Saw Gerald Giam’s facebook post this morning that “WP has called for MRT and major bus trunk routes to be nationalised”
I somehow can’t quite agree tho’; just don’t like so many things to be under the control of the government (that directly!). With control comes power, and I’ll like more players in the industry so that power is balanced.
What I would like though, are fairer regulations. Regulations that protect public interests, not commercial bottom lines. Not just where transport services are concerned, but with everything else as well – private educators, health care providers etc.
I can’t accept the reasoning that passing on the cost (of energy price increases, etc etc) to the public is the solution. It is the easy solution of course — the public has no choice, but to pay because we have to continue taking public transport , right? A solution that increases the cost to people who have no choice simply exploits this lack of choice.
I’m sure if regulators hold firm against any price increase, companies will start finding more creative and fairer ways to address their rising costs. Commercial entities always have — or else they don’t deserve to be in the game. For eg, public transport companies could think of more creative ways to offer advertising space , so that they can charge more and earn more revenue from advertisers? Medical care providers can negotiate for better drug prices, improve their processes to raise productivity etc.
Given the last election’s sentiments, and given the suspicion people are having that transport companies were just waiting for the election to be over to raise prices, I’ll say that any astute government would do the smart thing and hold current prices or even reduce it.
Was applying for travel insurance when the T&Cs pissed me off. Homophobic + discriminates against single-parent families (last I read on Straits Times, 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce) + discriminates against mixed-nationality marriages (last I read, 50% of marriages in the last yr were Singaporean + non-Singaporean).
For “Couple” Plan: Both Insureds must be legally married and Singapore Residents of age between 18 and 75 years of age on the commencement date of the insurance.
Many multi-national corps set international standards for their local branches to follow, that are way above the local standards (especially if they operate out of 3rd world countries). Am irked it does not apply to insurance companies
DISCRIMINATES AGAINST SINGLE-PARENT ( incl divorced parents) FAMILIES
For “Family” Plan: For two adults who are legally married and their legally dependent child(ren). Trips made by any of the child(ren) must be accompanied by either of the Insured adults. The Insured must be a Singapore Resident between 18 years and 75 years of age on the commencement date of the insurance.
DISCRIMINATES MIXED NATIONALITY COUPLES
For “Couple” Plan: Both Insureds must be legally married and Singapore Residents of age between 18 and 75 years of age on the commencement date of the insurance.
I was relooking at some of the pro & anti gay marriage arguments today, in light of obama’s statements. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20026456-503544.html ) Am quite surprised to see what i see as one of the most key reasons, missing in much of the debates.
In the past i often viewed marriage as symbolic, especially in today’s day and age where both parties are quite financially n socially independent, for most couples.
Then, very recently, when my partner was telling me about being posted overseas, it struck me how important a legally recognised marriage was
If i followed, i’d be consciously setting back my career and hence earning power.
If i followed without being married, and my partner was unfaithful or dumped me or anything, there’ll be no recourse for me, the way married wives have
That’s assuming i can even follow her at all, because there’s no such thing as a dependant pass for non-spouses in that Asian country so i’ll have to be able to find work there independantly, or she has to be financially able to support me.
We’re lucky that we’re in the position to do either. But there would be so many people for whom this option is not available, because they don’t meet certain educational qualifications internationally-mobile jobs look for. Even for us, we are keenly aware of how privileged we are that she has a job that enables her to get a PR here instead of a Work Permit, or else we would either have to break up at the end of her contract or I would have to take a huge pay cut working in a neighbouring country.
Traditionally, fathers made sure daughters were properly married, precisely so that the other party could not “take advantage” of their daughters. 30 years ago, when my Dad(or rather, future-Dad, at that point) told his girlfriend(now my Mom) that he’d been posted to Jakarta to work, and asked if she would go along with him. My mom replied that if he wanted her to follow him, he’ll have to marry her first. He promptly took her to ROM of course. Today, i don’t have that option, because i’m of the wrong gender, apparently.
It seems like the legal enforcement of marriage responsibilities kinda got lost, in all these talk of gender equality. But the fact remains that romantic relationships are not like business relationships — many relationships simply are not made up of financial/social equals. Sure, marriage facilitates the joint-ownership of HDB flats, getting Baby Bonuses, getting insurance benefits, getting to see your partner in ICU after an accident. Yet, in a strange, ironic sense, what really necessitates marriage as a legal institution, for both gay & straight couples is not the legal convenience it provides during marriage, but the protection it provides at the end.
