A letter by S Rajaratnam published in ST Forum
23 Nov 1988
Why, it may be asked, am I persisting in what is turning out to be a spirited monologue between me and the censors responsible for banning Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation?
The banning of a memorable book which the vast majority of Singaporeans have ignored for some 30 years without serious damage to their health and mind is unlikely to bring Singapore crashing down.
The worst that can happen, from the censor’s point of view, is that, should the ban be ever lifted, there would be a stampede to borrow or buy the book.
The best that can then happen is that, in diligently searching through the novel for the dirty bits that do not exist, many Singaporeans would have, for the first time in their lives, read from cover to cover a masterpiece of modern literature.
So my persistence is not over the banning of one book but concern over the cast of mind and motive that led to the banning.
This anxiety has been reinforced by Mr Koo Tsai Kee’s response on Nov 12 to my first letter. I find Mr Koo’s reply far more disturbing than that of Mr John Lee (ST, Nov 12). In the latter case, I was broadcasting FM while Mr Lee was radiating on a wave length beyond the range of earthly intelligence.
Mr Koo, on the other hand, is a highly intelligent man, not least of all because of his description of my first letter on the ban “as a brilliant piece of expose which makes for compelling reading”.
My inflated ego soared higher still when he tried to shame our censors by stating that the fact that “the movie and book were not banned in the West in spite of a hue and cry from predominantly Christian societies bears witness to the triumph of sanity over hysteria”.
He then goes on: “If anything the misrepresentations should be exposed. I sincerely believe we are intellectually the poorer because of it (the ban).”
So far so good. We were both operating on FM. Then suddenly I lost Mr Koo. He was inexplicably operating on a wave length well beyond the reach of known human intelligence.
His circuitry suddenly went haywire. He says that nevertheless “I empathise with the sentiments of my Christian friends” in the interests of what he calls “racial and religious cohesiveness” — race and religion unspecified.
He, therefore, “grants our censors… the privilege” of ensuring that, out of regard for the sensitivities of the hysterical, other thinking Christians and non-Christians should “suffer some intellectual deprivation”.
In other words, “racial and religious cohesiveness” can best be ensured in Singapore by enforcing, as a matter of law, what on the basis of Mr Koo’s own analysis is the triumph of the hysterical over the sane — Christian and non-Christian.
I would have thought the best way of ensuring racial and religious harmony would be by compelling the hysterical minority to “empathise” with the sane majority.
This is what Western Christian and even non-Christian countries with also a multiplicity of religions and races have had the courage to do in the face of the baying of the hysterical over this book.
And as far as I know, no religious wars have erupted as a result of the courageous stand. On the contrary, placating religious hysteria is the surest way of encouraging religious intolerance and, therefore, of religious civil wars.
Yet a non-Christian and Asian Singapore applies the opposite remedy.
I do not propose in this letter to back my statement by adducing a wealth of evidence, except to point that, today, there are so many racial and religious wars on a global scale as to justify regarding this phenomena as the rule rather than the exception.
That is why when on the day of my retirement from official politics I was asked by the reporters what my future concerns for Singapore were, I unhesitatingly said: “The danger of racial and religious conflicts”.
The reason why Singapore has so far been an exception to what is becoming a world-wide rule is that this Government had the courage always to be on the side of sanity against the intolerance of the hysterical.
Singaporeans would be foolish to think for one moment that they have some divine immunity against religious shootouts.
I would like to back this statement with a personal encounter.
I was recently on a holiday in an Asean country. I was visited by a niece of mine on her way to a girl guide campfire sing-song. I remarked that during my boy scout days I enjoyed such campfires.
“Not any more uncle”, she said, with a wry smile.
“Nowadays we have sing-songs but without campfires”, she said wistfully.
“Because”, she said, “some minor religious sect considers singing around a campfire fire-worshipping and therefore offensive.”
The girl guide officials were advised in the interests of racial harmony and in the interests of “empathy” for the intolerant to dispense with the bonfire.
A triumph of hysteria over sanity, right?
As my niece walked away, I wished with all my heart that, for her sake, sanity had won over hysteria instead.
Transcribed from: http://bit.ly/1nrJful
P.S.: Looking for volunteers to transcribe interesting pieces of text and audio recordings related to recent events in Singapore. Please message me if you can volunteer just a little bit of your time.
Ms Yeo Chee Yan, Chairman of the National Library Board
Ms Elaine Ng Poh Choo, CEO of the National Library Board
Mr Niam Chiam Meng, Chairman of the Media Development Authority
Ms Koh Lin-Net, CEO of the Media Development Authority
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information
Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister
Dear Sir / Madam,
I read with interest the news that the National Library Board has withdrawn — and destroyed — three books from its collection, on complaints from several members of the public that the books were not “pro-family” enough.
