09 November 2007

I sent an email to Thio and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

Part 2 of 2

I hope you're happy... I hope you're happy now! I hope you're happy how you've hurt your cause forever, I hope you think you're clever...

Poor Kway Teow Man is flabbergasted at why some gay activists say that even though the failure to repeal Section 377A was as expected, this was a sign of progress.

Why ye of little faith, have ye no faith in the Father of the Singapore Gay Equality Movement? Question not the judgement of the Bread That Yawneth! For assuredly, there is victory in defeat! Life in death! Honour in debasement! Just like how Alex Au finds victory in his failures to get gay interest group PLU registered as a society, our efforts to repeal 377A have resulted in a resounding victory that must be shouted from the rooftops and echoed in basement carparks! And you too of little faith and much naivete, yes you: Kway Teow Man, you too shall cheer along with us in this historic triumph that will be recorded in the annals of history, and recited by Singaporean schoolchildren of the future in their gay civics class!

Oh yes, indeed, the greatest achievement Alex Au has contributed to the victory of our cause is when NMP Thio Li-ann (whom Alfian Sa'at wishes would "douses herself with the petrol of her own rhetoric and lights the match unaided") became the victim of a second threatening note!

Oh yes, Alex Au, there's no need to be so modest =D "I will totally condemn any malicious letters. It's completely against the spirit of civil discourse and democracy", you say to Li Xueying. Oh no, don't you dare pile it on by saying you have "made it known in gay forums that any criticism should be issues-based rather than targeted at the person."

My leader, do not belabour yourself! We hear you loud and clear, and we get your nudge nudge wink wink!

O Kway Teow Man, look and learn! Rookie reporter Li Xueying clearly is no match for the witty wits of our esteemed repeal 377A commander in chief! He has run circles around her, for nowhere in the SIGNEL gay forum has he explicitly advised his legions of gay activists who dedicate themselves fully to the gay agenda that they have to be "issues-based rather than target at the person"!

In fact, in the entire month of October leading up to today, Alex Au has mostly posted without comment, several news articles and essays regarding gay issues in Singapore and around the world! In his only 2 posts where he does make any personal comment, it was to ask our 21st Keyboard Legions to find sources to corroborate or demolish a claim that Andy Ho made, as usual without citing his sources! And in the 1 week between Alfian Sa'at and the second threatening note, Alex Au has made a total of 0 comments on the issues of civility, civil discourse, or democracy in the gay forums!

O Kway Teow Man, look and learn from the matchless machinations of warmaster Alex Au! For clearly he no longer uses the gay forums to issue his pronouncements! No, open your mind, humble yourself in a mind of servitude, and direct your willing ears to the Bread that Yawns! Here you see the Warmaster's only pronouncement on malice, civil discourse and democracy in the light of the fight to repeal 377A!

For clearly, young KTM, as Alex's article is titled: there are LIMITS TO CIVILITY! Yes, the spirit of civil discourse has a limit. For the shrill stalking and malicious machinations of Thio on the 377A repeal has bent the mind of poor Alfian Sa'at and caused him to issue a somewhat embarrassing email to her... And who do we blame, young KTM? Of course the blame is with NMP Thio!

"I would not crown civility as supreme in all situations."
Indeed so, my liege and lord!

"When the Religious Right (and this includes Thio) are out to bludgeon me psychologically, socially and politically, they don't deserve respect or civility from me. Nor from Alfian and thousands, thousands more." And indeed so, my liege and lord!

And it is no wonder, praise Alex Au, that the wise have heeded, and the willing have put into action Alex's desire that Thio and her Religious Right collaborators no longer deserve any civility or respect!

My friend, Alfian Sa'at did not do anything we should be ashamed of! On the contrary, his bold attack must be defended by pointing out that Thio deserves no civility nor respect - and that thousands more people should boldly attack her! Follow the footsteps and heed the pronouncements of our great leader Alex Au!

But seriously, the repeal 377A campaign doesn't need Thio Li-ann, the fundie churches, or a Parliament stacked with conservatve and Christian MPs as their enemies. They merely need Alex Au, and that is sufficient.

08 November 2007

I weighed in the 377A debate and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

Part I of 2

I hope you're happy... I hope you're happy now! I hope you're happy how you've hurt your cause forever, I hope you think you're clever...

Fellow conservatives, Professor Thio Li-ann has failed us all. I speak of course about her contributions in the 377A debate, of her fiery speech in Parliament and her defence of how fundamental religious viewpoints must be allowed expression in public policy making in the context of a secular society.

