Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lesson from AWARE SAGA - Defending our National Core Values

I have refrained myself from commenting on the AWARE saga up till now, after the dust has settled and new victory won by one of the group.

My congratulations to Ms Dana Lam whom I have the opportunity to know when she was preparing the book on last GE 2006 entitled "The Days of Being Wild". But I am more relieved that the victory is won for Singaporeans at large, not just women, but all true blue Singaporeans in which the very Core Value of our Nation as a Multi-religion and a Secular Nation in public sphere is being defended with much passion and spirit by all those who have attended the AWARE EOGM.

This episode is NOT about how a group of people with a hidden agenda carried out a coup in a NGO, in such a scheming and ambushing manner. Neither is it about Homosexuality and least, victory for the Pink Movement in Singapore. This episode is about how we, as a people of a Nation, view about the precious value of our Nation's foundation as a secular society with multi-religious people living in harmony.

Singaporeans are generally apathetic when it comes to NGO or political activism. Most of us are generally contended with life in Singapore although we always complain about many of the problems and inadequacies of government policies. But the AWARE saga must have raised some eyebrows that when there is a need or a calling for Singaporeans to stand up and be counted to defend what we believe as Core Values as a Nation, many people will become vocal and passionate about it.

It is ashame that the ruling party PAP has not taken this opportunity to make its stand clearly on this episode when it first surfaced. They have lost all secular moral courage to make a clear stand to defend our deep rooted consensus Core Value of a Secular Nation in a society of multi-religion.

If it can happen to a NGO in the public sphere that anybody from any religious segment could just scheme and carry out a coup to take over control of that organization just because such secular organization has different values as their religious one, wouldn't it be a possibility that it could happen to any ruling party that make laws that are against any religious group's belief too? A coup of the ruling party just to assert their religious values and teaching?

Many religion are against abortion. So is it acceptable for these religious groups of fundamental beliefs to plan a coup to wrestle control over the ruling party just to change the law to ban abortion?

This is something for us to think about as a Nation. Someone commented that such acts are just like religious terrorists. At first thought, I cautioned him about using such strong words but after much consideration, in essence, the intend to take over control of an organization or even a country just to impose their religious values unto others, is what religious terrorists are aiming to do! The only difference lies in the methodology, one is by coup of democratic means while the other by force in terms of armed struggle!

It is understandable that why PAP refused to come out straight to reiterate our Secular values for fear of losing support from the Christian community. However, as the ruling party, it should be thinking more about what is RIGHT for the Nation instead of putting party's interests as top priority in consideration. Of course, PAP is not stupid at all and they understand the implicit as well as explicit impact of this AWARE saga. This is why the media is being tasked to become a proxy battle front for them, against the Christian group.

Passion is what we need in our citizens to defend what is dearest to us as a Nation. The initial apathy among AWARE old members has taught all of us a painful lesson about Democracy - Democracy will fail miserably when it is left alone with apathy. Singaporeans should not be apathetic towards the Nation's development else we might just end up losers one day without even knowing why!

Active citizenry should be encouraged and we must not let our passion dies as a people for our Nation. For that to happen, we must first ensure the democratic system must be enhanced or developed.

I read from the papers that this year's National Day's theme would be our National pledge. And I would urge everyone of us to rethink about our current situation as compared to what we have embedded in our National Pledge.

While the AWARE members have basically raised up to defend our Core Values as a Secular Nation, I think there are more to be done for Singaporeans at large to re-enhanced our National Core Values embedded in our National Pledge.

Goh Meng Seng

Singapore's Pledge

We, the citizens of Singapore
Pledge ourselves as one united people
Regardless of race, language or religion
To build a democratic society
Based on justice and equality
So as to achieve happiness, prosperity & progress for our nation


edwin3060 said...

Let's look at what has happened in this saga rationally:

1)Ministers came out to state that the AWARE saga was not about religion--and that the issue was something for AWARE to handle internally.
2)The National Council of Singapore Churches quickly (within one day of exposure of the saga) disavowed any interference and quickly distanced itself from the position of the COOS pastor and the members of the church
3)All other religious groups similarly and very publicly disavowed any actions that could affect our secular society.

So, instead of mindlessly attacking the Government for not taking enough action, why don't you read between the lines and see that the Government is actually acting decisively but discreetly behind the scenes so as not to set off the religious powder keg that underpins this saga?

I believe that the recent US elections has shown what hypocrisy and damage that an adversarial two party political system can do-- President Obama has, very quickly, reversed his positions on issues like detention camps, wire-tapping and troop deployments to align more closely with ex-President Bush, once he was faced with the realities of the situation.

