"It is also well within Alex Au’s right to surface the issue though it was disrespectful to the Archbishop." - Dr Gillian Koh/Senior Research Fellow - Institute of Policy Studies (link: http://bit.ly/OIBAZh)
"I am not sure transparency is the key element that should be respected in this tangle." - Bertha Henson - Former Associate Editor - The Straits Times (Link: http://bit.ly/UAm0yC)
How is surfacing the issue being disrespectful to the Archbishop? Gillian came to this conclusion because she feels that the issue is about the interference of religion in politics. She is mistaken. It is not! The issue at hand is one of restorative justice.
Some of those that have been arrested under Operation Spectrum in 1987 have come out in recent years to say that they have been wrongly detained without trial in the alleged Marxist Conspiracy. They have provided evidence to show why the detentions were politically motivated, and not out of concern for the security of the country. If that were so, justice requires that those that were harmed should be restored properly in society, instead of continuing to assign blame to them and dispensing punishment.in the form of stigmatisation.
The Archbishop may have decided to write the first unsolicited first letter to the former detainees and the 'That we may dream again' event organisers because as a man of the cloth, he may believe strongly in restorative justice. If the Archbishop eventually decided to withdraw the letter, allegedly on the insistence of the Minister for Home Affairs, then it is the ruling Party's politics which has interfered in religion.
How is Alex being disrespectful to the head of the Roman Catholic Church, when, clearly, his intention is to expose the arm-twisting by the Government?
After the Archbishop's first statement came out, the Ministry of Home Affairs released their own statement to the press saying,"government ministers meet regularly with various religious leaders in Singapore. Such closed-door meetings allow a frank exchange of views specially on sensitive subjects. This is a well-established process that is appreciated by both ministers and religious leaders" (and the statement did not deny Alex's sequence of events in his initial blog post (Link: http://bit.ly/QjlBwF).)
Now consider this:
"At about 7 pm last evening, several reporters called me when I was standing amidst 200 out-of-work foreign workers, all of them needing help and advice about their situation. Amidst the cacophony of twenty people trying to speak at the same time, two of the reporters asked me whether I could forward to them the email the archbishop had sent me, and what my comments to that email were.The same reporters who hounded Alex for a response when they got wind that the Archbishop was going to release a statement in response to Alex's blog post, became timid pussy cats when the Ministry came out with its press statement.
What email? I asked. When I last checked my mailbox, around 6 pm, there was none from Nicholas Chia, and now I had no internet access. However, I promised them that I’d check and respond as soon as I got to a computer, though that might be after 10 pm.
In the end, it was 11 pm before I could get online (I tried to check my email on my ipad while on the train going home but our 3G service sucks). And still there was no email from Chia. So I told the reporters that I had received nothing. One reporter then said: Oh, the archdiocese has sent out a press statement instead, just half an hour earlier." ~ Alex Au (Link: http://bit.ly/SDs8Sr)
Why didn't anyone from the mainstream media, who have access to the Minister, hound him for answers to obvious questions like, 'How often does the Minister meet with the Archbishop? Did the Minister meet the Archbishop a few days after he issued the letter to Function 8 (as suggested by Alex)? Did the Minister raise the issue of the letter from the Archbishop to Function 8 when he met with the Archbishop?'
Well, if you go by the logic of the former editor of The Straits Times, they did not ask him those questions because perhaps transparency is not the key element in this tangle. By that logic - Yes! Alex is irresponsible!
But if you, like me, think that it is important to know the inner workings of how our country is governed, and that transparency is essential to a healthier democracy, then the expose by Alex was the responsible thing to do.