‘Disrespectful’,  ‘Viliffied’  and  “Publish  his  first  and  second  letters”    

~Statements  by  MHA,  MARUAH  ahd  Function  8  on  the  leaking  of  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia’s  retracted   letter~     Statement  by  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs:  
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The  Government  values  its  long-­‐standing   relationship  with  the  Catholic  Church  and   the  Catholic  community  in  Singapore,  and   deeply     appreciates  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia's   many  contributions  to  religious  harmony   in  Singapore.  
 

As  part  of  building  trust  and  understanding  and  to  maintain  religious   harmony  in  Singapore,  government  ministers  meet  regularly  with  various   religious  leaders  in  Singapore.  Such  closed-­‐door  meetings  allow  a  frank   exchange  of  views  especially  on  sensitive  subjects.  This  is  a  well-­‐established   process  that  is  appreciated  by  both  ministers  and  religious  leaders.     We  note  Archbishop  Chia's  statement  yesterday  that  he  had  withdrawn  his   earlier  letter  as  its  contents  did  not  accurately  reflect  his  views  on  the   subject.  He  also  expressed  concern  that  if  the  letter  was  used  in  a  manner   that  he  did  not  intend,  it  may  inadvertently  harm  the  social  harmony  in   Singapore.  His  decision  to  withdraw  his  letter  ahead  of  a  political  event  in   June  2012,  shows  his  appreciation  of  the  complexity  of  our  multi-­‐racial,   multireligious  society,  and  the  need  to  keep  religion  and  politics  separate.     The  actions  by  this  group  to  publicise  the  matter  through  Mr  Au  is   disrespectful  of  the  Archbishop,  and  contrary  to  his  views  and  intentions  as   conveyed  to  the  group  after  he  had  decided  to  retract  his  letter.  This   deliberate  breach  of  the  Archbishop's  trust  confirms  the  objective  of  this   group  to  publicly  involve  the  Catholic  Church  and  the  Archbishop  in  their   political  agenda.  
       

Statement  by  MARUAH:  
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MARUAH,  a  human  rights  NGO,  is  a  partner  with  Function  8,  in  particular  for   the  June  2nd  2012  event  to  mark  the  25th  Anniversary  of  the  alleged  Marxist   Conspiracy.  MARUAH's  position  is  that  it  is  timely  for  a  Commission  of   Inquiry  to  be  set  up  to  review  the  detentions  under  Operation  Spectrum.     As  part  of  this  collaborative  effort  MARUAH  was  informed  of  the  letters  that   the  Archbishop  had  sent  to  Function  8  and  we  are  aware  of  the  contents.  The   letters  reflect  diverse  views  on  key  content  areas  in  relation  to  preventive   detention  without  trial.  Both  organisations  made  a  decision  not  to  publicise   the  letter(s)  till  we  sought  clarifications  from  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs  and   other  relevant  parties.  This  decision  was  taken  as  we  feel  it  is  a  better  way   forward  as  both  organisations  are  mindful  of  the  previous  pain  within  the   Catholic  community  over  what  happened  in  1987  where  the  Church,  the   government,  the  detainees  and  the  community  were  involved.  We  agreed   that  after  these  approaches  to  reach  out  for  dialogues  had  been  tried  and   tested  we  would  review  this  incident  of  the  letters.  It  is  unfortunate  that  the   matter  of  the  letters  was  leaked  to  the  media  before  we  could  receive   clarifications  from  the  relevant  bodies.  Both  organisations  had  wanted  to   focuson  seeking  a  dialogue  rather  than  dealing  with  the  Archbishop's  letters   a  public  manner  through  the  media.     Having  said  that,  MARUAH  has  to  state  that  we  are  deeply  disappointed  with   the  remarks  of  the  Archbishop  in  his  response  to  the  media  queries.  An   opportunity  to  understand  the  change  in  the  position  of  the  Archbishop  vis-­‐ a-­‐vis  preventive  detention  without  trial  was  missed.  We  are  still  clueless  as   to  whether  there  was  intervention  by  the  State  in  this  matter  and  if  so,  on   what  grounds  and  to  what  extent.  Instead  civil  society  has  been  vilified  in  the   Archbishop's  remarks  which  are  the  opposite  of  our  intentions  to  preserve   harmony  by  seeking  clarifications.     Nevertheless,  it  is  more  important  to  move  forward.  We  are  keen  to  have   dialogue  with  the  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs  on  our  ongoing  efforts  at  public   education  and  advocacy  on  preventive  detentions  without  trial.  We  will  also   be  very  happy  to  meet  the  Archbishop  in  relation  to  this  matter.    

