Beware of mislabeling hate speech as emotive speech

 

This is my original letter to Today’s forum and it was published today 30 June, but with some explosive contents removed lolz. Still it captures the essence of what I wanted to convey.

I refer to the letter “Beware of labeling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24) by  Julian Lim Choong Ping.

The writer seems to think that Bryan Lim’s speech was taken out of context. However, let’s not forget that he posted the message on a Facebook social group which fights against rightful tax paying LGBT Singaporeans from equal rights from discrimination. A social group where posters regular incite violence against LGBT folks and posts pictures of beheading, hanging and beating of LGBT folks to support their point and yet hardly any police report were made against those posters.

Secondly, in the context of Orlando’s mass shooting incident,  Mr Lim’s speech brought about fear and panic amongst LGBT folks, their families and friends alike. Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” speech but hate speech because of the possibility of incident actual violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of anxiety, fear and panic such message brought towards the LGBT community, their family and friends. The consequence’s of his message is only for him to bare, but it could have huge and deadly consequence for many more innocent people, especially when there are people who liked and supported what Mr. Lim has posted.

It seems odd that the writer find it reasonable to incite violence against people in the LGBT community and that its an infringement of his freedom of speech whereas. Yet he makes no mention that we have such laws to protect against person’s race, religion and gender. Is he suggesting that our sedition law is infringing on his freedom of speech too?

Any possible consequences of Mr Lim’s action on his employment is unfortunately, but not because of pressure from LGBT groups, but because it is the right thing to do in the context of the company’s own diversity policy. Just like how a senior banker was dismissed for expletive-laced rant against a group of construction worker in 2012. Not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

The Today’s published article:

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/bryan-lims-comments-caused-anxiety-lgbt-community

Bryan Lim’s comments caused anxiety in LGBT community

FROM KELVIN WONG HENG
PUBLISHED: 10:40 PM, JUNE 29, 2016
The writer of “Beware of labelling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24, online) seems to think that Mr Bryan Lim’s comments were taken out of context.

Let us not forget that Mr Lim posted his message on the page of a Facebook group that fights against the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Singaporeans to be free from discrimination.

Members of this group regularly incite violence against LGBT people through the pictures they post, for example, and yet hardly any police reports have been made against them.

In the context of the Orlando shooting, Mr Lim’s comments brought fear to LGBT people, their families and their friends.

Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” but as hate speech because of the possibility of incident violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of panic those comments caused.

Oddly, he seems to find it unreasonable to infringe on speech that incites violence against the LGBT community, yet he makes no mention of such laws to protect against feelings of enmity between Singapore’s different races.

Is he suggesting that the Sedition Act infringes on his freedom of speech too?

The consequences of Mr Lim’s comments are for him to bear, but they could have huge consequences for innocent people, especially when there were others who liked and supported what he had posted.

Any possible consequences for his employment would only be right in the context of his company’s diversity policy, and not because of LGBT groups.

In 2012, a senior banker was dismissed for his expletive-laced rant against a group of construction workers, not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

Show me the money Shan!

The tragedy in Orlando this week has brought up many different issues; internalized homophobia, violence against LGBT community, religious fanaticism and gun laws in the US.

Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam offered his and the government’s condolences to the victims and reiterated that they will protect all its people.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/government-will-protect-people-regardless-of-race-religion-or-sexuality-shanmugam

The Government will protect its people regardless of race, religion or sexuality, Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said at the Khadijah Mosque on Tuesday (June 14).

“It looks like the gay community has been targeted. This is unacceptable. Violence against any group in any form is not acceptable. Here, the government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group. The government’s duty is to protect everyone.

“Their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, that’s not relevant,” he said, in the aftermath of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last Sunday, when a lone attacker called Omar Mateen gunned down some 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Yes, its a heartfelt condolence and sincere no doubt, but to many in the LGBT community, it rings hollow in view of the law and how the government allows and enforces its view in the public sphere. Continue reading

Alvin Tan pity Singaporeans but its really not that bad after all

State Times Review posted a piece by Malaysian turned US asylum seeker Alvin Tan on the state of Singaporeans, which I believe some Singaporeans agree with.

http://statestimesreview.com/2015/09/07/alvin-tan-i-pity-singaporeans/

Although I agree with the gist of Alvin’s rants, its is not that bad after all for some of us. Note that I am writing this as my opinion being a middle class person with a relatively comfortable and uneventful life.

