ST Forum: Looking beyond the gay issue (May 3, 2007)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

May 3, 2007
Looking beyond the gay issue

MUCH has been said about MM Lee's recent comments on the possible abolishing of laws with regard to homosexuality.

The purpose of my letter is not to argue the merits or flaws of such an action but to look at the basis upon which decisions such as these are being made.

It is my contention that the value which is esteemed above all else in our country is wealth, material wealth and that is an extremely dangerous ground to be on.

We are taught this in subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, ways.

As an example, MM Lee said this and I quote: 'They tell me that homosexuals are creative writers, dancers. If we want creative people, then we have to put up with their idiosyncrasies.'

If I may have the liberty of paraphrasing this statement, I would put it this way: 'If they can contribute to the economic bottom-line, their lifestyle does not matter.'

The still recent debate over the integrated resort issue is another example. One justification of having an integrated resort (make that two actually) in Singapore is that if we do not have them, we would lose out to other countries which do have them.

Lose out in what way? In revenue of course. We can have more jobs, more tourists, more... money. The fallout from people who may get addicted, the families who may suffer as a result et cetera, these are but minor considerations that can be dealt with.

'We must be realistic' or 'we must be practical' is more important than 'we must do the right thing'. It is not surprising that a me-first (maybe a me-only) mentality is prevalent here.

It is not surprising, therefore, when I take the lift and find litter scattered all over the floor, I squeeze onto the bus trying to find space to get on and find that the back of the bus is still relatively empty, I read the papers and discover rich people scurrying for cheap books meant to bless the poor, and so on.

Of course, some would take exception to what I am describing and say that this generalisation is overly simplistic and I cannot draw a conclusion from these observations. And they would probably be right. However, the purpose of my writing is to force us to think about what is truly important in life.

The family in Singapore is not well. I think this is a statement that needs little justification.

Even while the family is deteriorating, we are about to introduce another factor that truly bears upon the family (namely, the homosexual issue).

While we are out earning our wages, our children are at home being brought up by maids (and this is in no way a slur on the job that they perform).

If we persist in this philosophy of life, we may indeed find that our country remains on top of the economic pile but has lost its very soul.

I conclude with words from an ancient book of wisdom: 'What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?'

Aaron Ho Chien Kwok