Weighing in on Hri Kumar’s “them vs us”

FB was abuzz with likes on Hri Kumar’s recent comments on the HPB issue. Many people appreciated that he supported HPB’s publication from a health perspective objectively.


But there a few points in his comments that we often hear or read politicians or fence sitters make that sounds like concern and supportive but is really as good as not saying anything. The way PAP govt. commented on the “hijab” issue is what comes to mind.

Look, I appreciated the fact the he and 2 other MPs were supportive of repealing 377a, even though for him it was only an academic exercise rather than an actual passion for equality in society. However, we know that the PAP would very often identify some MPs to make opposing point of views just to show that there are “some debate” during parliamentary sittings. So whether one makes a point of free will or was made to do so by their masters, it is anyone’s guest.

Even though Hri Kumar tries very hard to tell everyone not to divide the issue into “them vs us”, he could not help it but to take cheap potshots at the WP for not taking any position, but I think WP deserves it. If they want to be an alternative government or party, I want to know their position on the 377a debate. Keeping quiet or sitting on the fence give no reasons for gay people to think that voting them in as the next government will make any difference to advancement of equality in Singapore.

“But this is not an issue on which the Government can or should lead, and neither camp should demand that the Government bends to its will. It is for society to set the direction. And as time passes, as attitudes change and our knowledge of such matters grow, that direction will invariably change as well.”

The statement above is so often use that it does not bite or even have meanings anymore because it is so full of contradiction. Let’s not forgot that it was not so long ago that many religious groups and Singaporeans were against building of casinos, yet the government never waited for attitudes to change or society to set the direction. If we replaced this issue with “women right to vote”, “black segregation”, “slavery” or “incarceration of Jews”, would one suggest that society should set the direction also?

Secondly, the job of a good government is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. If our penal codes is to be set by society morale or attitudes then adultery, inter-racial marriage or religious conversion will be criminalized. On the other hand, the government decriminalized anal sex between a man and a woman, which must have been due to the majority in society’s demand to want to have anal sex! The hypocrisy of the religious argument is that decriminalizing anal sex between a man and a woman did not resulted in religious leaders and their congregation suddenly have anal sex over night, but yet they argued that people will all turn gay if 377a is repealed.

In a lot of minority rights issue, it should always be the government to take the lead on the change to protect the minorities. The story of Ruby Bridges is a firm reminder to everyone the importance of the government to protect the security and rights of her minority citizens, especially from deranged religious folks, all quoting from their scriptures and religious leaders, even if society is not ready for those changes.

“Last, the battle will not be resolved by the attacks that are usually associated with this issue – one side calling the other “evil, paedophiles and deviants”, and the other responding with “ignorant, religious bigots”. It may be how other societies deal with such issues, but we can and should strive to be different. Neither camp is going to persuade the other that it is right. And they would be wise to remember Newton’s Third Law – that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Let’s raise the level of this debate. Let’s not reduce this to “them” and “us”, but deal with it as fellow Singaporeans”

As objective as it try to show, such particular statements actually exhibits a lack of understanding and empathy for the victims for the issue at hand; instead, the victim is accused of being an aggressor. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that violence, hatred or death threats will solve anything, but we need to establish some context here:

  • how would you feel if for your entire life you are seen as a criminal, you are called an abomination, evil, associated with pedophiles and called deviants. How would you feel if someone called your sons or daughters that?
  • how would you feel if because of these religious leaders teachings, your parents forced you to go through electric shock therapy or dangerous and unethical conversion therapy, beats you up, chases you out of your homes or disown you? How would you feel if this was one of your family or close friends?
  • how would you feel if you get fired from your job, your religious organisation constantly condemns you to hell, people on the streets gang up and taunts you or calls you names, you are bullied in school and your teachers and principal talks down on you and makes you feel undeserving, unworthy and even suicidal? How would you feel if this were to happen to your sons or daughters?

I am sorry, but gay folks have the right to be angry for all the transgressions society, the government and religious leaders have imparted on them and all they ever do about it is to call those aggressors names like “ignorant”, “bigot”, “brainless”, etc. Sure it does not help in the argument, but calling them names is nothing compare to the suffering that they had caused.

Do the aggressors had to suffer those mental and physical torture and anguish that they had caused to gay folks? Have any of those religious followers had to attempt suicide, get disown or beaten up or killed because of their anti-gay views in Singapore? Does the government, the Ministers, the MPs and our judges have to suffer those mental and physical torture and anguish that they had caused because of 377a?

What the writer doesn’t understand is that is just a reaction from the gay folks as they try to grasp a breath when being choked and a defensive block after being beaten blue and black. Only when one is empathetic to the pain and suffering caused by these religious folks, one can never make light of this struggle by suggesting that both sides are actually on equal grounds and that the victims’ reaction is incorrect, unjustified and unruly.

We all know that there is no way to change the view or minds of such religious leaders and their congregation, just as we cannot change the views or minds of Hitler and Nazi Germany, Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda or Polpot and his Khmer Rouge. They are bent on imposing their ideology on the society by killing, murdering and torturing people by proxy to reach their goals. Only history can tell the wrong’s that they have done and the wrongs our current government have done, just like so many issues like the inquisition, apartheid, women’s rights, inter-racial marriage, Nazi’s anti-Semitic campaign all of which were driven by the interpretations of the holy books; I just sincerely hope that we don’t have to excavate a mass grave in order to see the light.


2 thoughts on “Weighing in on Hri Kumar’s “them vs us”

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 17 Feb 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. PRC, a very conservative country by global standards, have already made an official stand that homosexuality is no more deemed a social illness many decades ago. So why is our Singapore society especially our religious leaders so backward in their thinking and still be bothered with religious ideology practised centuries ago ?

    For one thing, I have never heard of Lawrence ever making a stand against Christian priests of his same religious order commonly abusing young children for their own sexual desires but is so stubbornly homophobic about other people’s sexuality orientation that does no personal harm to him or his family members ? Shouldn’t he instead be more concerned of paedophile priests still operating within his Christian faith ?

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