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:
- That Mr Au’s account (in Yawningbread) could only have come from Function 8, with whom he had communicated in private.
- 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.”
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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’?
- 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.
Function 8 Ltd
* Media is advised to use this statement together with the statement issued by MARUAH. Thank you