Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!

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Penal Code 377A

I am a non-christian. I do have some gay friends. I am a firm believer in ‘being kind to everyone whom I meet in Singapore”, regardless of race, language, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

I only do not condone public display of  heterosexual/homosexual sexual behaviours because I feel that such intimate activities should be done strictly and discreetly behind closed doors.

There has been much online debate about Singapore Penal Code Section 377A recently, on whether to repeal it or not.

For background information, you may wish to read this first ->

To repeal or retain Section 377A is a decision yet to be made by the Supreme Court of Singapore.

Recently Singapore Minister for Law & Foreign Affairs, Mr K Shanmugam has shared openly on his facebook page that he has met one LGBT group (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) , and had a closed-door discussion with them. 

Senior Pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) Lawrence Khong Kin Hoong then wrote a letter to him, expressing his concern that the minister has had met this LGBT group, and would like to arrange a meeting with him to express his religious group’ standing on homosexuality or LGBT rights in Singapore.

I find it disturbing that Pastor Lawrence Khong also took the opportunity to make a similar plea to Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong, imposing his christian conservative beliefs, hoping that ESM Goh will help to stop the movement of repealing Section 377A, when the latter passed by the Church last Sunday (20 Jan) during his Marine Parade estate walk-about.

Christianity often emphasize “love for all men”.

Pardon me for saying this which may sound offensive – On what basis do Pastor Khong think he has the right to impose his beliefs on other people?

I feel strongly that Pastor Lawrence Khong should not impose his religious views on Singapore, which is a secular nation.

As a Singaporean, I feel that it is dangerous to have some such Singaporeans among us, who are eager to impose their religious beliefs on other fellow Singaporeans, zooming on differences. 

It is also potentially dangerous to mix politics and religion altogether.

The below online article written by Todayonline reader Mr Tan Wee Cheng, pretty sums up my thoughts on the matter.


I refer to the report “Pastor’s plea to retain Section 377A sparks online furore” (Jan 18).

Traditional Asian family values emphasise love and empathy. Therefore, I am surprised that Pastor Lawrence Khong had described his campaign against the repeal of Section 377A as one motivated by his support for family values.

 According to the United Nations, at least 76 countries have laws that criminalise same-sex relations. Most of these are in the Middle East and Africa.

Most Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, do not criminalise gay communities.

Mr Khong has every right to preach his belief to his church but he should not seek to impose his views on our secular nation and, in the process, create hardship for a community which, according to many studies, comprise 5 per cent or more of any population.

I encourage him and his followers to channel their efforts towards more pressing existential issues such as global warming, poverty, disease, illiteracy and military conflicts.


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Youth Summit

I was invited to attend this youth summit, with more than 100 other young Singaporeans coming from various backgrounds. It was jointly organised by Chong Pang Community Club and North West Community Development Council.

Students, artists, film-makers, street dancers, working adults, youth volunteers or activists on various causes, ranging from youth empowerment, animal rights, environmental movements, religious groups and voluntary welfare groups.

Behind closed doors, in different groups, we shared views on various hot-button issues such as meritocracy, foreign talents, LGBT (Lesbians/Gays/Bisexuals/Transgender), housing, population bloom, unwed mothers, disabled persons, Internal Security Act, taxes and Section 377A (Penal Code). We had a chance to have a direct conversation with Law & Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr K Shanmugam.

Held in a function room at a hotel in Orchard Road, the focus of this one-full day youth summit was on young Singaporeans because there has been a “generational change”. Mr K Shanmugam sees that the next upcoming 20 years will be very different from the last 20 years.

Yeah, since the watershed Singapore General Elections held in May last year. Being a more educated and well-travelled group of Singaporeans, we hear alot more views from the young ones these days.

I was among those who rose up to pose questions to Minister. It was a question about inclusiveness in Singapore in the next 20 years.

“Talking about building an inclusive Singapore, as an hearing-impaired young Singaporean, I do not know but just would like to hear your own view – do you see a possibility that we would have a physically disabled or hearing-impaired Member of Parliament in the next 10 or 20 years?”

I raised this question because during the earlier break-out group discussion, my group touched on the topic of “Disabled Persons”. One of the group participants reflected that there is a missing voice to be an advocate for disabled Singaporeans, as such it would be a good thing if our Parliament allows another Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) position to represent them. 

Presently Ms Denise Phua, a Member of Parliament for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, helps to speak up for these communities in Parliament.

Mr K Shanmugam responded, saying that the Singapore Government do to the best of its ability to ensure equal opportunities for all Singaporeans, be them able-bodied or physically challenged, for now and future generations. He is glad that there are many employment opportunities for physically challenged Singaporeans in the private sector and social enterprises these days. But he is unable to ensure that we would have a physically disabled Member of Parliament in Singapore one day.

“It still depends”, he said.
Thinking deeper..okay, I think I understand what he meant. 

These are my thoughts:

It is a known fact that a Member of Parliament has to be elected by the electorate.

Firstly, putting aside the physically handicap issue, it depends on political parties whether they are able to find qualified credible individuals who are knowledgeable with all the current issues/challenges faced by the special needs communities to represent them in Parliament. This point alone, should be able to address the issue of inclusiveness for disabled persons in Singapore, IF this person aspires to be an advocate for the community in the Parliament House. 

In addition, the job responsibilities that come with MP position. They are indeed taxing. This person must be able to fulfill its obligations.

Secondly, the individual’s overall character and values. Is he or she a right fit, with what political parties are looking for? Can he/she carry himself/herself well?

It is just like how an employer assess job applicants during job interviews or screening process.

Lastly, another possible factor – it depends on the opponent whom this individual is pitting himself against, during an election campaign. Does he/she have that competitive edge or X-factor over his opponent? Yes, it could be that likeability or personal charisma factor.

We shall see in future if it becomes a reality.

The search is on………….