I too would like to propose another book for withdrawal from the library for its not so “pro-family” content – the Holy Bible.
Here is a selection of the decidedly anti-family content I have found in the Bible:
Polygamy (Genesis 4:19, 16:1-4, 25:6, 31:17, Judges 8:30, 1 Samuel 1:1-2, 1 Kings 11:2-3, 1 Chronicles 4:5, 2 Chronicles 11:21, 2 Chronicles 13:21, 2 Chronicles 24:3)
Incest (Genesis 19:32-36)
Incestuous marriages (Genesis 20:12; Genesis 17:16; Exodus 6:20)
Human sacrifice (Genesis 22:2,10; Judges 11:29-39)
Execution of disobedient children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Exodus 21:15; Exodus 21:17)
Eating of one’s own children (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53; Deuteronomy 28:57; Jeremiah 19:9; 2 Kings 6:28-29; Lamentations 4:10)
Murdering of children (Psalm 137:9)
Burning of family members to death (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9; Genesis 38:24; Joshua 7:15, 24-25)
Divorce (Deuteronomy 22:13; Deuteronomy 24:1-2)
Disposal of wives (Deuteronomy 22:13)
Beating of children (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14)
Selling of daughters as slaves (Exodus 21:7)
Killing of infants (Numbers 31:15-17; Hosea 9:14; Hosea 9:16; Hosea 13:16)
Rape (Numbers 31:15-18)
I note that most of the above activities are crimes according to the laws of the Republic of Singapore. Yet, some of the characters who engaged in the above lifestyles are given glowingly positive portrayals and emerge as heroes in the overall narrative of the book.
As a Bible-believing Christian at peace with my faith, I must concede that the above passages of the book can be traumatising for children to read (I know, because I’ve been there before). Therefore, for the National Library Board to be thoroughly consistent with its “cautious” and “pro-family” approach, there is no choice for it but to withdraw the Holy Bible from its shelves.
If the National Library Board cannot withdraw the book, then perhaps the Media Development Authority can step in to censor the above passages. We have a duty to protect the children of Singapore from the less savoury parts of the book and help them read the right thing.
I am not familiar with other religious texts, but I would urge both the NLB and the MDA to scrutinise all of them with equal zeal to ensure that we, as a society, uphold the right values and walk down the right path.
You want to know what I’m struggling with? I’ll tell you what I’m struggling with. I’m struggling with your hypocritical Christianity, your capitalist Christianity, your unloving Christianity, your pharasaical Christianity, your oppressive Christianity, your political Christianity, your violent Christianity, your talibanist Christianity, your power-hungry Christianity, your Christless Christianity.
I struggle with your double standards. I struggle with your child-raping priests. I struggle with your paedophile-protecting popes. I struggle with your silence at the Christian complicity in kill-the-gay laws being enacted all across Africa. I struggle with your bishops of bling. I struggle with your celebrity pastors. I struggle with your private jets. I struggle with the gold in your temples and the silver in your bank accounts.
My life-long struggle will be with this thing that you call Christianity. It’s empty. It’s ugly. It’s twisted. It’s devoid of Christ. There is absolutely nothing in it that draws me to it.
So this is what I struggle with every single fucking day. And boy do I struggle. I wish I could run away from it, but I can’t because it’s all around me. It oppresses me all of my waking hours. And then it torments me at night.
So please take all of your good intentions and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.
Thank you very much.
Faith Community Baptist Church celebrated its 27th anniversary over the weekend of August 17-18. The senior pastor of the church, “Apostle” Lawrence Khong, used the occasion to launch “Arise and Shine”, a new building project that will see Touch Community Theatre — one of two auditoriums owned by the church — torn down and rebuilt. FCBC wants members to raise S$40 million in two years for the new building which I hear will house new magic shows by the church-owned Gateway Entertainment Pte Ltd, starring Lawrence Khong himself. In a sermon entitled Journey of Faith, Khong starts out by asking how many of his congregants were with him when the church was founded back in Aug 1986 (following a split from Grace Baptist Church). A handful of people raise their hands, the congregation applauds the “diehards” and Khong marvels at how “we have a brand new church” that is “always renewing” — an acknowledgement of the thousands that have left since 2000? The key talking points of Khong’s
sermon presentation reads like your regular list of stuff you’d hear from any company chairman blowing the trumpet of the organisation at the AGM, but what piqued my interest was what he said about FCBC’s role in bringing forth the so-called LoveSingapore movement and in resisting advances made by the LGBT movement in recent years. I’ve transcribed that section of the speech below:
[From 21:40 to 24:05]
God used this church to birth the LoveSingapore movement. I want you to understand, this is a very special movement. For 17 years, pastors from all sorts of different denominations come together for a week to pray. And then throughout the year — we have just finished the Day of His Power — how many of you were at the Day of His Power? (hands shoot up across the auditorium) how many of you were blessed? Blessed, right? I can tell you, I just met a pastor who sent a group from another church who have never been to the Day of His Power, and they came back and this pastor reported that, “boy, after the two hours, I never knew what prayer is until I attended the prayer meeting.” It was dynamic, it was with faith, it was exciting, it was a very engaging time of prayer.
