Tuesday, July 3, 2007

July 2, 2007


No prying on gays but no marriages either

GAY marriages are recognised by some countries, but Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew does not see Singapore going that way.Singapore, a more conservative society, wants to keep its social norms, he said.

But the Government should not act like moral policemen, 'prying on consenting adults', he added.

MM Lee made the point in an interview with Malay daily Berita Harian, published yesterday.He said: 'At present, the West accepts homosexuals, and some countries even recognise gay weddings.

'We cannot go that far. We are a more conservative society.'

Citing the Church of England, Mr Lee noted serious tension between the Anglican church in England, which was more tolerant of homosexuality, and the Anglican communities in Africa and Asia that rejected it totally.

'In Singapore, we want to maintain our social norm, which is that men and women marry and form stable families within which they bring up children,' he said.

But neither should the Government pry on consenting adults, he added, reiterating a view he has expressed a couple of times this year.

'We must take cognisance of the contemporary world that has become more accommodating. ..Homosexuals are mostly born that way, and no public purpose is served by interfering in their private lives,' he said.

Mr Lee also said the integrated resorts (IRs) and Formula One racing will increase Singapore's buzz, attract a few million more tourists and make the island a lively place to visit and do business.

The IRs are expected to open from 2009, and Singapore will host the F1 Grand Prix from next year.

Mr Lee said: 'If we remain static and unchanged, known only as clean and green Singapore, but otherwise with an international reputation for being a dull and antiseptic place, we will lose out in this fast-changing world.

'High-level executives want to be posted to a country not just for an increase in their pay but also what lifestyle they and their families can enjoy.'

Hence the need for a lively pop culture like the IRs and bars, and a vibrant high culture like concerts, he said.

MM Lee also stressed the need for Singapore to attract foreign talent and foreign workers to thrive.

Foreign talent will create more jobs for Singaporeans, while foreign workers will do jobs locals avoid and bear the brunt of layoffs in a recession, he said.'

The more talent - local and foreign - we have, the more dynamic our economy and the better-off Singaporeans will be.

'The less talent we have, the less our economic vitality with fewer jobs, and more unemployed.'