I saw this line in the Economist “In July, Julian Assange told The Economist that Wikileaks alone decided what was worth publishing and what harmful information needed to be cut out. “”
I’m wondering if having a single Wikileaks gives too imbalanced a picture too, and what we need is a plethora of Leaks platforms?
Was also thinking about the ethics of the whole thing.
From an ethics standpoint, do govts & militaries should have the right to hold info secret?
i’m inclined to say “yes” , purely for security reasons
Yet i’m completely aware that the very mechanisms that allow govts to keep security info secret, are also being used to keep other info that ought to be disclosed, secret. Which is why we all love WikiLeaks.
But how does a Leaks platform decide what ought to be released and what ought to be secret? Because everyone has a different view/criteria? And are we really getting more info that’s rightfully ours, or are we just changing censorship masters(from govt to a Leaks platform owner) and allowing more players to fuck around with us to advance their own political agendas?
If info that compromises security is leaked out, who is responsible for that? The govts/militaries? or the people who stole/leaked the info?
Should the govts/militaries be responsible, because it’s their duty to safeguard these security info? I mean, if a Leaks platform could get their hands on it, I’m sure a malicious terrorist could too, and we can be sure the terrorist wouldn’t be announcing it on websites but with bombs. Think about it this way. If you engaged a vendor to keep your organisation’s IT systems secure, and yet your system gets compromised, do you replace your vendor or continue with his service & tell him it’s those hackers who are the arseholes?
On the other hand, we could also argue that the info thieves/leakers are at fault for compromising security too. If a thief breaks into your house, do we haul your arse to prison for using the wrong padlocks, or do we haul the thief to prison?
What if the info both compromises security and exposes abuses at the same time? then what?
The Economist reports that “After a week of clumsy American-inspired attempts to shut WikiLeaks down, it is now hosted on more than 700 servers around the world”.
I suppose, even from a purely pragmatic view point, it’s impractical to practice censorship by going after the people who leak info anymore. Technology and globalisation has changed all that. Even Singapore, with is wildly successful censorship practices, is not immune when leaking goes global.
Just from a purely pragmatic view point, the info owners that need to secure info better, and politicians need to take a lesson from religious leaders — “God” is always watching. It’s a lovely world we live in, and it’s beautiful to see how advances in technology and systems have turned the moral gatekeepers from “the gods” to “Big Brother” and now, finally, to “the people”
I was at a recent discussion , on ways that we as individuals in our personal life & job capacities, can ensure that public policies and spaces remained secular. Kinda like how religious groups strategize outreach activities, but just the opposite.
At the beginning of the discussion, a significant number of people took the view that this was a futile effort. What could small fries do up against huge organisational machinery? However, after a few individuals who were idealistic or brave enough to defy common wisdom & suggest ideas, the group norm started to shift. At the end of the discussion, almost everyone (there will always been a couple of exceptions) was contributing ideas. And these ideas are so fantastic I thought I should share here:
Influencing friends/people we come into contact with/students
- Encourage them to think
- Making your stand known
- Teaching children secular values
- Spreading articles/views via Facebook
Spreading the word
- Sending letters & questioning through the media
- Writing blogs/on blogs/online forums
- Write books, contribute to magazine articles, newsletters
- Engaging schools by offering to speak in schools, eg. assembly talks, trainers/speakers for CCAs, supporting science/humanist CCAs/activities in schools
Influencing your workplace
- ensure your work place/organizations have secular policies
- speak up for secular values within work place practices
- ensure procurement rules/criteria for public agencies & large organizations are secular
Finding Champions for Humanism/Secularism
- Finding influential champions eg, politicians, wealthy/successful individuals or businessmen, entertainment industry personalities
- Working towards being an influential person or key decision-maker
- Educating influential people eg. influencing NIE course contents, influencing programme designers
- Finding out who decision-makers in various organizations are and engage them
- Engaging the international community & media
Speaking out on issues
- Engaging your MP
- Signing petitions
- Writing letters
- Organise lobby groups for specific issues
- Start alternative schools, classes, organizations, societies built on Humanist/Secular values eg. providing out-of-school independent Comprehensive Sexuality Education workshop for families who want children to receive this sort of education
- Start ground-up changing-making organizations
- Starting formal Humanist student clubs in tertiary edu. institutes
Strategic angles to take
- Treating ‘religion vs non-religion’ & ‘protecting secularism’ as 2 separate issues
- Getting Humanism to be included in schools’ ethics/civics/moral edu/religion classes. Getting the concept of Secularism to be taught in these classes
- Changing mindsets of the majority
If anyone wants to engage in further conversation on Humanism & Secularism, a few of us are celebrating World Humanism Day this coming Monday, 21st June, 6 30- 9 30pm over dinner(order & pay yourself) at
Small café, below $10 prices, owner-run
30pax total capacity (We’re already expecting 20 people to turn up, so come early to have a seat….. or else standing around is fine too)
Their tagline is sweet —– Embrace your right to choose
Food Review here : http://calvintimo.tumblr.com/post/666680893/kichn-albert-court
Jesus said (Luke 18 : 24, 25)
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Going by the number of millionaire pastors/evangelists & ex-communicated LGBT folk these days, it seems more accurate to say
“How hard it is for the queer to enter the Kingdom of God!”
