who are not only critics, but spend their time trying to make things better for Singapore in their own ways.

However, as much as all of them are passionate in the various causes they have undertaken, work is often filled with obstacles. Let me introduce some of them to you and I would like you and your colleagues to take a few moments to reflect upon their work and the government’s attitudes towards us. Do note that this is not a full listing and that there are many more groups and individuals out there who are constantly working on making Singapore a better place.

1. Animal Rights:

Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) – They are an awesome bunch of people whose work and mission are driven by their concern for animals and their welfare. One of their most notable campaigns that targets on making tourism in Singapore a little more cruelty-free includes urging Resorts World Singapore to send the dolphins back to where they belong – the ocean.

Cat Welfare Society (CWS) – Volunteers of the CWS work very actively in promoting a humane, responsible and informed society in Singapore where cats are cared for as pets and treated with kindness as community cats.

2. Human Rights:

Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) & We Believe in Second Chances – Pardon me for the self-promotion here but these two groups, one of which I am very much involved in, call for the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore by looking into more humane methods of judicial punishment. Besides organising events at Speakers’ Corner, running petitions and writing about death-row inmates in the angle that the mainstream media will never think of writing, we try our best to help the family members of death-row inmates by reaching out to them.

Think Centre – Think Centre is one of the two human rights NGOs in Singapore. They work on many human rights issues in Singapore and in the region such as migrant rights, freedom of speech and like SADPC and We Believe in Second Chances, they also work on advocating against the death penalty and reaching out to the families of death-row inmates. As their work is also regional, they help to put Singapore on the regional map. It is important for Singaporeans to participate in regional human rights work, don’t you think?

Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (HOME) & Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) – These two organisations work on issues faced by migrant workers in Singapore. I cannot imagine a day without these two groups around. Do you know why? Well look, we have really ugly employers here who mistreat their migrant workers. Horrible horrible… but I am sure you know very well, you are the Acting Minister for Manpower anyway. By the way, time to change “Manpower” to “Labour” for goodness sake.

Function 8 – Function 8 works towards restarting the process of critical thinking in society, rejuvenate the staleness of a society based on economic expediency and reclaim the human dignity and freedom which is the basis of our humanity through events such as workshops and seminars, that create platforms for discussions and reflections.

Sayoni, People Like Us (PLU), Pelangi Pride Centre, The Purple Alliance (TPA), Young Out Here, Oogachaga – These organisations (and more) provide support networks for the LGBT community in Singapore. They also help to raise awareness on the issues faced by the community as well as seek to work towards having a more inclusive society in Singapore where members of the LGBT community are not discriminated against.

3. Nature, culture and heritage:

SOS Bukit Brown – I believe you already know them and their work but I am putting this on the list in case you have forgotten about them. This wonderful group of people not only advocate against the government’s plan to remove the cemetery, they also organise trips for visitors to Bukit Brown, imparting their rich knowledge of all the history and nature that lies within the very place that the government plans to destroy. Besides that, they also help Singaporeans locate their ancestors’ graves – now that is NOT an easy peasy piece of work.

Nature Society Singapore (NSS) – This is another wonderful group of people. Not only are they involved in the Bukit Brown issue, they also work towards educating the younger generation of Singapore on the importance of conserving what is naturally ours.

4. Online Media:

The Online Citizen (TOC), Publichouse.sg, TR Emeritus – They are not only writers. They run stories that seek to educate Singaporeans about people and issues that have been forgotten by society at large. They play an important part in enriching the minds and lives of Singaporeans, providing them with issues to think about. Remember the old lamentation that Singaporeans are rather apathetic and apolitical? Well now, this is changing, thanks to our online media.

5. Individuals

Besides these groups, there are also many other individuals whose work contribute towards more awareness in our society, especially when it comes to social justice and civil liberties. One of them is human rights lawyer M Ravi. His legal battles reflect his beliefs that we need to put in place a more humane, democratic and inclusive society in Singapore.

Now Mr Tan, I hope that you will look through the whole list and realise that there are many Singaporeans who are actually acting upon their unhappiness about different aspects of our society. They are constantly working towards changing things for the better and most of the work are done at their own time and expenses. Rather than saying that Singaporeans should work towards helping to improve things, perhaps you should take a good look at the work done by people you and your colleagues have ignored, despised, intimidated, sued, criminalised and villianised.

I think that it is time that the government stops being so stubborn and listen to what Singaporeans have to say about the current policies and laws. It is also time for the government to stop being so reluctant to change their stance on various issues ranging from minimum wage to the death penalty. It is time to stop pointing fingers at Singaporeans, but to think about the government’s past and present actions and attitudes. It is also time for all of you in the Parliament to ask yourselves whether you are in office to serve the people or your personal political ambitions.

