Letters voicing against M1 Fringe Festival, are not from the ‘silent majority’

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Alfian Sa’at, local playwright responds to the letter from Ms Tam Wai Jia, a medical doctor, titled ‘Shows with nudity are disguising lewdness as art,’ published by Today Online on 1 December.

By Alfian Sa’at

First and foremost, I'm glad that the letter-writer has identified herself. It makes it easier to understand where she's coming from.

This Dr Tam Wai Jia, in a post on the Focus On the Family Website (alarm bells going ding-ding), stated "I also cannot thank...Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong and Cornerstone Community Church enough, for their encouragement during my journey."

Who is Pastor Yang? Ding-ding-ding!

In April this year, Pastor Yang took issue with a Pink Dot video, and penned a blog post asserting that "a homosexual Christian is an oxymoron".

In 2013, he wrote:

"We must sound the trumpet because the church must get herself into battle footing, and be battle-ready. The first salvo was fired by the Senior Pastor of FCBC this week on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) issue and the churches are beginning to mobilise themselves not just for this battle, but for the many battles ahead of us. The LGBT bloc will of course be outraged, but that is to be expected. We must make a stand for righteousness in this nation. This war is winnable and the church will arise victorious."

Subsequently, the paragraph was amended to remove all references to LGBT's. But a police report was made saying that Yang's martial language was an 'incitement to violence'. Yang was investigated but not charged.

While on the surface the recent firestorm over the Fringe Festival might be about nudity, I personally feel there was more than met the eye. That original post exhorting collective action mentioned that one of the artists in the fringe was an "openly homosexual dancer", even though this was not mentioned in any of the publicity. It reeked of mobilising homophobic panic to start another astroturfing campaign.

Why does it always lead to the usual suspects? FCBC, Church of Our Saviour, Cornerstone Community Church. Lawrence Khong, Derek Hong, Yang Tuck Yoong...

These letters are not from the 'silent majority'. I feel that if you ask some heartlander apek about the works you'd probably get responses like 'like that also art ah?' or 'wah, this ang moh char bor take off clothes when giving lecture, the ticket how much?' or 'last time ah, can go Neptune Theatre see topless show. But if this kind, say 'artistic' one ah, not nice one. Last time the Crazy Horse show at Clarke Quay also say 'artistic'--cannot see anything one.'

No, these are letters from a very vocal minority that sees the arts as a place where they should assert the influence of their religion. 'Disguising lewdness as art'? I'd like to hear the writer respond to someone saying that her letter is 'disguising power-hungry secularism-threatening evangelical dominionism as a complaint from the public'.