The Straits Times Interactive - Sports

JUN 6 2000

All can be part of S'pore 21

I REFER to the letter by Mr Siew Kum Hong, ""How could forum have imposed on others?'' (ST, June 2).

There are major implications in endorsing and encouraging homosexuality openly, and promoting homosexual behaviour to become an accepted social norm.

One major implication is the effect on our young. If more Singaporeans end up embracing this sexual orientation openly, the foundation of the strong family, which is the core building block of Singapore 21, would be weakened.

This is why I feel it is better that we exercise great caution, be conservative, and stick to the basic concept of family and family values as much as we can, for as long as we can.

I would like to emphasise that the core issue in this discussion is not so much about homosexuality in Singapore, but our role as active citizens in Singapore 21.

Mr Siew feels that we should allow the forum to proceed since the forum ""did not appear to advocate a gay lifestyle at all, but only to examine the role of gays in Singapore 21''.

Singapore 21 is all about building a better future for all Singaporeans.

It will not come easy. There are major challenges ahead, such as the ageing population, structural unemployment, the digital divide and a widening income gap, just to name a few.

But these challenges can be overcome, if we embrace the shared vision and pursue it together, as one active people, as one united nation.

Therefore, our starting point as active citizens should be ""we are SINGAPOREANS, and we want to play our part to help realise the Singapore 21 vision'', rather than ""we are HOMOSEXUAL, and we have a role to play in Singapore 21''.

There is no need to highlight that they are homosexuals in discussing their role in Singapore 21.

After all, being Singaporean is good enough reason for everyone to play his or her part.

If the intention of the forum is to push for general acceptance of homosexuality in Singapore, then my view is that what people do in private about their sexual orientation is up to them. But please do not try to promote general acceptance of homosexual behaviour in public, because we are still a conservative society, for very good reasons.

So, instead of creating a platform specifically targeting people with a homosexual orientation, they can always join the many platforms available to Singaporeans at large.

By embracing the spirit of active citizenry with the broader interest of the community at heart, we can work together to help many more people live a better life in Singapore 21.

Minister of State
for Trade & Industry and Communications & Information Technology

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