Now no one is perfect. So please do not act as if you are, just because you wear a white party uniform.

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Rach


24 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am against the Sayoni, People Like Us (PLU), Pelangi Pride Centre, The Purple Alliance (TPA), Young Out Here and Oogachaga – These organisations advocates the LGBT community in Singapore which is dividing the society in this country.
LGBT should not be obvious and open in their cause as majority of Singaporean are religious people and we do not condone the LGBT community.

Comment by Jafri Basron

They are all human beings too.

Being a minority yourself, I cannot believe how you can discriminate against another minority group of people (LGBT).

Comment by rachelabsinthe

They are all human beings too.
Aborted babies are human beings and a “minority”, yet I don’t see you advocating for their ‘rights’.

They were human beings in Sodom and Gomorrah, too. And they had ‘rights’.

Comment by Sembawang Bolo

” They are all human beings too.”

Aborted babies are human beings, too, and a minority, yet I don’t see you advocating for their ‘rights’

They were human beings In
Sodom and Gomorrah. They had ‘rights’ too.

Comment by Sembawang Bolo

“LGBT should not be obvious and open in their cause as majority of Singaporean are religious people and we do not condone the LGBT community.”

Sounds like what is often said about minority religions, elsewhere. Or races, for that matter, for anyone who remembers how the Chinese were portrayed during Malaysia’s last GE.

If it doesn’t harm anyone, I don’t see why people should care how a group of people live their lives, whatever others may think about it.

Comment by A

Does being religious give you or anyone the right to judge? Rather, all religions teach us to love and accept the marginalised!

Comment by James

Your religion is your prerogative, between you and your god. Who are you to impose your beliefs onto others? Small-minded bigot!

Comment by Mozambique

Can you please elaborate how lgbt groups are dividing the country…

Comment by jamal

Rubbish. Even Singaporeans that are religious can support LBGT. Even the Pope says that he has no issues with gays.

Comment by Do they know it's corruption at all?

Don’t create false dichotomies please. I believe in LGBT rights not in spite of my religion, but because of it. All religions at heart advocate love.

Comment by Samuel Caleb Wee

i think its people like you who is dividing the society in this country. Now im officially against you.

Comment by rei

For those who don’t already know, Jafri Basron is a reactionary racial and religious bigot. He openly supports the racist politics of BN/UMNO in Malaysia.

Comment by K

Dear Jafri,

I am a gay man and I do not understand what do you mean by being obvious and open in our clause. How else do you recommend we can work on improving the situation of inequality on LGBTQ issues in Singapore?

I am sure you are one who have certain opinion about rights issues if not you will not be on Rachel’s blog. I am also a true believer of human rights and the freedom of speech. So I am puzzled why your definition of rights has excluded LGBT rights? I think everyone else deserves their own opinions and voice it.

I also do not understand how you came to the conclusion that majority of Singaporeans are religious. Please back your statement with data. While you are at it, please also back your view that religious people do not condone the LGBT community.

May I point you to read more about Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Bishop Christopher Senjoyo of Uganda and Reverend Yap Kim Hao, the first Asian Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysian and Singapore. They are religious leaders and are supportive of LGBT rights issues. Are you more religious than them? Or you are telling me that they are not really religious leaders?

Comment by Bryan Choong

“I am a gay man and I do not understand what do you mean by being obvious and open in our clause. How else do you recommend we can work on improving the situation of inequality on LGBTQ issues in Singapore?”

I believe you meant to say “cause”. Pray tell, what “inequality” are you referring to? Are you not a citizen of Singapore with the same rights and laws as granted to ALL citizens according to the constitution? Do you not have the same access to government services and representation as any citizen does? Do you not get to vote the same as any citizen gets to vote? So what is this talk of “inequality”?

The truth of the matter isn’t “inequality” — which is a metaphorical agenda-driven buzzword to insinuate ‘victimhood’ — but to force public acceptance of an unacceptable lifestyle in trying to “normalize” it. Why is it important for others to know what your sexual preferences are? Why is your “sexual orientation” any of my damn business or anyone else’s? Do you think it’s appropriate for everyone to go around in public declaring their sexual preferences? Maybe someone likes to practice Kama Sutra with monkeys, or another likes to have anal sex with their dog, or someone else likes to masturbate on the train. Is it acceptable that they go around in public boasting about it for acceptance and normalization and then piss and moan when they get none?

I certainly wouldn’t tell you what I do in private so why should I be forced to know what you do?