I am appalled by how our so called best and brightest legal minds make such illogical childish arguments in court and on the front page press. It makes me wonder if they really believe what they are saying, or are they compelled by some reason beyond our understanding to continue holding their grip on injustice, and are hence left with little choice but use these flimsy arguments.
1. “The mandatory death penalty for serious drug offenses here is a “trade-off” the Government makes to protect ‘thousands of lives’ that may be ruined if drugs were freely available”
Since when did we start trading justice for mere its deterrent effect?
If we begin to accept unjustly disproportionate punishments in order protect even innocent lives, would we not have apply the same principle to all abhorant crimes and impose the mandatory death penalty for all these crimes? Rapes, break-ins, corruption, snatch theft, errant construction companies flouting safety rules — are these any more acceptable than drug trafficking and why do we not impose a mandatory death penalty?
Does having the mandatory death penalty instead of a discretionary death penalty really protect ‘thousands of lives’ more?
Where is the proof? Where is the evidence?
How does this even work at the logical level?
Firstly, will judges stop imposing the death penalty on drug traffickers just because the sentencing is up to their discretion rather than mandatory? For cases where judges indeed do not impose the death penalty (even on appeal by the State prosecutors), should we ask ‘why’? Is it because our judges have somehow gone soft and incapable of administering just and appropriate punishments? Or is it because discretionary death penalty gives them that capacity to administer just and appropriate punishments?
Secondly, will druglords suddenly increase their trafficking volume just because the judges are given the discretion to administer the death penalty to an exploited drug mule? This assumes the opposite of course. Do you really believe druglords go “hmmm wait a minute, the judge doesn’t have a choice but to kill this puny teenage drug mule if he’s caught. Yeh, I shouldn’t smuggle drugs and get my drug mule into trouble.” Do you believe that for one moment?
Thirdly, it assumes that just because the judges have the discretion to administer the death penalty, the amount of drugs being smuggled PAST our Customs police & our wonderful police force here will increase by so much it can support the drug habbit of thousands of more drug users. This logic discounts all the law enforcement efforts, and assumes that the severity of the law is the primary determinant of how much drugs come into Singapore. If more drugs really get smuggled in, should we not be scrutinizing our Customs?
So pray tell, somebody please, how does the MANDATORY death penalty actually reduce the number of dead drug users by thousands?
2. “We are sending a signal to all the drug barons out there, just make sure you choose a victim who’s young, or who’s preferably a mother of a young child and use them as the people to carry the drugs into Singapore. And then there can be a lot of sympathy generated if they do get caught”
First. Now, Min. Shanmugam, do you really believe that drug barons will go “Oh poor Mr Tan is not a young chap and has no young child. If he gets caught, he will get no sympathy and he will hang. Poor man. Let’s not use him as our drug mule. Let’s instead go find a young man, or a mother with a young child, so that at least our drug mule doesn’t have to hang if caught.” The fact is that drug barons will use anyone who is desperate enough to risk his life for the few thousand dollars he gets from smuggling. Greedy people tend not to smuggle drugs because greedy people tend to value their life on top of their money too. It’s desperate people who risk their lives because they have little else to lose anymore. Are desperation and stupidity crimes deserving of death?
