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Misrepresented by ST: Why I started my petition

I read the ST today and felt that the writer has not represented me correctly. Propaganda is when you read a piece of news and it has been engineered in a way to make you take a certain side.

The side that you would have taken as a ST subscriber, on reading their 2 news articles published about HPB’s FAQ yesterday and today, would be one that believes the author who started this petition is a fool while HPB is pushing something good, factual and objective to the public.

One of the ways the reporter can engineer a propaganda is to always have a person end off your article articulating the views you want articulated, or to just have an overwhelming number of one-sided views published. Of the 2 articles that ST published, I believe about 6 or more views were shared. Out of the 6, I am the lone voice that disagreed with HPB. Everyone else, from professionals to pro-homosexuality movement activists, were not for my views.

Nice selection and good representation sample of our population ST!

I find this repulsive. Yet I can’t help it. The media is the director of public opinion. I did try my best to get the best representation from this reporter. This was what transpired between us.

Conversation with ST's reporter Hoe Pei Shan 5

Conversation with ST's reporter Hoe Pei ShanConversation with ST's reporter Hoe Pei Shan 2And here’s what I wrote in my document:

Why I started my petition

HPB’s FAQ on Sexuality is questionable and objectionable as it implicitly promotes homosexuality. Let me just quote some statements that HPB made. HPB wrote, “studies show that sexual orientation has no bearing on mental health or emotional stability.” This compellingly tells of HPB’s committed stand on the issue of homosexuality. By this statement, you can tell that HPB is introducing the idea that homosexuality (believed to be one of the “sexual orientations”) is in-born, natural, normal, healthy, definitely not a disorder, and it is an acceptable alternative option of sexual expression.

HPB websiteHPB’s following statement further reaffirms this implicit stand: “However, an individual who is questioning his or her sexual orientation may experience anxiety, uncertainty, confusion and lower self-esteem among many other emotions.” This statement basically means that if we have homosexual or paedophilic inclinations, they are simply natural “orientations” from birth, and if we embrace them and live accordingly to those inclinations, we will be healthy psychologically. However, if we question our inclinations, it will lead to mental health issues like anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, lower self-esteem among many other emotions. Doesn’t this clearly imply HPB’s stand about homosexuality being natural, normal and even healthy?

Unfortunately, HPB’s FAQ does not stand the test of true science and statistics. Let me just quote a few examples. MOH reports that HIV infection statistics among the 1% population of homosexual men who practices homosexuality has risen to rates that are higher than the remaining 99% of men put together. The 99% includes a part of the heterosexual community who visits prostitutes regularly and who engages in promiscuous lifestyles – and yet infection rates among homosexual men surpass all of that combined! Just based on this factual health statistic alone, how can HPB imply that homosexuality is natural, normal and healthy? Even in countries with a long history of gay marriage, where homosexuality is mainstream i.e. Denmark and Norway, married gays and lesbians have a shorter lifespan than their conventionally married counterparts by 24 years!

Also, in parts of my blog, I have already written very clearly and scientifically why homosexuality is not an in-born trait. Genes make proteins, not preferences. The scientific truth is that our genes do not force us into homosexuality, and the real geneticists will be able to confirm this. Why aren’t the real scientists consulted on this complicated issue? I wonder who are the professional counsellors that HPB worked with? Even the High Court Judge had said that the issue of whether homosexuals are born or made is “at least arguable and debatable”. Is HPB going to contest with our High Court judgement? Obviously, HPB has not researched or done their homework enough to truly understand this issue. I have a feeling that pro-homosexuality groups have been partnered to produce this one-sided FAQ.

Actually, I totally understand HPB’s objective. HPB has always been about health promotion and disease prevention. However, in their eagerness for disease prevention e.g. promote condom use, they must not withhold critical information that will help the public make fully informed choices, nor should they make inaccurate, unproven statements that might reflect global trends, but drive values that are detrimental to public good on closer scrutiny. There have been times when HPB has clearly overstepped this line of responsibility. I hope I do not have to raise these issues up as well. Public servants have failed us and it should not surprise us that HPB can err. What helps is when we have a system of good governance, accountability, review and correction, if necessary.

Therefore, I hope through my petition, the health ministry will take this opportunity to thoroughly examine the FAQ, not just the expressed words, but the implicit, underlying values that drive it. Values are the foundations of our nation, and are really more important than anything else. It is with the intention of preserving a truly healthy, vibrant Singapore for my child and the next generation that I write with passion, integrity and goodwill.

How ST has misrepresented me. I quote from ST’s article:

“He took issue with several answers in the list, such as the one to the question “Is being gay or bisexual a mental illness?” HPB’s answer is that “homosexuality and bisexuality are not mental illnesses. Studies show that sexual orientation has no bearing on mental health or emotional stability”. This means “HPB is introducing the idea that homosexuality… is in-born, natural, normal, healthy”, said Aaron, in a statement sent to The Straits Times. “Unfortunately, HPB’s FAQ does not stand the test of true science and statistics.” He urged the Ministry of Health to “thoroughly examine the FAQ” and “the implicit, underlying values that drive it”.”

Can you see how huge a chunk of my explanations are missing? Well I did expect that. But what I was not hoping to happen, is to find myself making political suicidal statements with their selective cut and paste of parts of my explanations and statements from HPB’s FAQ.

I would never have answered a question on whether “Is being gay or bisexual a mental illness”, with a direct “yes it is”, but I felt that is almost exactly what ST has made me sounded like. First of all, the general public’s misunderstanding of mental illness is too deep to be able to answer such a question on a public front correctly. Secondly, it will be very insensitive to say to anyone that they have a mental illness. I would never do that.

In fact, I have stated very clearly the part which I chose to make reference to (on a public front), and specifically highlighted to the reporter – “studies show that sexual orientation has no bearing on mental health or emotional stability.” I wrote in response to that. I explained why that is not scientific (you have to explain when you make such statements on a public front, especially to a mainstream paper). The ST reporter not only conveniently expanded the statements that “I took issue with”, she also failed to convey any of my reasons and rationale on why I said that HPB’s statement is not based on science. As a logical and scientific person after facts and truth, I am made to look like a fool. This is propaganda labeling.

Lastly, the reporter asked how I would like to be identified. She mentioned that “many people are labeling you as homophobic”. Sounded as if she does have connections to “many people”, but her connections do seem to me pretty one-sided. I hope it doesn’t mean the same for all her colleagues as well.

Conversation with ST's reporter Hoe Pei Shan 3Conversation with ST's reporter Hoe Pei Shan 4A person should never have to defend his own honour because of misrepresentations made about him by the media. Neither should the public be receiving propaganda of such extent from a trusted mainstream media.

PS: Though the damage has been done, I hope it is unintentional on the part of this reporter to have misrepresented me this way. I have to confess that I do not have a good feeling looking at her previous article. In contrast, I was a little surprised with Today’s fairer article published today (unlike yesterday, where it was totally a one-sided affair). It showed that there is really a necessary debate going on regarding HPB’s FAQ; rather than it being just one unreasonable party taking issue with HPB’s “good work”. You may like to also read Mypaper’s opinion page for another voice of concern on this issue: http://mypaper.sg/opinion/hpbs-sexuality-faqs-undermine-family-20140206


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