Open letter to Archbishop Goh on eulogy to Lee Kuan Yew

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Memorial mass for Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 27 March 2015, St Joseph's Church (image - Archdiocese of Singapore)

Memorial mass for Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 27 March 2015, St Joseph's Church (image - Archdiocese of Singapore)

By Stephen Chang

Archbishop William Goh’s eulogy on Lee Kuan Yew published on the website of the Singapore Catholic Church on 27 March under the title “The Founding Father as a Befitting Title given to Mr Lee Kuan Yew” was written in his capacity as the Archbishop of Singapore.

If the eulogy was written in Archbishop Goh’s private personal capacity I would not comment as everyone is entitled to his personal views. William Goh is the Archbishop of all Catholics in Singapore. He is within his rightful pastoral duty if he wrote to ask all Catholics to pray for the repose of the soul of LKY. However, he was seriously out of step when he, as leader of the whole Catholic community in Singapore, took the position to elevate LKY to almost a saint. Archbishop Goh must be aware, and if he is not he should be, that not all Catholics in Singapore share the adulation of LKY. Even if the majority does, is Archbishop Goh not the Archbishop of all Catholics in Singapore? Did Jesus ignore the minority?

Archbishop Goh in his eulogy referred to the Marxist conspiracy as a fact. Is the Archbishop not aware that, following Operation Spectrum (against the Marxist conspiracy) in 1987, LKY threatened the Catholic Church, resulting in the Church’s withdrawal of support to those detained without trial, including several workers from the Catholic Church, and that these people were subjected to violence and torture at the hands of LKY’s henchmen? Archbishop Goh’s predecessor, Archbishop Yong, cowered to LKY’s threat by stopping four Catholic priests, who were not among those detained, from carrying out their pastoral work at the behest of LKY who objected to their activities of social work amongst Singaporean and immigrant workers and labelled their work as communist-inspired. Yong subsequently closed down the Justice and Peace Commission and the Geylang Catholic Centre for Foreign Workers on the basis of LKY’s view, without the slightest evidence, that these organisations were infiltrated by communists and communist sympathisers.

Is Archbishop Goh not aware that the Catholic family of Vincent Cheng, who had trained to be a priest and was one of the detainees, felt totally betrayed by Yong. Nicholas Cheng, brother of Vincent, in his writing “That we may dream again” recounted their family experiences when they sought the help of Yong following the detention of Vincent: “Mum and Dad accompanied by Gerard, his wife Anita and myself, together with some of Vincent’s friends visited the Archbishop to seek his help to find out what was really happening. That happened to be the very day when the Archbishop had been summoned earlier for a meeting at the Istana. We were utterly shocked to hear him (Yong) say that he did “not know Vincent” who was working for him (Yong) at the time ... one of Vincent’s friends spat on the floor to show his disgust for the head of the Church who had abandoned his sheep”.

Has Archbishop Goh not read the recently published book by Fr G Arotcarena (one of the four priests referred to above) where he recounted that the real intention of Operation Spectrum was to rein in those sections of the Catholic Church that was considered to be too unruly (i. e. critical of social injustices in Singapore through their social work) to toe the line of the authoritarian PAP state.

Is Archbishop Goh not aware that the Far Eastern Economic Review, a publication dedicated to capitalism and not a millimetre near any left wing tendencies, had its circulation restricted because of an article on LKY’s empty allegations about a Marxist conspiracy? What was LKY afraid of that could be revealed in the Far Eastern Economic Review? Every publication on the Marxist conspiracy, other than those controlled by the PAP government, at worst question and at best state that there was no basis for the allegation that there was a Marxist conspiracy. Yet Archbishop Goh in his eulogy referred to the Marxist conspiracy as a fact.

While it is understandable that the Singapore Catholic Church has to tread carefully so as not to be perceived to be on the wrong side of the Singapore government, has Archbishop Goh got to stoop so low and grovel to be a mouthpiece of PAP’s propaganda? Even the Vatican, which kept a deafening silence in the face of Nazi atrocities, some say for its own survival, did not become a mouthpiece of Nazism. So why must Archbishop Goh use his position and the website of the Singapore Catholic Church to promote LKY? Shouldn’t Archbishop Goh keep to the role as the head of an independent religious organisation and ask its faithful to pray for the repose of LKY’s soul without putting that man so very high on the pedestal? Is Archbishop Goh attempting to turn the Singapore Catholic Church into a pillar of the PAP in view of the widespread dissatisfaction of Singaporeans with the PAP in recent years? You would think so if you read Archbishop Goh’s eulogy.