Second. Under our current laws, children under 16 do not get the death sentence. Are we sending a signal to all the drug barons, just make sure you choose a 15 year old delinquent to carry drugs into Singapore, then they will get sympathy and won’t be hung anyway ? Shall we then sentence 14 and 15 year old delinquents to death to save the lives of thousands more? More importantly, I would like to know what proportion of drugs are smuggled into Singapore by under-16s versus grown adults? If Min. Shanmugam is right, surely we would see a huge percentage of under-16s? Do we? I’d like to know. Convince me.
Third. Min. Shanmugam has acknowledged that drug mules a victims chosen by drug barons. He has acknowledged that young drug mules or mothers of young children are victims. If the law punishes these victims with death, the law victimizes these druglords’ victims a second time. The druglords use these drug mules as a human shield against the law. How can we, in good conscience, allow the laws of Singapore to play to the hands of these druglords? How can we, in good conscience, deliver the deathblow to these victims, on behalf of the drug barons?
3. The TODAY article ( http://www.todayonline.com/Print/Singapore/EDC100510-0000060/Death-penalty,-a-trade-off ) attempts to link the issue of drug trafficking and the vice of prostitution together. It shows how enforcement has improved the Joo Chiat problem.
As mentioned in my earlier paragraph, good policing work is necessary to curb drug trafficking. Joo Chiat got cleaned up without resorting to mandatory death penalty for anyone. On the contrary, another unjust law comes into play here, and this time, it’s an unjustly lenient law.
A 19 year old, to hang at age 20, for being exploited by drug lords to deliver 47g of heroin
A 36 year old, fined $8000, for exploiting a 17 yr old girl, by bringing her in from china to become a prostitute, and living on her earnings. Ok his sentence was upped to 1 year.
( I made this comparison in the TODAY paper I first noticed Vui Kong’s case. Both stories were published in the same paper http://mathialee.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/how-is-life-valued-in-court/ I’m sorry I didn’t have the good sense to link the original TODAY report on that day. If anyone can help, I’ll greatly appreciate )
A search of the Penal Code reveals that:
Traffickers of minors (i.e. children) for the sex trade carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a fine (Sect 372, 373, 373A , or see my comment below).
The sentence for human slavery ?
“Unlawful compulsory labour
374. Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”
Trafficking drugs by a 19 year old? MANDATORY death.
Keeping slaves? 1 year’s jail. (Contrast this to how China handles slavery. http://iso.china-labour.org.hk/en/node/47574 Now I’m not praising China’s judiciary system. I’m just embarrassed at Singapore’s laws)
Was it harsh(er) laws that cleaned Joo Chiat up? Harsh(er) laws that prevent slave drivers from keeping slaves in Singapore? I’ll let the reader decide.
On the day that Vui Kong’s sentence was stayed, I went to court to watch Ravi M. & Walter Woon argue out their cases. That day, I had no stomach to hear the verdict passed. This was not an academic argument in an ethics class. Here was a boy heading for the gallows. I could not bring myself to witness a near-child being killed. I left. Later I heard about the “Judgement Reserved”. I felt sad, that the only way to administer justice given such a law, was to reserve judgement.
I had wanted to write about what I had seen in court, but didn’t as I was too caught up with meeting my thesis deadline then. Now I raise some of the points that Walter Woon & Ravi M. argued. I was honestly shocked & disappointed that a man as intelligent as Walter Woon could argue the way he did. Perhaps, it just goes to show that there really is no good argument that even the most intelligent of men, could be to retain the MANDATORY death penalty.
One of the key points that Walter Woon brought up was that of Deterrence. I’ve already covered this point in my Point 1. How can the deterrent effect be lost when judges are given the discretion to administer the death penalty justly where appropriate? Do we want deterrence at the sacrifice of justice? Do we want to chop off the hands of thieves to deter pickpocketting?
Walter Woon came up with 2 other very interesting points which I cover in my Points 4. And 5.
4. Walter Woon argued that the 15g of heroin — the cut-off point for the mandatory death sentence – is sufficient for “12 drug addicts for 7 days”, what more 47g. Hence Parliament sets the mandatory death sentence with the intention to nab big time traffickers who traffic large volumes, not small ones. His implication is that Vui Kong, and anyone, caught with at least 15g is a big time trafficker.
My question then, is this. How are “big time” vs “small time” drug traffickers determined? By the volume of drugs you are made to carry? Or by how powerful and protected you are in the drug trafficking hierarchy? Think about the military. Who is the big timer? The one who throws a bigger bomb vs the one who throws a smaller bomb? Or the general who plots in safety vs the guy who is out on field throwing the bigger bomb?