 1.  We work like a dog for 30 years in soul-sucking office jobs

Honestly, I think this describes maybe 80% of the whole world who are working in thankless office jobs or jobs they don’t like; so its not unique to Singaporeans. Personally, I have been lucky to be working in roles I enjoyed and with relatively good bosses (of course, there were some not so good ones too) and good companies. My office job has never been soul-sucking, except when under a bad boss, but majority of my working life has been enjoyable. Continue reading

When anti-gay rhetoric turns deadly

Last year to me was a defining shift in the anti-gay movement in Singapore. I am not talking about churches because we know the position that they have always held. I am talking about people who are specifically anti-gay like those in WeAreAgainstPinkDot, who talks about nothing but the destruction of gay folks, spreading misinformation, hatred, fear and encouraging suffering towards LGBT folks. Most of us usually laugh them off as silly, ill-concieved and even stupid logic and generally pay no attention to them. Neither does the authorities in general.

Then #wearwhite movement came into the picture and that to me sent a scary picture of rhetoric turning in action. I agree with my Muslim friends that wearing white by itself is not the problem and indeed if all Muslims who proclaim to support wear white following their sunnah of charity, kindness, peace, compassion and love, this would not be an issue. However, the premise of starting the #wearwhite movement was someone incessed that Pink Dot 2014 happend on the Muslim holy month and of having Muslim representative in their promotional video as sign of inclusiveness and love. I think we all can see the irony of it a movement to as Muslims to be pure at heart is started by someone angry and feeling incessed by insults. This is not different from many gay conversion movements that were started by gay people and who later regretted their involvements. Continue reading

PM Lee is right, Singapore is not ready for gay marriage

Many bloggers took PM Lee to task for one of the article recently.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/singapore-not-ready-same-sex-marriage-society-still-cons

Apparently one of the journalist asked PM Lee about gay marriage in Singapore and he said that Singapore is not ready for it because we are conservative society. He also noted that “We do not harass them or discriminate against them” and also that most Singaporeans would not want LGBT community to the the tone for Singapore society.  He, of course, warned against pushing the agenda too hard in case of strong pushback and that the views are very entrenched and that people get angrier as they discuss it.

Personally, I feel that journalist had asked the wrong question. Of course, PM Lee is right that we are not ready for gay marriage because we are jumping the gun on this. With penal code 377a still looming over the heads of gay men and an unofficial policy of non positive portrayal of “gay lifestyle”, we still have a long way to go before we discuss about gay marriage. So I feel that some folks are being unfair to PM Lee on this because the question was the wrong one to ask. Continue reading

The old man and his island

I respect Mr. LKY that is for sure. For his tenacity, vision, frugality and ability to make things happen. Reading about the red box nearly brought me to tears to hear about his dedication and frugality. I would be a hypocrite to say that his works means nothing to me, when I have enjoyed my life as a typical middle-class Singaporean, writing about this in my nice comfortable room and enjoying the fruits of our progress throughout the coming 50 years; be it clean water, safe city, effective public transport system, greenery throughout and all the creature comforts that we have that some of our neighboring countries clamor for.

At the same time, I do have to acknowledge that it is not a bed of roses for everyone. To me, it would be most disrespect to “over-praise” his achievements without understanding how they came about and what we have been led to believe over the years. Indeed, I hear once too  often many Singaporeans ranting off how LKY took a fishing village and made it Singapore we have today. This is not just disrespectful because they are misrepresenting him and his works but a bit too ignorant of the conditions and life of Singapore in 1965.