But wait, you say. Did the eminent Professor Thio, in her impassioned speech, not scuttle the gay agenda to repeal 377A, and halt our nation's slippery slide into the endorsement of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, gay marriages, and weekly gay pride beach parties at Sentosa? What can possibly be lacking in how Thio has served the conservative cause, you ask.

We must go back to the first principles: What is an NMP supposed to do? Who is Thio Li-ann, and why has she been appointed to serve as an NMP? Is she serving her role as an NMP, in a manner that adheres to constitutional and historical expectations of NMPs?

As the constitution states, the list of candidates are proposed by the public to the Special Select Committee, who eventually appoint the Non-Elected Member of Parliament.

The criteria for selection?

The persons to be nominated shall be persons who have rendered distinguished public service, or who have brought honour to the Republic, or who have distinguished themselves in the field of arts and letters, culture, the sciences, business, industry, the professions, social or community service or the labour movement; and in making any nomination, the Special Select Committee shall have regard to the need for nominated Members to reflect as wide a range of independent and non-partisan views as possible.

In practice, all NMPs have been chosen for their expertise in their respective fields, or for their leadership roles in civil society groups, special interest groups, or minority groups. Hence, the list of NMPs include Malay businessmen, law professors, the heads of aging associations, AWARE, environmentalists, and so on. These NMPs have steered Parliament through difficult issues, providing their professional views and unique viewpoints. This is a system that, despite serving to co-opt dissent and opposition into a "non-elected" representation scheme, works.

And then, we have Thio Li-ann. She's a law professor, an expert in constitutional law and human rights law. She's not uncritical of the NMP scheme, and very critical of the changes Parliament has made to the Elected Presidency since its creation. By all accounts, Prof Thio understands the role she is expected to play.

Back in her appointment to the non-elected seat, she proposes several areas of jurisdiction that she expects to advise Parliament on. They are all constitutional issues - "She wants to scrutinise legislation on the Elected Presidency, for example, and probe further into the mechanics and powers of the presidency." (Lynn Lee and Sue-ann Chia, "Looking forward to advance the debate", in ST Review, 9 Feb 2007)

Note there is no mention of her staking out the repeal of 377A as a platform she is interested in. Nor does 377A fit coherently in the bag of issues that her expertise should touch on. Yet for all this, Professor Thio's maiden speech in Parliament is a pungent, stinging attack on homosexuality. Yet for all this, her entire attack on homosexuality was based on the morality and moral repugnance argument. Her subsequent articles in the Straits Times defends her attacks as a legitimate expression of religious convictions in a secular state.

In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget that Thio Li-ann is an NMP selected for her expertise in the law. One would have expected, if Thio were indeed fulfilling her role as prescribed in articles 39.1.c and 44.1 of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution of Singapore and as established in the practice of her predecessors, that Thio would have at least provided the one viewpoint and area of expertise that her colleagues in the entire Parliament could not.

But we haven't heard her speak from a legal or constitutional basis on the 377A debate. Astonishingly for a legal expert charged with educating the nation's future lawyers, there is not a bit of legal theory in it. Where, when we need her expertise most, is the legal reasoning whether to keep or repeal 377A? Where, when the debate is clouded with categorical morality arguments from the right and unbending liberal rhetoric from the left, is the voice of reason, the clear-headed and non-partisan voice of a law professor?

Instead, we find that we might as well have elected Pastor Kong Hee as the NMP, who could have given the same speech Thio gave in Parliament.

If there is a constitutional argument for not repealing 377A (note that I do have one for repealing 377A!), Thio Li-ann has not made it known. Shocking! She could well be batting for the gays, since her utter reliance on the moral repugnance argument suggests that there isn't a constitutional argument for keeping 377A.

The pro-377A faction doesn't need an Alex Au, a gay agenda, or a well-organised campaign as their enemies. They have Thio Li-ann, and that is sufficient.

05 November 2007

The same problem, elsewhere

UK politician steps down for questioning immigration policy

The row over the Midlands candidate was ignited after the Observer reported details of his column in the local Express and Star newspaper, in which he claimed that "we roll out the red carpet for foreigners while leaving the locals to fend for themselves ..."

Also related:
Intra-EU immigration patterns, via takchek.

One way to shift the focus of the debate, to neutralise the Whiteshirt playbook of maligning critics of its FT policy as revanchists playing up the politics of envy, is to note that the cosmopolitan/heartlander, FT/native debates and fissures... are a result of late capitalism under the sign of the elite global labour market... that creates the same problem and social fissures in every country.

We who despair over this country's ridiculously lax FT immigration policy do so not because we are parochial, near-sighted, and not cosmopolitan enough - but precisely because we are aware of how this problem is replayed in every country whose labour market is as free as ours.