LoveSingapore is used by the Lord to uphold Singapore in prayer so that Singapore will fulfill its destiny, and now we are beginning to address the issue of the problem of the aging population. We want to build an Elder Care Network that will encompass the whole of Singapore by pulling all the resources of the church together. So that by the year 2015, any Christian can walk to an old person and say, “I will meet that need” because behind you, there’s a LoveSingapore Elder Care Network that will support you.
Secondly, we are fighting the battle of… making a stand against the LGBT… in making that lifestyle as the normal lifestyle. I have no problem — we never discriminate against them. All of you know that I work in Gateway Entertainment. Everyday I see them — I mean, everyday I’m having my rehearsal — and almost all the guys are homosexual, okay? I am good friends with them, I talk with them, and … but don’t make this a normal lifestyle for Singapore, because that’s not something that’s good for the nation. We’re taking a stand, we’re pulling our resources together, to make sure, to make a difference to protect our nation, and to defend the family. God blessed us with this glorious experience of — this church, I can tell you — our church may not be the biggest in Singapore. You don’t understand the kind of influence and impact that it has across this nation. It’s not something that we want to take pride in. It’s because the glory of the Lord is risen among us in these last 27 years. Amen?
Why I Am Leaving the Communist Party By BO XILAI
March 14, 2012
TODAY is my last day as the Chongqing Committee Secretary. After almost 32 years in the Communist Party of China (CPC) — first at the very bottom of the political hierarchy, then 17 years in the eastern city of Dalian, and now in Chongqing — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the people continue to be sidelined
in the way the CPC operates and thinks about generating revenue. The Communist Party of China is the world’s largest and most elite political party and it is too integral to the global supply chain to continue to act this way. The Party has veered so far from the ideological purity of the Cultural Revolution that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but the culture of constant revolution was always a vital part of the CPC’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by the people. The culture was the “la jiao” that made this place great and allowed us to earn the people’s trust for over 60 years. It wasn’t just about making revolution; this alone will not sustain the Party. It had something to do with pride and belief in the Party itself. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for the CPC for many decades. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.
But this was not always the case. For more than twenty years, I recruited and mentored young people through our grueling vetting process. I was selected by Chongqing’s Media Department to send “red” text messages to the city’s 13 million cellphone users. Throughout my tenure in Chongqing, I promoted Maoist quotes, “red” songs, and initiatives to encourage young people to live and work in the countryside.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look my son in the eye and tell him what a great place this was to work.
When the history books are written about the CPC, they may reflect that the General Secretary, Hu Jintao, and the Premier, Wen Jiabao, lost hold of the CPC’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the CPC’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.
Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of leading China’s Ministry of Commerce, overseeing Liaoning’s development into one of the most economically strong provinces in China, and spearheading Chongqing’s social welfare system, red culture movement, and crackdown on organized crime. Chongqing now has a nominal GDP of over 652.8 billion yuan. I have always taken a lot of pride in texting Chongqing’s people to do what is right for them, even if it means less money for Beijing’s bureaucrats. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular in the CPC. Another sign that it was time to leave.
How did we get here? The Party changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money as a Party leader (and are not currently planning to move to the U.S., Canada, or Australia) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the Party’s “Five-Year Plan,” which is CPC-speak for forcibly evicting people from their land so we can sell it to our friends in real estate. b) “Hunt Mice.” In English: get the people — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to give up whatever will enlarge the Party’s coffers. Call me old- fashioned, but I don’t like selling my people a policy that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to pitch any opaque policy with the words “harmony” in it.
Today, many of these leaders display a socialist culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend Party meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help the people. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an illegal alien from North Korea and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that the success or progress of everyday citizens was not part of the thought process at all.
It makes me ill how callously Party leaders talk about ripping their people off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different members of the Standing Committee refer to their own people as “Shagua,” sometimes over internal text messages. Even after the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four, the June 4th Incident, and “My father is Li Gang”? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will the Party push corrupt and complicated polices on the people even if they are not the most logical investments or the ones most directly aligned with the goals of the everyday Chinese citizen? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.