Some people thinks that that LKY does not deserve the credit to be the father of Singapore, because not all the work was done by him, I beg to differ. I see his relation to Singapore as how I see Steve Jobs is to Apple. After Steve left Apple, the company went downhill and only revive after Steve was reinstated. Steve didn’t “design” the ipod or iphone, but his vision of what his wants to happen made it happen. Steve was a visionary and ruthless at it, which is why Apple can be so successful and so is LKY. I have no doubts that without LKY visions, charisma, drive and ruthless, I would not have enjoyed much of Singapore as I enjoyed as I grew up in this tiny island.

Many people also criticized him for this ruthlessness and political manipulation starting from Mr. Lim Chin Siong and, of course, many other victims since. All I can say is that I believe Mr. Lee had a vision of what he wanted Singapore to be and he would stop at nothing to prevent that from failing. Without getting Mr. Lim out of the way, LKY could not gain control of PAP and did what he did, and it is indeed unfortunate that he was just better at political manipulation than the next person. And I have no doubts that he was really concerned about Singapore, Singaporean and its survival and this has occupied his mind since the day that his took office. It is around his vision that he did what he thought was the best for Singapore and Singaporeans, i.e. that that PAP was the best party for Singapore and everything must be done to ensure that PAP is and continues to be majority and controlling party because it was the best for Singapore. To its end, many political tools were enacted to ensure the success of PAP, which, I believe, to LKY was the best for the survival of Singapore.

Regarding the climate of political fear and prosecution, it is hard to say what would have happened if we had full democracy from the birth of the nation. Would we still have a Singapore like this or would we still be under-develop with politician fighting in parliament? But because we cannot turn the clock and experiment with an alternative Singapore, it would not be fair to say what would have been better at that point in time. Personally, I wished that everyone had at least a fair and just trial and we know that everything is not what it seems according to what Straits Times or our government in power would say.

Just as the slave system helped built America, the Japanese occupation resulted in a rise of independent South East Asia or the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima stopped Japaneses occupation or that Nazi Germany’s cruel medical experiments brought some new medical insights to the medical world. The reason why airplanes are so safe is also because of the number of air plane disasters over the years that resulted in safer and safer air planes. In many ways, we are all beneficiary of some form of injustice, cruel and deaths; the same can be said about the old man and the rise of Singapore. However, knowing what we know now, would we want to see a repeated of all those forms of death, injustice and cruelty? We cannot turn back the clock, but we can jolly well learn from history and use our new insights and wisdom to make a better world without those historical requisites.

Some people commented that a true leader is prepared to sacrifice for the sake of the whole. I call it a bluff because only if you are willing to sacrifice yourself, your family, children and life for that leader, then you are qualified to say something like that. Also it is my observation that who supported or are indifferent about LKY and PAP’s persecution of political enemies and political gerrymandering are the ones who never had to experience the repression and fear of being on the wrong side of the political divide or the wrong side of law, e.g. 377a. But what is most interested is that folks, not all, impacted by those agenda are not necessarily just an angry bunch of folks ready for revenge. Many of them are even more driven to make a difference to the lives of people around them, to help them, to care for them, especially those persecuted wrongly, discriminated or without a voice.

The old man and his island. The father of Singapore, I salute you for all that you have done, the good and bad, for your dedication, tireless hard work and perseverance of making Singapore a worthy place to be and to stay. For putting Singapore on the map when our size only occupy an alphabet in the maps and for making everyone else wished that they had had a leader such as you in their country.

Thank you and farewell.

Growing pains and collateral damage

Here is what I have to say about hecklegate (as some bloggers so aptly put it):

1. Not happy with protest does not equal pro-PAP

Just because someone gets pissed off with or disagrees with RN and HHH and #ReturnOurCPF protest because of the perceived heckling during a charity event, doesn’t make them a PAP lackey or sympathizer. Even if they are just pissed off with the protest itself without the incident, it still doesn’t make them pro-PAP. There are many reasons why people don’t agree with the protest, even though they may agree with some of the issues with our CPF and even the proposed solutions. I find it astounding (but not surprising) how some immature folks can draw such conclusions just because one dislike what happened. Continue reading