ST Forum: To say homosexuality is immoral is a cultural view (June 18)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

S’poreans guilty too, not just rights activists

I read Lydia Lim’s article ‘Let’s not turn human rights into a battle ground’ on Saturday in which she reminded us what the Attorney-General, Professor Walter Woon, said rather critically: ‘These are people who evidently believe that they and their values represent the apex of human moral development.’

I find the statement rather ironic because it seems to me that there are among us enough Singaporeans who also believe that their values represent the apex of human moral development.

One blatant example is the declaration of the family as the smallest unit of society. It is a matter of cultural view but this value seems to be treated like a truism in Singapore with its manifestations imposed upon Singaporeans who do not hold the same view. One consequence is that only family units, and not singles, are entitled to hefty government subsidies and brand-new HDB flats.

Another example is the view that homosexuality is immoral and somehow wrong. Again, this is a cultural view but its manifestations suggest that it is treated like a hard fact. Programmes on homosexual relations and lifestyles are banned from TV channels, with violators slapped with hefty fines, disregarding the sentiments of gay and gay-friendly people.

A third example is the view that a man is somehow more ’superior’ (for want of a better word) than a woman. This is a view strongly associated with Confucianism. As a result, in some public sectors, when it comes to benefits, it seems to me that men get better treatment than women.

When it comes to believing that one’s cultural values represent the ‘apex of human moral development’, my examples suggest that Singapore is not exactly innocent.

Therefore, I wonder why Prof Woon sees this flaw only in Western human-rights activists but not among his fellow Singaporeans.

Dr Wong Jock Onn