Press statement on Archbishop retraction of letter


20 September 2012

Reference: Archbishop Clarifies Retraction of Letter to Group

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 2 nd between MARUAH and Function 8, to ensure that the rights of those detained are protected and fulfilled through an inquiry.

Braema Mathi
MARUAH Singapore

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