By Raphael Wong
I have previously written some articles for your blog. I am also a fan of Alfia’an Saat’s work. The latter comes with one reservation – as a socially conservative, politically-liberal Catholic, I am a fan of all his poetry that does not cover homosexual themes.
I am writing this letter to show that not only the “usual suspects” care about the possibly-sexualized elements of the Festival. I consider myself part of the “silent majority”.
I find that Alfia’an and other article-writers at TOC tend to dismiss this idea of a silent majority too readily. I think this is a big mistake, especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s.
In America, the liberals thought they were on a winning until they crashed on 8 November. At Donald Trump’s victory rally, a group of supporters held up a big banner. The banner read, “The Silent Majority supports Trump”.
The analysis of the Silent Majority – including in the Straits Times – tends to focus on economic issues. But ideological issues matter too. This “flyover country” voted against being labelled racist, sexist and homophobic, and then ignored by the economy.
Mr Sa’at’s “heartlanders” are the equivalent of “flyover country”, the unsophisticated people who will just go with any flow. How certain is he that real heartlanders do not attend Cornerstone or FCBC?
His supporters might wish consider why the PAP wins every election by playing Donald Trump.
The PAP is not a demagogue like Donald Trump. But they are as nationalistic as Trump is. Even the policy of encouraging foreign investment is basically sold under “make Singapore great”.
The quality of its policies vis-à-vis the Opposition is not effectively scrutinized, because the Opposition are tarred with the “make Singapore like Western countries” label. This is worsened by the endorsement of the Opposition by TOC or AWARE or Maruah or - sometimes – the US government, which appear to bend Singapore toward uncritically following cultural norms in Europe and North America. Just like in America, where “Make America Great Again” resonated more strongly than “unity in diversity”.
And again, dragging out the canard of “homophobic panic” – an equally Western term – alongside “secularism-threatening” - Ding-ding-ding! For religious people – alienates you even more from the Singaporean discourse. Secularism in Singapore is based around having a common secular space where everyone of all beliefs – including those that Mr Sa’at and TOC disapprove of – can interact; Mr Sa’at’s secularism is the New Atheism of the West where opinions – and people – must be screened out of religious concepts before being admitted to the public space. The end state of Mr Sa’at’s secularism is the chilling ghettoization of all religion illustrated in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
I would ask Mr Sa’at, how is this secularism of his any less power-hungry than the “Evangelical Dominionism” he so decries?
There is a silent majority – the 70% who vote for the nationalist PAP at every election, and Mr Sa’at and TOC would be wise to bear that in mind.
Editor's note - It is still a given fact that vocal objections towards positive portrayal of LGBT or liberal issues are largely from the religious groups, as shown in Alfian's piece on the letter writer on Today. It is one thing to profess one's right to believe in certain matters but another when one seeks to rob the rights of another because of one's faith.