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NUS group’s Social Policies Forum – really about Families?

A certain social political group in NUS has organised a forum to talk about families. It is titled, “Social Policies Forum – Our Families”. From their blog and website, this is what the forum is about:

Family Forum About

Families is an extremely sensitive subject in today’s world. The organisers of this forum seem to understand this and cited examples of strong disagreements between different factions in the society. One of their main examples was the disagreement between the proponents of Pink Dot, and “those who position themselves as ‘pro-family'”.

These differences are not difficult to understand. It is a result of 2 incompatible, mutually exclusive views as to what constitutes a family.

One of these views is held by the organisers of Pink Dot, who have openly revealed Pink Dot’s agenda, that it has “always been a social movement to change hearts and minds” so as to eventually change “these laws and regulations”.

This is the faction that is pushing for the eventual legitimization of same-sex marriage, the result of which, ALL kinds of alternative family structures will have to be legitimized. First, gay and lesbian couples with adopted children; eventually, throuples and children and whatever structure anyone desires under the justification of love. This is one view of family, that has become increasingly popular since Obama, who is a fervent support of same-sex marriage, became the President of the United States and uses his influence to push for it globally.

The “pro-family” faction that disagrees with these alternative structures of family, are those of the opinion that families are naturally formed, hence naturally defined. There’s no need to redefine what families are. By nature, the family structure is simply a biological father, a biological mother, and their offspring, if any. There may be other structures that result from unfortunate circumstance, like the demise of a parent, or divorce, (such families are not opposed by this faction, as alleged by the opposing faction), but this does not change the fact that every family begins with this simple, natural order.

Instead, this faction knows that should the natural meaning of family be redefined by legalizing same-sex marriage and legitimizing alternative unnatural structures e.g. man-man-child or woman-woman-child families, it will impose a structural injustice of fatherlessness or motherlessness on children. Call them old-fashioned, traditional, whatever names or labels, from the pain described by many children victims, this faction sees the ills that will come with the redefining of marriage and family.

This is why they disagree with Pink Dot and some 27,000 of them publicly supported NLB’s decision to remove the controversial homosexuality-themed books from the children’s section of the library. They believed NLB’s decision is undoubtedly right (the crux of the issue is not about inclusivity or discrimination, but about how the children’s section is the wrong platform to discuss or to discover unsupervised about these issues), despite biased portrayals by media, time and time again, to reframe and misrepresent public opinion on the issue.

Therefore, it was heartening to note that this NUS group seems to be trying to bridge the gap and perhaps provide a whole and holistic academic environment to discuss or even to debate civilly about families. They even provide reassuringly, this disclaimer on their website:

Family Forum Disclaimer

Great! That should be what is expected of any academic institutions that claim to provide a whole and holistic learning environment. Many academic institutions today actually claim to be ideologically neutral, or that they promote academic “freedom”, yet it can be a facade.

There have been of cases of how conservative views are frowned upon, mocked, labelled derogatorily, without any fair intervention from the moderating authority, be it forum judges, teachers, lecturers or principals. There have been cases of how teachers or lecturers themselves, unfairly or ignorantly misrepresent facts such as claims that the Universal Declarations of Human Rights supports homosexual rights (sexual orientation was not addressed during the UDHR debate). There are incidents of how school policies that discriminate against religious principles are drawn, disabling religious groups from functioning with religious integrity e.g. the insistence that the leadership of religious student groups needs to be open up to, and possibly led by non-religious members.

Hence, it was certainly refreshing to read about the neutral stand that NUS Students’ Political Association seems to take… until I read their list of “distinguished speakers” (both on their website and FB page).

Family Forum Speakers

If you are unaware of the identities of the highlighted two speakers, then you are obviously oblivious to the controversy surrounding Jolene Tan and Oogachaga – which was the organization that HPB probably worked with to arrive at their questionable and controversial Sexuality FAQs.

The student group’s rhetoric is to aim to “explore the diversity of family structures in Singapore and what it really means to be pro-family”, in a climate where “family” has become a contentious issue. However, one thing for certain is that the participants will not be getting a diversity of views from its list of distinguished speakers. It is obvious that to be truly neutral as they claim they are, and diverse as they seem to seek to be, they should include at least one expert from the “pro-natural-family” camp. Otherwise, the group’s statements could just be a hypocritical facade, build on rhetorical insincere claims.

Rhetoric is easy. Everyone can claim to be pro-family. Everyone can claim to embrace human rights. Truth and human intentions are hardest to discern. This perhaps is the greatest challenge facing our generation of students today. In an increasingly biased academic climate where conservative views are intolerantly labelled bigoted, deliberately omitted from discourse, or dismissed with meaningless rhetoric, it actually prevents, rather than educates, our youth from understanding the merits and detriments of every side of arguments.

This is perhaps what a student group that seeks to regulate different views on a contentious issue, should try to avoid, or they risk being misunderstood by the public for pushing pro-homosexuality propaganda under a biased, hijacked, publicly-funded academic platform.

When all your speakers of an extremely contentious issue are supporters of the same camp, it is like an attempt to create a circular argument. One speaker would simply affirm the other to be right. Hence, all the supporting arguments, and the conclusion at the end of the day is, whatever is represented by this one camp – the pro-homosexuality, same-sex marriage, Pink Dot faction – is right.

This is extremely regrettable coming from a group that claims to be “Singapore’s leading student organisation for political awareness and active citizenry.” And I will place my bet on that no moderating authority, be it the student group’s teacher-in-charge, the academic institution’s student governing committee, or the national governing authority itself, will do anything about it. NUS students will be left to themselves to discern, accept, disagree, or even defend – but one thing they can certainly not help themselves in, is the increasingly biased academic climate they will be operating in, no thanks to the responsible (or irresponsible) authorities that allow academic biasness to continue to fester.

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