It astounds me how little the Party gets a basic truth: If the people don’t trust you they will eventually overthrow you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
These days, the most common question I get from junior cadres about rampant inequality
is, “How much revenue did we squeeze from land seizures?” It bothers me every time I hear
it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior cadres sitting quietly in the corner of the Great Hall of the People hearing about “shagua,” “grey profits” and “moving abroad” doesn’t exactly turn into a model bureaucrat.
When I was a first-year cadre I didn’t know how to text “red” messages, or how to down a whole bottle of Maotai during one banquet. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, memorizing passages from “The Little Red Book,” understanding how to govern, getting to know the people and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.
My proudest moments in life — getting admitted to Peking University, being selected as the Mayor of Dalian, and serving as the party chief of Chongqing — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. The CPC today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.
I hope this can be a wake-up call to the Standing Committee. Make the people the focal point of your governing philosophy. Without the people you will not have power. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter their power or position. And get the culture right again, so people want to govern for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this Party — or the trust of its people — for very much longer.
Someone has just alerted me to “The Six Ones” (“六个一”), a new strategy that came out in Nov 2011 by which officials working for the temple “management” committees currently being setting up across Tibet can effectively spy, monitor, and gain intelligence on those under their charge.
Since this hasn’t been mentioned anywhere in the international press, I thought I’d translate it and put it up here. Might hear more of this in the future:
Make one friend. Each temple management official should try to be soulmates with one or several monks/nuns to understand their difficulties in life and what’s going on in their mind.
Visit one family. Each temple management official to visit the families of one or more monks/nuns to understand what’s going on in their homes.
Solve one problem. To solve the most urgent, real problem facing the family of any monk/nun so as to make them feel the warmth of the party and government.
Build one file. Establish a file for every monk/nun to document in a detailed fashion their personal and family situation. This will aid in preparedness, understanding and management.
Keep clear one communication channel. Steady communications should be maintained between temple management officials and the families of monks/nuns through telephone, letters and house visits, so as to educate them to love the nation and love the religion, as well as to obey the law.
Develop one mechanism. To build temple management committees (with full-time officials) that temple management officials, monks/nuns and families are jointly responsible for. This is to develop a mechanism for building harmonious model temples.
My dictionary defines activism as “the action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change”.
If all that you’re doing is focused on blocking social change, retaining the status quo, and maintaining the government’s dominance in every area of our lives, then sorry, you’re anything but an activist.
I don’t think we have a word for you yet, but please, don’t hijack the word “activist”. =)
I want to know who’s the smart aleck who thought 7 million capacity was a good idea for the terminal?
Our million-dollar city planners and forecasters, in their mad chase for the high rollers, totally underestimated the power of the little people (as they usually do).
First they scoffed at the idea of the budget market and pretended it didn’t exist, then they realised they had to do something about it, and only now does it hit them that they’ve not been doing ENOUGH.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur gets to consolidate its position as the region’s budget air hub. Not that I’m complaining anyway. Just saying.
As City Harvest Church ponders a future without Kong Hee, comments made by Derek Dunn, one of two leaders assuming temporary leadership over the church, have broken its longstanding silence since the police probe began. If you haven’t read them yet, those comments are available here in a Business Times report.
What raised my eyebrows — and, I suspect, those of many others — was Dunn’s brushing aside of criticisms levelled at Kong Hee and his wife Ho Yeow Sun for their extravagant lifestyle as “exaggerated”:
‘Concerning the lifestyle of Rev Kong and his wife, we know them well. Rev Kong is a dedicated and motivated senior pastor of the church. He has been working hard for the past 20 over years and is a renowned and recognised personality on the speaking circuit. His wife is a successful singer,’ he said.
‘While their lifestyle reflects their own accomplishments, we do not see it as lavish or excessive.’
If I were (still) a member of City Harvest, I would be very concerned with what you’ve just read. Not lavish? Not excessive? Where does one draw the line? And what will City Harvest sell to its members next? A private jet for their very important preacher, perhaps? That’s not an implausible projection — after all, Kong Hee’s idol, Benny Hinn, has one too, you know. [As an aside, a list of pastors with their own private jets can be found here: Every single one of those guys told their followers that the private jet was an absolute necessity so that the Word of God can fly around the world, and that you, yes, you! can sow into this ministry by giving a "love gift". See how Benny Hinn Ministries sold the "incredible ministry tool" to their "partners" here.]
Here are some questions that I’ve been wondering to myself since this scandal broke out, and in the weeks ahead, I hope investigations will unearth some of the answers to these questions: