AWARE: More to it than meets the eye

This letter posted on TODAYonline is a very thought-provoking piece on the AWARE saga in Singapore.

Aware: More to it than meets the eye
09:20 PM May 05, 2009

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-racia society, but also distracts the discussion away from its real issue.

So, after all the unravelling, what is this saga about?
Continue reading the letter…

I agree with many of the points made above and I think Singapore is picking up on a very disconcerting trend that is most obvious in the US, where a very vocal and militant minority is taking over mainstream media coverage. They are trying to portray their minority views as that of the norm and trying to discredit those whose views do not agree with them by calling them names.

This liberal, usually atheistic minority claim that their views are superior as they are inclusive. However, by saying they are all-inclusive, they are actually excluding all those who are exclusive. And it so happens that the ‘exclusives’ still make up the majority of society. Now, how inclusive is that?

I think that the current state of technology is also helping the minority have a louder voice in the world. With the advent and popularization of Twitter, anyone can have a say in 140 characters. This is not wrong per se but the way that some of the vocal minority are trying to push their views onto everyone is taking things a bit too far.

The problem also lies with those who belong to the mainstream of society. There is a tendency for them to feel less of a need to air their views as they feel that they belong to the norm and thus have nothing to shout about. Some are beginning to slowly realize that times have changed and that they need to make a stand for themselves but many are still contented to sit in their comfort zone. There might not be much of a comfort zone left for them if things continue as they do.

The AWARE saga has also touched on the issue of religion encroaching into a secular organization, which brings to mind the issue of the separation of church and state, as Singapore has long maintained a secular government. As a Christian, I strongly feel that religion and state should be kept separate, as that is what the bible teaches. On the other hand, so too should anti-religion and state be kept separate. Being secular does not mean being anti-religion but that is something that people tend to overlook.

Some people might think that a secular organization/government should not allow the views of any religion at all. That should not be the case. Being secular means that all religions are given equal respect and consideration. So yes, the liberal, atheistic minority should be allowed to have a say. An atheistic world view is just another ‘religion’ after all. They put their faith in the belief that there is no God. However, they should not be having more ‘air time’ than other religions and certainly should not be calling for religion to be removed from our secular organizations and government.

I would like to end in the same vein as the letter above: It is time for Singaporeans of different race, language or religion, to make a stand and defend the values that are keys to Singapore’s future. We should not be letting the views of one group dominate public debate on the important issues in Singapore’s society.

10. May 2009 by Han Sheng
Categories: opinion | Leave a comment

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