If we acknowledge that drug volume trafficked cannot be used as an indicator of “big vs small time” trafficker, and if we acknowledge , as Walter Woon does, the original intention of the law, then all the more we need to make this law discretionary. In this way, the judge can decide from the evidence if this is a big or small timer.
Furthermore, we acknowledge the need to differentiate between big vs small timer, surely we need to consider the circumstances of the drug mule, to see if his conditions (eg. age, family dependants etc) made him a vulnerable target to be exploited?
As Ravi M. pointed out, our courts recognise the status of a child in sentencing. We do not sentence under-16s to death. What reason is there to ignore this principle just because the trafficker is 3 years older than that 16 years?
5. Walter Woon also repeatedly stressed that the job of the court was to administer the law, not to make or change the law. That was the job of the elected Parliament, and it was up to the electorate and Opposition to lobby Parliament should they want the laws changed.
Here, I agree with Walter Woon. I suppose that is why the Minister for Law is now commenting? How can we, the Citizens of Singapore, lobby our Parliament to be logical, more effectively?
I believe our laws cannot be about technicalities. Nor must it fall prey to filmsy childish arguments. I have never come across a sound argument for death penalty to be mandatory — not from a justice point of view, nor from a deterrence point of view. Of course, I’m unschooled in the area of law and I may be mistaken in my understanding. But then again, if I were, so would be many other First World progressive countries.
I’ll like to close by expressing my deepest admiration for Ravi M. I’ve told him to his face, and I’ll like to state it publically here, that he’s my hero, and everything a human being should be.
How many times have we heard people tell us : What are you complaining about? You’re free to do whatever you want what! What more freedom do you want?
We’ve been told: Yes, you can say whatever you want –– At Speakers’ Corner
We’ve been told: Yes, you can love whoever you want —- We’re not going to police folks for 377A
We’ve been told: Yes, you can worship however you want —- But do as we say or you go to hell
Freedom is a good thing to have. We need Freedom. It’s our basic human right.
We applaud those who advocate for the Freedoms humankinds deserve, the Freedoms that do not hurt others
But Freedom can’t be enough.
We need Dignity.
We need to speak with Dignity. Not in a corner.
We need to love with Dignity. Not in a closet.
We need to worship with Dignity. Not in disgrace.
I’ll like to salute 3 new/upcoming initiatives & appeal for everyone’s support.
Share the links on Facebook. Tweet them. Tell your friends about them.
Remember them when you’re in need of resources.
A newly launched website , written after much inputs & research from/by straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered & questioning people :
An Sg website to set things straight. To help set people’s thinking straight.
A website guided by this conviction:
Everyone has the right to an opinion, but no one has the right to pass off an opinion as a fact. When incorrect facts are populated, when opinions do not match reality, innocent people suffer the consequences. We aim to cross out these self-perpetuating cycles of misconception and misunderstanding by presenting the facts accurately and without bias.
Our goal is to spread the message of non-discrimination and equality, so that we can make Singapore a better place for everyone, queer and straight, religious or non-religious, rich and poor.
May 15, 2010 (Saturday), 5:00pm - 6:30pm , Speakers’ Corner
You don’t have to be LGBT to come
You don’t have to have LGBT friends or family to come
Just like you don’t have to be a tree to protect the environment
Just like you don’t have to be an animal to be kind
Just like you don’t have to be a child to believe they have rights
This is a 100% legit, 100% family event.
Have you ever wondered why every country in the world seems to have women or children trafficked into the sex trade except Singapore?
Could it be that we’ve simply called them whores & overstayers here?
are doing a research study to determine the reality of sex trafficking and the sex trade in Singapore. The results would be out in the 3rd quarter of 2010, so do watch out for that (Info was shared at a bloggers’ outreach event where UNIFEM, BodyShop and H.O.M.E made presentations)
The ENTIRE proceeds (not just profits) of this handcream that customers purchase goes towards UNIFEM’s research project.
So the next time you need a gift for your friend —- Go grab a tube of handcream from BodyShop!
My dad is, in general, someone who believes in equality for all races, religions and sexual orientations.
Yet the other day, I overheard him telling my brother to be careful cos there are all kinds of people these days ……. These gay men in all the catholic churches , all the gay priests.
It seems like these days, secularists blame the Catholic Church, religious faithful blame gay people (And yes, I realise i’ve just committed the same crime of generalisation and hence have turned secularists, faithful and gay people against me with a single sentence! so i should qualify and say that it’s the media that seems to portray that. Hmmm have I made an enemy out of the media people too???shucks.)
