Monday, May 11, 2009

AWARE-More to it than Meets the Eye

The story is carried in TODAY newspaper 5 May 09 Online version: below link.

The following letter appeared in the on-line version of Today's newspaper. It puts the whole Aware issue in proper perspective. Extremely well written and incisive.

Online Only - Aware: More to it than meets the eye
Letter from Andy Sim

"In the past few weeks, I have been observing and analysing the development of the Aware saga through the local media as well as online forums. Initially, the incident was reported as the power struggle between its new leadership and the old guards. Then, there was the allegation that a group of conservative Christians from the same church was behind the coup. More recently, it was revealed that the change of leadership was over Aware's pro-homosexual stance.

Despite clarifications from both parties to refute these claims, allegations still continue as to the hidden agenda. This saga was further fuelled by newspaper reports that linked the new leadership to their personal religious beliefs. This instigation is highly inappropriate and dangerous in Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society. In fact, this may have raised the tension that led to the death threats and call for boycott. Such lines of reporting that incite religious intolerance, by speculating one's motive based on personal faith, must be censured. It not only sows seeds of discords in our fragile multi-racial society, but also distracts the discussion away from its real issue. . So, after all the unravelling, what is this saga about? While some may dismiss it as petty politicking by a group of believers in a bid to hijack a secular civil society, I believe the issue is more than what meets the eye.

This saga is an indication of the growing tensions between the minority liberals and the majority conservative in our pluralistic society. Such confrontation will not end with Aware as advocates from these differing camps will continue to leverage secular civil societies to pursue their cause. . This tension is real and will intensify as the liberals in our midst come out of the closet to challenge Singapore's predominantly Asian values, which promote family and social harmony over an individual's rights. And, unless the Government can deal with this decisively by defining the limits, it will create crack lines that will further divide our society. . The controversy in last week's Miss USA beauty pageant underscores the reality of this threat to Singapore. In the contest, Miss California, Carrie Prejean was criticised and reportedly discriminated by an openly gay judge, Perez Hilton for saying that "In my country and in my family, I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." The gay judge blasted her publicly and went on to call her a dumb b****.

This incident, like the Aware saga, was followed by a furore of criticism as well as support from both the liberals and conservatives. Liberal pro-gay supporters even called for the removal of her runner-up title claiming her belief does not represent America. This is rather bizarre considering that a CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll shows that 55 percent of Americans are not in favour of same-sex marriage. This prompted Mr Gary Bauer, a conservative politician and the President of American Values to warn that "the reaction should be a wake-up call to men and women of faith (regardless of race or religion) and everyone who cherishes freedom of speech and religious liberty. The backlash to (Miss California's) commonsense comments demonstrates the naked intolerance of the militant homosexual movement". .

In another incident involving such conflict, the director of California's largest non-profit theatre was forced to resign in November last year after it was revealed that he had donated to help pass Proposition 8 which repeals the right for same-sex marriage in the state of California. Gay activists called for a boycott of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento until its director stepped down after 25 years of service. . In Singapore, the confrontation between these two opposing views is beginning to surface with the emotional exchanges pertaining to Section 377A. While many Singaporeans would agree that the presence of homosexuals is growing and they (homosexuals) should not be discriminated against, fewer would agree to promote homosexuality as a matter of preference. Most parents whom I spoke to, from different race, language and religion, still uphold the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

As such, the majority of Singaporeans do not share Aware's liberal definition that "homosexuality is an orientation or preference, just like being left-handed or right-handed". While the Ministry of Education's spokesperson has reiterated its position to follow the social norms of the mainstream society and to inform students that homosexual acts are illegal under Singapore's law, this information is clearly different from Aware's teaching.

As an open and inclusive society, we recognise the importance of teaching awareness and tolerance towards all fellow human beings, regardless of their preferences and choices. At the same time, we must be mindful of the real danger of cultivating dissenting views for the sake of challenging the majority of Singaporeans. Therefore, it is not appropriate to teach our young and impressionable minds that "Homosexuality is perfectly normal" and "Anal sex can be healthy". Many parents do not agree with Reverend Yap Kim Hao's proposition that "these (dissenting views) have to be presented and it's up to the student to make a decision." Such thinking which is void of consequences is extremely dangerous. Rev Yap is currently the pastoral advisor to Free Community Church which accepts same-sex relationship.

As I am writing this article outside the meeting room 402, the debates at Aware's EGM are still going on. From the commotion inside the room, it is obvious that the real force behind this saga has finally emerged. In fact, both inside and outside the meeting room, scores of homosexuals attired in "We are AWARE" T- shirt can be seen declaring their support for the old Aware. Many took to the stand to speak openly about their homosexual lifestyle to the applause of their supporters, despite knowing that such activities are illegal in Singapore. It was a scene that I least expected to witness in Singapore's conservative, pro-family society. It causes me to ponder what the next generation of Singaporeans could become.

I chose not to participate in the proceedings inside because I know the ladies at Aware will eventually sort up their differences one way or the other. However, I was surprised at the dominance of men speaking at the meeting, including the nominated MP Siew Kum Hong. It will be a shame if Singaporeans fail to take heed from this saga to realise what has already taken root in our society. . For me, this saga has reconnected me with issues that have further reaching repercussions than the current recession or swine flu scare.It concerns the future of my family and the country I love.In addition, it has taught me not to take the success of Singapore for granted, but to do my part to safeguard our future generations against groups that seek to implant values that are detrimental to our nation.

Sadly, many are still ignorant about the liberals' homosexual movement in Singapore and wonder why this saga has captured so much media coverage. The truth of the matter is that homosexuals are no longer contented to live in private, and live and let live. They have infiltrated into the Arts, Entertainment, Media, Education and Financial institutions to fight their cause. In Singapore, they have the additional avenues of working through some of the Government-fund civil societies. It is therefore conceivable how the media may have influenced our reasoning (or the lack of it) by leading us away from the real issue until today's showdown. After this eye-opening event, I am convinced of the solidarity and organisational effectiveness of the homosexual community, as I watch in envy how they can put together a good strategy and execute it to near perfection. This is akin to watching an excellent script unfold, except that in this case, it is not for entertainment. The brilliance in the strategy is seen in dividing the views of the inter-faith groups by focusing on the ethics of this takeover, instead of the issue of homosexuality, . I hope this writing will inspire many discerning Singaporeans from all walks of life of different race, language or religion, to come forward to protect values that are keys to Singapore's future - for the sake of our children, and our children's children."

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