Posts Tagged 'civic society'

ST Lydia Lim: Learn to live with diversity

24 May 2009
Sunday Times

Learn to live with diversity
A sense of common good should prevail, whatever our differences

By Lydia Lim, Senior Political Correspondent

ENTREPRENEUR and innovation guru Guy Kawasaki once criticised Singapore as an one-opinion town.

His precise words were: Israel has five million people, six million entrepreneurs, and fifteen million opinions. Singapore has five million people, six entrepreneurs, and one opinion. Continue reading ‘ST Lydia Lim: Learn to live with diversity’

ST Forum: Supporting gay rights does not make one gay

23 May 2009
Straits Times Online forum

Teach sex education in context of meaningful relationships
I READ with interest the reports on how sex education is needed to counter worrying trends and the approaches to be taken.

There is one important factor missing in all the discussions and that is the context in which sex happens – in a relationship.

Sex education is not just about teaching how sex takes place or when sexuality is aroused. Nor is it about accepting the barrage of emotions involved in exploring alternative lifestyles. These make up only one component of sex education. Continue reading ‘ST Forum: Supporting gay rights does not make one gay’

ST Forum: Self-described feminist mentor’s actions invited a reaction

19 May 2009
Straits times Online Forum

Self-described feminist mentor’s actions invited a reaction
I REFER to Monday’s letter by Dr Thio Su Mien, ‘Gay activists a key constituency of Aware’. I would like to highlight a number of statements she made that serve no purpose other than to confuse.

I am perplexed how Dr Thio can, in the same paragraph, say that Aware’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) manual ‘expressly states that homosexuality is neutral and normal’, and then go on to attack the content of the CSE programme as ‘non-neutral’. Continue reading ‘ST Forum: Self-described feminist mentor’s actions invited a reaction’

ST Forum: Gay activists a key constituency of Aware

18 May 2009
Straits Times Print Forum

Gay activists a key constituency of Aware

I REFER to last Saturday’s letter, ‘Aware has never had a ‘gay agenda” by Ms Dana Lam, president of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware). Since I was specifically mentioned, a response is called for.

First, the fact that Aware has done sterling work for women in the 24 years of its existence is not disputed. The ‘ex-new exco’, in its press statement, acknowledged this contribution and declared its commitment to build on these foundations. Continue reading ‘ST Forum: Gay activists a key constituency of Aware’

Economist: Taken unawares

7 May 2009
Economist Magazine
Singapore’s NGO furore
Taken unawares

Liberals rally to take on the Christian right

A BLOODLESS coup instigated by a septuagenarian “feminist mentor”; a death threat sent to the new president’s husband by a self-proclaimed “jihadist sleeper”; a 3,000-person showdown. The tiny world of Singapore’s usually timid NGOs has never seen anything like it. Continue reading ‘Economist: Taken unawares’

AWARE: Lessons from a fiasco


By Cherian George

4 May 2009

The battle for control of Aware can be a learning experience for civil society activists and the wider public. There are at least three lessons to reflect on: the brand of secularism that works for Singapore; the type of representation that civil society organisations should offer; and the level of transparency and accountability that the public deserve from such groups.


Some may view the outcome of the Aware showdown as a triumph over religious values and then – depending on their standpoint – either despair or gloat. But, this would be a wrong reading of events and only set the stage for more confrontational encounters.

The battle for Aware should be seen instead as a struggle over how – not whether – to insert faith-based values into public life. While there are some societies that interpret secularism as delegitimising the entry of religious values into the public sphere, that has never been Singapore’s way. Secularism here acknowledges that many Singaporeans are spiritually oriented; it respects their right to inject faith-based words and actions into public life. Continue reading ‘AWARE: Lessons from a fiasco’

ST: Keep religion above ‘petty politics’, says Vivian

27 April 2009
Straits Times

Keep religion above ‘petty politics’, says Vivian 

Following Aware saga, he urges groups to be ‘rainbow coalition’ 
By Li Xueying 

IN SINGAPORE’S multiracial and multi-religious society, it is ‘potentially dangerous’ for religion to ‘descend into the fray of petty politics’, warned the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports yesterday.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan made it clear that it is not a good idea to mix religion and what he called the hurly-burly of politicking on the ground. Continue reading ‘ST: Keep religion above ‘petty politics’, says Vivian’

Hungry for change

Wednesday, 04 June 2008
Source: SX, an online magazine

Hungry For Change

Ben CooperThe plight of GLBT people worldwide led Lismore activist Ben Cooper to make some sacrifices of his own, writes Kate Gordon.

There aren’t many causes a young man would consider worth giving up food for four days. Some might do it for a bet; others might forgo sustenance in the first throes of young love.

But for Ben Cooper, a 20-year-old Lismore man, the decision to live on a diet of barley sugar and water for four days had nothing to do with a bet, or a crush. It had nothing, in actual fact, to do with his own life, but more to do with saving the lives of others.

“I embarked on the hunger strike to raise awareness of the plight of gays and lesbians in countries where homosexuality is illegal and to gather support for their rights, and to pressure governments to reform laws,” Cooper says. Continue reading ‘Hungry for change’

Keep our door open to ideas – Siew Kum Hong

Editor’s note: This letter to the editor was in response to this news story in Today

Source: Today newspaper
6 June 2008

Keep our door open to ideas

I refer to the article “Politics, law and human rights ‘fanatics’: AG Walter Woon” (Today, 30 May 2008).

The Attorney-General, Prof Walter Woon, reportedly said that human rights has become a “religion among some people” for whom “it’s all hypocrisy and fanaticism”, that we should not confuse public law with politics, and that some people assume that their definition of human rights is the decision of the rest of humanity. Continue reading ‘Keep our door open to ideas – Siew Kum Hong’

Human-rights ‘fanatics’ is what S’pore needs

Editor’s note: This letter to the editor relates to this Straits Times article

Source: Straits Times Print Forum
6 June 2008

Human-rights ‘fanatics’ is what S’pore needs

PROFESSOR Walter Woon’s attack on human-rights activists as ‘fanatics’ is very disturbing (A-G cautions against human rights becoming a ‘religion’ with fanatics, May 31). Surprisingly (although perhaps not) it comes at a time when the Singapore Government itself is trying to promote the Asean Regional Mechanism on Human Rights. Continue reading ‘Human-rights ‘fanatics’ is what S’pore needs’