At the end of the day, this is a matter of respecting people’s freedom to believe in whatever they choose, and to love whoever they want; it is about protecting people from being abused, about bringing justice to those who have violated others while not unjustly categorising the innocent together with the guilty. All at once.
The guilt of the abusers do not lie with the Catholic Church & followers, neither does it lie with gay people.
The guilt lies with
- the individual people who abused the trust of the Church, the followers, and the children
- the individual people who turned a blind eye to justice and covered up the crimes
Just as there are heterosexual abusers and heterosexual good people, there are also homosexual abusers and homosexual good people. Within any institution or setting or organisation, we need to ask if the loopholes allow easy exploitation by either heterosexual or homosexual abusers (ie. individual people seeking opportunities to abuse victims)
We also need to recognise the RESPONSIBILITY that ALSO lies with
- the government and law enforcement officers, whose job is to protect the citizens of all race, religion, age, etc, rather than to protect the image and sanctity of institutions
- the citizens, whose responsibility it is to call governments and institutions to question and checks
- the families, whose responsibility it is to believe in and protect their children, rather than seemingly incorruptible institutions of any kind.
This means that everyone of us is responsible for ensuring such abuses do not happen in our local institutions.
Responsibility belongs to all.
But guilt, belongs only to the guilty.
In many of these countries eg. Ireland, the government and people’s preference to protect the image of the Church had resulted in the delays and obstruction of justice for decades. The disbelieve on the part of parents made victims of their own children over and over again.
The news leaked out today that the Catholic Church has been covering up widespread embezzlement of tithes & donations for years in Singapore.
Now, THAT caught your attention didn’t it. ; )
Before I get sued for defamation, let me say explicitly that my sentence above about the Catholic Church here is NOT true — there was no such news leaking out.
What I did hope to do, was to make a point: When it comes to financial crimes, people are MUCH more rational than when it comes to sexual crimes. http://www.todayonline.com/Print/Hotnews/EDC100424-0000048/Doubt,-dismay,-denial-and-disappointment
A Just Response is needed
Over the last few years, Singapore has been rocked by 2 major financial scandals in the charity sector. In the first, we saw the downfall of TT Durai and the transformation of NKF. In the second, we saw the downfall of Ming Yi the Monk and the transformation of Renci. Additionally, we saw the government introducing stricter laws and regulations to govern the charity sector – a move that many, including myself, applauded as long overdue.
What were the reactions of the public and the supporters when these scandals broke?
Did any donor say that people were just trying to attack and bring down kidney foundations? Did any donor say that anti-Buddhists were trying to bring down Buddhism in Singapore? Of course not! The suggestion sounds incredibly silly to even mention!
Everyone recognized the goodness of having kidney foundations. Everyone recognized the goodness of the Buddhist faith. Everyone recognized the goodness of hospitals, including Renci hospital.
But everyone also recognized that TT Durai and Ming Yi were human, had committed financial crimes, and had to be punished accordingly to fair laws, whether or not followers wanted to forgive them later.
A parallel can be drawn with the scandal that is rocking the Catholic Church now, and through this parallel with NKF and Renci, we can see how simple the solution actually is.
Many people recognize the concept and ideals of the Catholic Church are good. Many people also recognize the Catholic Church has made much positive contribution.
Yet everyone also recognizes that priests are human, and humans fail from time to time. The mistakes made by Catholic priests have been recognize eg. The corruption that led to Martin Luther’s Reformation and also during the Crusades.
For non-Catholics to attack Catholicism for the mistakes of these abusive priests, and priests who covered up the abuse, would be akin to attacking Buddhism for Ming Yi’s failings. For Catholics to perceive the charges and actions against these criminal priests as attacks against the Catholic Church, would be akin to Buddhists perceiving Ming Yi’s conviction as an attack against Buddhism.
When the NKF scandal broke, hundreds of donors immediately called to cancel their donations. Was it because they were against kidney foundations or charities? No! They simply did not want their money supporting corruption. In the same way, if Catholics stopped donating to Church from tomorrow, it won’t be an indication of disrespect to the Church, but simply not wanting to contribute to an administration who covers up abuse rather than seeks justice.