Is Archbishop Goh not aware that LKY detained without trial for 32 years Dr Chia Thye Poh who was not a member of any communist party (5 years longer than Nelson Mandela who at the time of his detention was a member of South Africa Communist Party)? Did the Singapore Catholic Church publish a eulogy on its website following the death in 2012 of Dr Lim Hock Siew who was detained by LKY for almost 20 years? Was not Lim a man of principles, courage, integrity who sacrificed his life for the greater good? Was he not acting in accordance with his conscience? Would not Lim or Chia and many other towering figures of the 1960s, who were ruthlessly and mercilessly crushed by LKY using the full force of the state, have made Singapore a better place for all Singaporeans?

Archbishop Goh, in his eulogy of 1,844 words on LKY, devoted a mere 139 words in one paragraph to LKY’s morally depraved, ruthless persecution of political opponents outside the norm of civilised rule of law. Included in the 139 words, 48 words were devoted to justifying LKY’s ruthlessness on the grounds that it was done “out of his (LKY’s) conviction that that was needed to protect and ensure the survival of” Singapore and that “he (LKY) did what his conscience led him to do for the good of the nation”.

So Archbishop Goh on behalf of the Singapore Catholic Church would condone vile actions of the state and its leaders if the leaders were acting in accordance with their convictions and conscience that tell them such vile actions are good for the nation? So the brutal invasion of Singapore by fascist Japan during the Second World War could be justified because its leaders were acting in accordance with their convictions and conscience and their action was needed to protect the survival of Japan?

I was a Catholic but I have not participated in the Catholic rituals since 1970. However, I have not abandoned the moral principles and values taught by Catholicism. I value the selfless good work done by Catholics. I still have regular dinners, as a small gesture of appreciation and thanks, with Catholic missionaries who were my teachers in the 1950s and 1960s and are now in their eighties.

I am not anti-Catholic, but I am deadly anti those Catholic establishments that choose to side with those who persecute others especially the minorities. Thankfully the present Pope Francis seems to be attempting to expose the hypocrisy of the decadent part of the Catholic Church and lead that part of the Church out of its medieval mindset.

Stephen Chang is currently based in the UK.

  • sharkAttack777

    Persecutions of Christians by leaders like Saul have been documented in the bible too. As long as he repent and ask for God’s forgiveness Grace will also be upon him. Christians should never fear persecution as they are glory to God.

    • Chin

      The bible takes the “grand scheme of things” approach. Getting torn apart by lions, crucified, beheaded, etc are not fates you wish upon your fellow man. To think that Archbishop was so easily cowed by LKY to abandon his flock, showed that he does not deserve his post as head of the Catholic community. Your God would shake his head at such a pathetic scrap of biomass. If the Catholic Church and you are such fine specimens, why haven’t you been persecuted yet? Grace be upon you, I’ll be praying for you when you’re jailed for doing the right thing. But you’ll be fine, because I know it’ll never happen. Christian hypocrites.

  • bell

    Thanks Stephen for sharing. It touches my heart. I hope we can honour those who are detained for the seek of justice and the poor.

    • Patrick Loh

      For a moment, consider this: Lim Hock Siew refused to renounce communism despite having a five month old baby at home. Admirable perhaps, but mostly just stubborn beyond comprehension. He could have seen his child grow up but refused to admit he had lost the game of politics.

      • Stephen Chang

        must correct “Guest” as he wrote that the late Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained because Dr Lim refused to renouce communism. This is totally incorrect. Dr Lim refused to agree to give up his democratic rights not to participate in politics as condition for his release. Dr Lim, son of a poor fisherman, was detained for 20 years and physically and mentally tortured by LKY’s henchmen for his commitment to for a fairer society that was not to the liking of LKY and his than colonial masters. Dr Lim did not commit any crime or broke any law. Otherwise why LKY did not try Dr Lim in court.

        The video tape of Dr Lim’s 1st post detention speech (made when he was 78 years old in 2009, when President Obama arrived in Singapore for APEC Summit meeting) recounting his detention was banned by the PAP government. So until now LKY and his PAP cohorts still fear the voice of Dr Lim and people like him.

        After Dr Lim release from detentionin in 1982, Dr Lim worked as a general practioner at the Rakyat clinic along Balestier Road. He treated poor patients, gave them free medicine and even when neccessary paid for the transport of poor patients to return home. In September 2011 together with other former detainees they issued statements calling for the abolition of law (eveloved from the British colonial times) that gave LKY and the PAP government the right to detain people without trial indefintely. Dr Lim died in June 2012.

        “Guest”‘s incorrect statement is the result of the PAP Government’s lies and propaganda that has dominated the PAP controlled media, including The Straits Times for more than 50 years. The internet new media is now giving the people access to information that was denied to them by LKY and his henchmen who feared the truth.

