The controversy with the SPPA

By Ghui

Given that a supposed lack of babies has given rise to some of the most hotly contested issues our country has faced of late (the rise of immigrants being but one of these), it is no wonder that a symposium organised by the Singapore Planned Parenthood Association (SPPA) garnered so much interest.

In theory, I agree with Dr Sundardas that “Honour, trust, respect, industriousness, accountability” are core values. I also believe that divergent views should be tolerated and accepted however much we may disagree with them personally. That is after all the hallmark of a true democracy and we cannot only propagate the values we believe in.

Why then did the symposium involve only conservative speakers? If people are to be given knowledge so that the public can make up its mind, surely then all viewpoints on the subject matter should be invited so that the public can make an educated choice? The public cannot be said to be “informed” if there is any hint of a slant in opinion. Such symposiums should be aimed at objective dialogue and any hint of an agenda destroys the credibility of the symposium and to a certain extent, the SPPA.

While I respect all of Dr, Melvin Wong’s credentials, I think it would be hard-pressed for anyone to argue that he is entirely objective. How could he be if he genuinely believes that homosexuals ought to be “cured”? Homosexuality is not a disease that requires treatment. It is a sexual orientation between two consenting adults. Whether you believe it to be morally correct is a separate issue – that is the subject matter of another article and I do not wish to digress.

Shouldn’t the keynote speaker be someone who has no expressed views on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality and approaches the topic from a purely academic and scientific point of view? Surely, that is the only way for a well reasoned debate and discussion that can truly flush out all concerns and questions the public might have from proponents on different sides of the fence?

Based on what I have read, it does seem like the SPPA is skirting the issue a bit. They appear to have wanted to perpetuate a “conservative” approach to the issue of homosexuality while hiding behind the banner of a fair and open debate of the issue.

This begs the question of the objective of the symposium – is it to insidiously promote family (being a married male and female with kids) or is it genuinely for the public to seek clarity on the topic of homosexuality?

Asked why the lineup of speakers appeared to be mostly conservative, Dr Sundardas stressed the difference between gender and core values.

“Honour, trust, respect, industriousness, accountability — those are core values,” said Dr Sundardas. “I don’t want to see heterosexuality as a core value — that’s gender. It’s okay to know different sexual preferences but we should first and foremost ground children in good core values before they grow older and decide for themselves what sexual orientation they are or want to be.”

Instead of answering the question directly on why only conservative speakers were fielded, he opted for trying to distinguish between gender and core values.

There are certainly plenty of candidates that could have represented the homosexual community along with the more so-called conservative mainstream representatives. An objective third party could then have mediated the panel.

Surely it is honourable and respectful to adequately reflect all walks of life? Isn’t that the only accountable way to run a symposium aimed at educating the public? Making sure that all divergent opinions are fielded is to be industrious at informing the public. It is also the only way trust can be fostered. Perhaps the SPPA should consider how these core values are being reflected from within.

Image: Screen capture from Yahoo! News