Why are stuff branded “against public interest”?


Interesting letter in ST today – “Why is gay forum against public interest?

This letter spoke of authorities’ pulling the plug on what would have been a public gay rights forum, on the eve of the forum. The other reason cited, and challenged by the letter writer, was “‘foreigners should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Singapore’, a reference to the invitation to a foreign-based speaker to participate in the forum.”

But more piquantly, the writer asks

Should we subject ourselves to censorship due to the vague notion of public interest?

What then is public interest?

What indeed. So often this excuse has been heard, in the guise of the greater good, majority view, even when such good is not clearly greater nor a view proved major, like this cat issue on Dawn’s blog. Or this one.

What is it about gay rights that evoke such resonance with cat issues? Good mulling topic if you’ve no program planned for tomorrow right.

Incidentally, if the name rings a meow, the letter writer is Mr Ho Chi Sam, the same who was (rightly or wrongly) branded a typical unsympathetic Singaporean in a recent round of letter-skirmishes about, what else – cats.

Here’s the full-text for reference:

Print Article

Aug 8, 2007

Why is gay forum against public interest?

THE Ministry of Home Affairs banned a public forum scheduled for yesterday which would have featured a talk on the topic, ‘Sexual orientation in international law, a case for Asia’, saying that it was contrary to public interest.

The forum was to have been open to one and all who are interested to hear views and opinions related to society. How could it be against public interest?

I am a straight member of the public who wants to understand issues that sexual minorities confront, especially in an Asian country like Singapore.

Another reason cited for the ban was that ‘foreigners should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Singapore’, a reference to the invitation to a foreign-based speaker to participate in the forum.

I believe that views and feedback from foreigners can improve our society and make Singapore stronger. This is important for Singapore as a cosmopolitan country, open to talents from all over the world.

It is a pity that the forum was banned, depriving people like me of the education and awareness it could have given with respect to minorities in our society.

Should we subject ourselves to censorship due to the vague notion of public interest?

What then is public interest?

Instead of a ban, restrictions such as an age limit could have been imposed. A small compromise from the authorities would go a long way for education and awareness.

Ho Chi Sam

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