More  importantly,  it  is  very  important  to  us,  and  to  many  other  Singaporeans   that  an  independent  Commission  of  Inquiry  be  set  up  as  we  are  perturbed  by   the  many  contradictions  in  this  case.  This  was  the  work  that  began  on  June   2nd  between  MARUAH  and  Function  8,  to  ensure  that  the  rights  of  those   detained  are  protected  and  fulfilled  through  an  inquiry.  
Statement  by  Function  8:   --

We  are  deeply  saddened  by  the  comments  of  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia   reported  in  The  Straits  Times  of  20th  September  2012.  He  made  three   unsubstantiated  remarks:     1.  That  Mr  Au's  account  (in  Yawningbread)  could  only  have  come  from   Function  8,  with  whom  he  had  communicated  in  private.     2.  That  he  decided  to  withdraw  his  letter  of  support  "because  if  the  letter   were  to  be  used  in  a  manner  that  I  (Archbishop)  did  not  intend,  it  may   inadvertently  harm  the  social  harmony  in  Singapore."     3.  That  Mr  Au's  article  appearing  now,  months  later,  "confirms  the   correctness  of  my  (Archbishop's)  earlier  decision  to  withdraw  the  letter  so  as   not  to  inadvertently  embroil  the  Catholic  Church  and  the  office  of  the   Archbishop  in  a  political  event  which  was  being  staged  by  the  group."     Our  response  is  as  follows:     1.  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia's  initial  letter  to  us,  and  the  subsequent  one   withdrawing  the  first  letter,  were  not  marked  "private  and/or  confidential".   Indeed,  in  discussing  his  first  letter,  members  of  Function  8  concluded  that  it   was  intended  to  be  made  public  on  2  June  2012,  the  25th  anniversary  of   Operation  Spectrum.  The  retraction  of  the  first  letter  made  us  cancel  the   plan.  The  organisers  of  the  2  June  event  subsequently  decided  that  we  would   try  to  have  a  private  dialogue  with  the  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs.     2.  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia  assumed  that  Mr  Au  could  only  have  obtained   an  account  of  what  he  wrote  in  his  article  from  Function  8.  Has  His  Grace   forgotten  that  his  second  letter  was  cc  to  a  third  party  and  that  his  staff  and  

others  within  the  Church  may  also  have  sight  of  the  letters?     3.  What  was  his  initial  letter  intended  for  and  what  are  the  unintended   manners  in  which  it  could  possibly  be  used  to  'harm  the  social  harmony  in   Singapore'?     4.  Finally,  we  do  not  understand  how  His  Grace  can  draw  the  conclusion  that   the  disclosure  of  his  own  letter  can  "inadvertently  harm  the  social  harmony   in  Singapore"  and  that  the  fact  that  Mr  Au  has  now  written  an  article   confirms  the  correctness  of  his  earlier  decision  to  withdraw  the  letter.       In  the  midst  of  a  national  conversation  called  by  the  prime  minister,  we   believe  there  is  no  room  for  whispered  meetings  on  the  issues  above.  We   request  Archbishop  Nicholas  Chia  to  publish  his  first  and  second  letters  and   advise  on  what  transpired  between  the  time  his  first  letter  was  written  and   his  second  letter  so  that  the  public  can  judge  for  themselves  whether  the   actions  or  inaction  of  Function  8  and  Mr  Au  were  "irresponsible  and   regrettable".  For  clarity,  His  Grace  should  also  make  known  to  members  of   the  public  if  his  first  letter  to  the  organisers  of  the  2  June  event  was  solicited   or  unsolicited.
 

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