“I am sure you are one who have certain opinion about rights issues if not you will not be on Rachel’s blog. I am also a true believer of human rights and the freedom of speech. So I am puzzled why your definition of rights has excluded LGBT rights?”

I am so glad you are a believer in human rights. Are you also a true believer in suffering consequences for your actions? And “freedom of speech” never grants, or promises, you an audience. I also am puzzled by why you can’t understand the “rights” you already have as a Singapore citizen? Which “rights” are you missing that every other citizen gets to enjoy?

LGBT “rights” are special rights above and beyond what normal citizens have. They are discriminatory rights that exclude the normal citizenry because they only favor the LGBT. Such “rights” as “hate-speech” laws to censor and prohibit free speech contrary to LGBT, the “right” to proselytize and propagandize the school system with a pro-homosexual agenda, the “right” to civil unions and ultimately “gay marriage”, the “right” to sue pastors, churches, religious entities and businesses for “discrimination” and “hate speech” when their personal or religious convictions run contrary to LGBT. Have I left anything out?

“I think everyone else deserves their own opinions and voice it.”

Someone did voice their opinion, yet you don’t believe they deserve to have it because it doesn’t support your agenda. How hypocritically intolerant is that?

“May I point you to read more about Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Bishop Christopher Senjoyo of Uganda and Reverend Yap Kim Hao, the first Asian Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysian and Singapore. They are religious leaders and are supportive of LGBT rights issues. Are you more religious than them? Or you are telling me that they are not really religious leaders?”

So you’re using religious leaders who have compromised their faith in becoming “politically correct” as an endorsement for your agenda from the “religious community”? What does the Bible — that these religious leaders use and believe in and are given charge of being stewards of the truth — say about ‘homosexuality’? Are you saying that these leaders are more religious than the Book they purport to believe in knowing more than what the scriptures say about the subject? Or are they just irreligious hypocrites?

And what about Islam? How much effort is the LBGT ‘community’ putting in to fight the religious, anti-gay bigotry of that religion? Where are the LGBT protests in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Sudan?

Comment by Sembawang Bolo

Hat tip to you.

Comment by Reddotsg

True social agendi comingled with pretentious partisan elements would just betray your causes …. that the first reconciliation hurdle you have to appreciate.
Regardless, all inputs should be taken into consideration.
However, demanding that yours should hold prime consideration in the tough balancing act would be unrealistic; in fact often foolish.
.

Comment by Tan Hock

Thanks for the feedback, here’s mine:

First of all, I think you have misread my post. I am not demanding that all these causes should hold prime consideration but am telling TCJ that instead of pointing fingers at Singaporeans, he and his colleagues should look at their own attitudes and actions towards those who have stepped up to do something about whatever they are not happy about.

Secondly, there is clearly no pretentious partisan elements in any of the causes here. Please stop trying to downplay our work like that.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Thank you Rachel for your response. My take on this….
Personally i respect and favour the contents of most of the causes you have brought up, whether animal cruelty, environmental conservation, excessive punitive measures, recognizing rights of minority groups like migrant worker and LGBT.
But as I ve said, “comingled with partisan elements” would not be advisable. Please dont take this as putting down your work. This is frank feedback to your cause.
However it is naive to consider “there is clearly no pretentious partisan elements”. This clearly is a turn-off and your sincerity would then be in doubt.

Comment by Tan Hock

What pretentious language. Condescension masked as advice. If you insinuate, have the courage to name those ‘partisan elements’. More than any dishonesty or wrongdoing on the accused’s part, it may reveal to everyone your warped view of politics. Nowhere else is this more evident in your misreading and misrepresentation of this piece, and your terrible mischaracterisation of the “balance of politics” where there must be one overriding “prime consideration”, to which all other issues ought to be subordinated.

Comment by K

Pretty obvious fucktard like you wont be getting anyway constructively…..

Comment by Tan Hock

TCJ is just being disingenuous. He already knows there are plenty of groups out there trying to make a difference in their own ways, sometimes at odds with his party’s government and oftentimes limited by its monopoly on Singapore politics. Now he pretends these people don’t exist, their work illegitimate, and only complain all day, so that his party’s continued repression of voices would not have to be called into account.

Comment by K

if not meritocracy, Ting Pei Ling should be replaced by Rach!!!

Comment by CY

Hahahaa thanks but I have no political ambitions here so even if the current system is not in place, I will not run for political office as well😉

Comment by rachelabsinthe

I love reading ur blog.. what u mention I see tat theres facts to support ur statement but it depends on individual mindset to see ur point… keep going! Singapore needs voices liked U x)

Comment by Licia Huang




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