        • liangjwc1

          “Guest” is another PLP and in the same category as BLJ.
          These are the lapdogs that we have for the past few decades.

  • Tan Alan

    Disgusting Archbishop to play politics above his religion… how satanic can it get to glorify ruthless dictator as saint!… hopeless!

  • NotSoNutCase

    He must have known before hand he will be appointed to the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

    • liangjwc1

      Because of eulogy his appointment is confirmed?

  • The Wrath Of Grapes

    /// Did Jesus ignore the minority? ///

    No, but he preached forgiveness, and this key message is something that you apparently have not learned.

  • Chem Po

    We are back to Operation Spectrum again. I too never believed in the “Communist” charge. I’m really sick of LKY bashers rehashing this incident and barking up wrong trees.

    Let’s assume, indeed, it’s probably the real truth, that those detained were not communists. And I’m sure our well-informed govt knew they were not communists. I begets the question — why then did the govt came down on them? If they were just church workers, why would the govt be interested them?

    Things and events do not happen in isolation. For me, there were striking clues that everybody missed or too stupid not to see. Around that time, outreach activities of the church were at hyper pitch. The business district was basically occupied by roving teams of polite youths eagerly targeting everyone they meet and engaging them in what they have found. Remember the “I FOUND IT” campaigns? It was a powerful, professionally well-crafted outreach campaign. Not your normal church outreach project. I remember coming down for lunch everyday in Raffles Quay area and being accosted at every street corner by 16-18 year old kids trying to teach me the meaning of life. When Operation Spectrum happened, instinctively I knew it had something to do with these outreach activities.

    The public will never know the truth. It is a no brainer that there is something deeper and the “communist” line was just a façade. Whatever it is, I have trust that the govt did what it had to do for the larger good and that the real truth was too sensitive to reveal. Perhaps it still is.

  • Patrick Loh

    Stephen, your outrage is misplaced. Even the most respected American president Abraham Lincoln has resorted to undemocractic measures such as detention without trial for the greater good. What would Singapore be under a communist leader? Hmmmm let me see, maybe like Vietnam? Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, guess your are not much of a politician. Actually you are not even much of a Singaporean, are you?

  • Patrick Loh

    By the way, Chia Thye Poh had a choice to renounce violence and communism, and be out of detention but he refused. So he made his choice to be a martyr, not that he achieved anything in the end.

    • Patrick Loh

      And the same for Lim Hock Siew, who had every chance to renounce communism and be out of detention but chose not to. Are you really going to pin these on LKY? These men were tough I grant you that but misguided and just not meant to be part of Singapore’s nation building. Politics is a dirty game, and they chose not to admit they lost. But they made their choice

      • Stephen Chang

        I must correct “Guest” as he wrote that the late Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained because Dr Lim refused to renouce communism. This is totally incorrect. Dr Lim refused to agree to give up his democratic rights not to participate in politics as condition for his release. Dr Lim, son of a poor fisherman, was detained for 20 years and physically and mentally tortured by LKY’s henchmen for his commitment to for a fairer society that was not to the liking of LKY and his than colonial masters. Dr Lim did not commit any crime or broke any law. Otherwise why LKY did not try Dr Lim in court.

        The video tape of Dr Lim’s 1st post detention speech (made when he was 78 years old in 2009, when President Obama arrived in Singapore for APEC Summit meeting) recounting his detention was banned by the PAP government. So until now LKY and his PAP cohorts still fear the voice of Dr Lim and people like him.

        After Dr Lim release from detentionin in 1982, Dr Lim worked as a general practioner at the Rakyat clinic along Balestier Road. He treated poor patients, gave them free medicine and even when neccessary paid for the transport of poor patients to return home. In September 2011 together with other former detainees they issued statements calling for the abolition of law (eveloved from the British colonial times) that gave LKY and the PAP government the right to detain people without trial indefintely. Dr Lim died in June 2012.

        “Guest”‘s incorrect statement is the result of the PAP Government’s lies and propaganda that has dominated the PAP controlled media, including The Straits Times for more than 50 years. The internet new media is now giving the people access to information that was denied to them by LKY and his henchmen who feared the truth.