Opposition parties in Singapore would gain alot more credibility in my eyes if they showed that they could analyse a situation on it's own merits and give credit (even to the Government) where it is due, instead of blindly attacking every move that the government makes. Remember, you define yourself by defining what you stand for, not what you stand against.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Yes, indeed, that was what the Government's stand is all about!

It is obvious to many that this is about RELIGIOUS BELIEF that motivates a group of church goers from the same church to take over a secular NGO. Why would the government DENIES that it is not about religion when it is so apparent to many?

Read between the lines? Do you mean to say that denying the simple fact means it acknowledges that simple fact? Please enlighten me.

That is the point I want to make. This Government lacks the SECULAR MORAL COURAGE to even state the obvious.

It leaves it to the organization of churches to come out to "caution" its rank and file of abusing the pulpit for such acts.

Isn't it contradicting to you that while the church authority feels that someone has abused the church to do such thing while the government denies that it has anything to do with religion?

I sure read between the lines but I do read straight too.

Goh Meng Seng

The Wobbly Guy said...

Edwin3060... I can't believe it when I saw your post. Still blasting away with PPCs?

Anyway, the hidden hand is often the more potent one. The PAP doesn't need the affirmation of its secular moral courage when it has better and more effective tools at hand to address the issue.

I've a strong suspicion that the PAP must have quietly leaned on the organization of churches to toe the line, which the churches did. Or even if the PAP didn't do so, a lot of citizens would have assumed they did. The PAP's success in shutting down dissent and trouble groups over the years didn't go unnoticed.

Denying it's about religion does make the PAP look stupid though. =)

Anonymous said...

Dusk has settled nt dust has settled meh is GMS really an econs grad from NUS, I really wondered, such simple spelling errors can occur or another typo error hahahah u knw who am I referring to.

Anonymous said...

Hi Goh,
I am interested to know what do you think defines the secular society's moral values?

Do you agree that Singaporeans generally subscribe to conservative values?

I personally feel that Josie Lau and company was elected democratically (regardless if its a coup or not) and should have been given time to prove their agenda. What do you think?

Thanks for your time.

Best regards,

Benny Lim said...

I am normally sympathetic to the plight of those in the opposition camp in Singapore.

But recent comments from you and other opposition websites and blogs, has made me think that my sympathies were misplaced.

I think that in your effort to be more popular, you are not able to see the moral issue of this debate.

Homosexuality like adultery, pornography, prostitution, pedophilia, have existed for a long time. While I do not deny that they exist, I am not willing that the society I live in should embrace it or preach it as an alternative lifestyle.

I think most of you in the opposition have shot yourselves in the foot. But more than that, I am thinking, can I trust my children's generation in your hands?

I still sympathize with you for being an underdog politically, but morally you have lost my respect. How can you call what happen at the Aware saga a sort of triumph for Singapore Society?

To me it is a sad day, when the media, the government and even the opposition seem to be united in painting this a triumph of civil society.

The only good that came out of this is that the MOE is taking a re-look on this CSE issue. I am thankful that the MOE is willing to backtrack after declaring that it was ok. I think it took moral courage.

Will any of the opposition do the same?

Anonymous said...

Yes totally agree with Benny Lim. By reading Goh's view, I have lost all confidence by casting a vote to him if he is in the next election. I do not want my kids to be taught for alternative lifestyle! Tks to MOE for taking that step of courage to ban whatsoever outsoucing materials for all including GP papers materials!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Goh.

From my perspective, Josie and team has no reason to stand out except to right the wrong.

She is quite happy where she is, a successful career and no need to risk exposure to volunteer work that could jeopardize her career.

I leave gay rights to the gay rights activists. But AWARE has no right to impose their same-sex values on a conservative society like ours.

Whether homosexuality/same sex marriage/anal sex is "neutral" or "ok" is subjected to debate, but promoting these values is wrong.

It is that simple.

Someone has to make a stand. Is it you? Unfortunately, it is not. You are not willing to as well for fear of being labelled as someone who discriminates.

Josie and her team may have lost the AWARE election, but they have brought light to many parents' eyes through the sacrifice of the loss of their personal privicy. As a parent, they have won my heart for willing to stand up for that they believed in.

Anonymous said...

AWARE is and has always been about woman. And in this group of woman, there are lesbian and AWARE's stand is that everyone is included.

This whole thing about pro-homosexual is a tale spun out of Josie and gang's belief. It's a tool that they righteously use to justify their take-over.

Again, anyone dumb enough will just take Josie's word for it without actually understanding the whole picture.

It's like Josie telling you that God doesn't exist. And u just believe it. Haha.

To be honest, I rather have my parents smart enough to know their facts than to be blindly led by some crazy woman who is here to choose their spiritual battle to fight on.