In actual fact, these priests — both the abusers, and those who covered up the crimes — are simply humans who have committed crimes within an organization and deserved to be punished according to the laws of the land, like any other abuser. Structural and systematic checks have to be put in place in institutions to ensure institutionalized abuse and cover ups never happen again.
I have an Irish friend. Here is his response to the article http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8060442.stm
‘Victims of child abuse at Catholic institutions in the Irish Republic have expressed anger that a damning report will not bring about prosecutions.’
He says “I actually started the get upset and cried a little this morning as I heard about the report, which was released yesterday, on this morning’s news. I’m going to buy a copy of the report and read it from cover to cover
I’m so angry that what I feel is that. If, after that report, 800 people who caused this abuse are being given protection of anonimity and immunity….then we should seek them out and give them our own justice….but these are old men and women (terms i use very loosely) are so old now…..that we would be abusers ourselves
One thing you have to appreciate to understand what happened is this. If a young person in Ireland during this time was discovered to be gay or overly interested in sexuality they were put into the priesthood ‘to cure them’. This on top of the sexual repression of the time and indeed the fact that a person who wants to bully-abuse people will seek out these kind of positions of responsibility…this is all astonishing
What makes me really really angry is that kids told priests in confession about this and were called liars! Kids told parents who told them they were liars…you don’t question the church! And because so many people supported the church, our government felt it couldn’t take on the church and instead let these kids be abused…tens of thosands of them”
I’ve rarely been this angry or upset in my life
indeed…..i know some of the people involved in prosecuting this case…..
it was estimated that there were something like 500 child rapists/priests in the Dublin area alone, and that throughout Ireland a conservative estimate that at least 150,000 children had been assaulted. I0,000 of these have been “paid off”, at a cost of $1.5 billion…..imagine how much it would cost if all were compensated…….
and this is just ireland………..”
I hope everyone does also realise that if the Church is made to compensate, where the compensation money comes from —- from the lay Catholic followers who have been tithing faithfully, and whose family members may have been victim to the abusers………
The lesson we must learn : Preventing similar abuse in institutions in Singapore
Seeing this scandal as an issue with the Catholic Church as opposed to criminals within the Catholic Church organisation also misses the point in another way. In fact this may be even more dangerous because it blinds us to the lesson we ought to learn.
Have we looked at the Catholic Church, asked how this could happen on such a wide scale for decades, and go unchecked? Have we asked if the same organisational weaknesses are present in our temples, our Buddhist, Taoist monasteries? Our military? Our boarding schools? Etc etc? If the same weaknesses are present, do we then ask if there really has been no abuse, or if we are simply doing what the Catholic Church has been doing for decades —- turning a blind eye? The moment we see it as a Catholic Church problem, we stop looking beyond there, and we miss opportunities to check the problem that may be also occurring in non-Catholic organisations.
I know that many people simply cannot buy the idea that Catholic Priests are such evil people, who need laws and checks and regulations to keep them from molesting kids. I think an excellent book written by Anna Salter provides great insight and explains the fallacy of this thinking very well. Anna Salter is a psychologist who interviewed many victims and perpetrators of sexual crimes. She wrote the excellent book ‘Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders’ ( http://www.amazon.com/Predators-Pedophiles-Rapists-Other-Offenders/dp/0465071732 )
based on these interviews.
The main point made in this book:
People need to stop asking the question “How could good church people be abusers?!?!”
People need to start asking the question “What is the best platform for an abuser to make use of?”
The starting question cannot be “What are priests/monks like? Are they likely to commit such crimes?” because the answer is No. And that leads to self-denial / defensiveness.
The starting question always has to be, “What would be the best target/platform/opportunity for a criminal to make use of? Where is security the most lax?”
Then you realise that a swindler of money would be clamouring to start charities in countries where lax laws govern the finances of charities.
Then you start realising that child molesters are clamouring to be priests in systems that cover up their crimes. In schools that have no safeguard mechanism.
You know what’s the scary thing?
When you start asking those kinds of questions, you know that such abuse/crimes are taking place all over the world, in environments where we most trust our kids to be.
The USA, Ireland, Germany etc has done very well to acknowledge it happens, and take steps, even though i believe it is far from enough/ideal.
What scares me are the environments, all over the world, where people claim/believe that no/little abuse is taking place. Because it doesn’t mean no abuse takes place, it means nobody is even doing anything to look.
It’s happening all the world over, Asia, Europe, etc etc and i think Europe/US is already ahead in doing something about it. I think we need to learn from this experience.