    • Stephen Chang

      Chia Thye Poh and his colleagues did not advocate violence and were not communist. They were members of a legally constituted political party – Barisan Socialis Party – formed by break away members of PAP in 1961. Chin Peng is his book “My Side of History (page 438) ” wrote: contrary to countless allegations made over the years by Singapore leaders, academics and Western press we (communist) never controlled the Barisan Socialis”. There is a law aginst advocating violence in Singapore. If Chia Thye Poh had advocated violence why was he tried in court by LKY’s government

    • Stephen Chang

      I must correct “Guest” as he wrote that the late Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained because Dr Lim refused to renouce communism. This is totally incorrect. Dr Lim refused to agree to give up his democratic rights not to participate in politics as condition for his release. Dr Lim, son of a poor fisherman, was detained for 20 years and physically and mentally tortured by LKY’s henchmen for his commitment to for a fairer society that was not to the liking of LKY and his than colonial masters. Dr Lim did not commit any crime or broke any law. Otherwise why LKY did not try Dr Lim in court.

      The video tape of Dr Lim’s 1st post detention speech (made when he was 78 years old in 2009, when President Obama arrived in Singapore for APEC Summit meeting) recounting his detention was banned by the PAP government. So until now LKY and his PAP cohorts still fear the voice of Dr Lim and people like him.

      After Dr Lim release from detentionin in 1982, Dr Lim worked as a general practioner at the Rakyat clinic along Balestier Road. He treated poor patients, gave them free medicine and even when neccessary paid for the transport of poor patients to return home. In September 2011 together with other former detainees they issued statements calling for the abolition of law (eveloved from the British colonial times) that gave LKY and the PAP government the right to detain people without trial indefintely. Dr Lim died in June 2012.

      “Guest”‘s incorrect statement is the result of the PAP Government’s lies and propaganda that has dominated the PAP controlled media, including The Straits Times for more than 50 years. The internet new media is now giving the people access to information that was denied to them by LKY and his henchmen who feared the truth.

  • dp

    For those with faith in the Catholic Church, it is a faith based on Jesus command to build a Church upon Peter and believe that the Holy Spirit is the real engine working in it. It is therefore how God’s plan would work out even in imperfection. On judgement day, we will receive what we deserve and errant priest would receive double. Let us in subsidiarity, continue the good work of Christ and ask for wisdom, mercy and grace. Putting our gifts to good use and bringing our good intentions to action. Not letting anyone tempt us to sin in the process

  • Di Talasi

    Archbishop Goh, you are a disgrace to the Catholic Church. You have placed politics above integrity and principles.

    • Tom Jones

      All archbishops in Singapore seem to be made from the same mould.
      Witness archbishop Gregory Yong and his handling of the so-call Marxist plot and archbishop Nicholas Chia and the withdrawal of his letter to abolish ISA.
      Both supposed leaders of the Catholic community in Singapore but both without balls to lead them and succumbing to those in authority.

  • Alan

    Wonder what will the reaction of you idiots here if the archbishop was to praise LTK or CSJ or even TWP?

  • Stephen Chang

    Dr Chia Thye Poh and his colleagues did not advocate violence and were not communist. They were members of a legally constituted political party – Barisan Socialis Party – formed by break away members of PAP in 1961. Chin Peng is his book “My Side of History (page 438) ” wrote: contrary to countless allegations made over the years by Singapore leaders, academics and Western press we (communist) never controlled the Barisan Socialis”. There is a law aginst advocating violence in Singapore. If Chia Thye Poh had advocated violence why was he not tried in court by LKY’s government.

    I must correct “Guest” as he wrote that the late Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained because Dr Lim refused to renouce communism. This is totally incorrect. Dr Lim refused to agree to give up his democratic rights not to participate in politics as condition for his release. Dr Lim, son of a poor fisherman, was detained for 20 years and physically and mentally tortured by LKY’s henchmen for his commitment to for a fairer society that was not to the liking of LKY and his than colonial masters. Dr Lim did not commit any crime or broke any law. Otherwise why LKY did not try Dr Lim in court.

    The video tape of Dr Lim’s 1st post detention speech (made when he was 78 years old in 2009, when President Obama arrived in Singapore for APEC Summit meeting) recounting his detention was banned by the PAP government. So until now LKY and his PAP cohorts still fear the voice of Dr Lim and people like him.

    After Dr Lim release from detentionin in 1982, Dr Lim worked as a general practioner at the Rakyat clinic along Balestier Road. He treated poor patients, gave them free medicine and even when neccessary paid for the transport of poor patients to return home. In September 2011 together with other former detainees they issued statements calling for the abolition of law (eveloved from the British colonial times) that gave LKY and the PAP government the right to detain people without trial indefintely. Dr Lim died in June 2012.

    “Guest”‘s incorrect statement is the result of the PAP Government’s lies and propaganda that has dominated the PAP controlled media, including The Straits Times for more than 50 years. The internet new media is now giving the people access to information that was denied to them by LKY and his henchmen who feared the truth.