Punish Pastor Tan

In case anyone missed my article on Pastor Rony Tan which first appeared on The Online Citizen , I’m reposting it here.

By now, most of us would have watched the videos in which Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism, an independent church, made some nasty comments on Taoism and Buddhism. He was called up by the Internal Security  Department and was warned about his comments. Thereafter, he apologised to both the Taoist and Buddhist Federations.

My question is, should he have been let off with only a warning? Pastor Tan obviously knew what he said was wrong, which explains why he took the initiative to apologise. He also knew that this is Singapore, where different religions co-exist and there is racial harmony.

Therefore, why did he post the video knowing that what he said had, in his own words, ‘done a great deal of harm to the Buddhist and Taoists’?

As a Christian myself, I was taught to love my neighbours, which would include people of other faiths.

One only needs to look to our neighbouring country, Malaysia, to see what misunderstandings of religious practices can do to a country.

So I find it disturbing that the the ISD and various Government officials chose to adopt the stance of ’since he has apologised, let’s move on’.

I don’t know the main reason why the ISD chose to intervene when it had previously ignored the AWARE saga. Maybe it was because of the religious tension in Malaysia, or because of the public’s reaction.

What they should have done, instead of warning him, was to punish him. Fine him; send him to jail, whatever. If it takes a show of power to prevent this kind of incidence from happening again, by all means, do whatever that is necessary.

Strangely enough, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng pointed out that not only the Buddhists and Taoist were offended, but this incident had “angered even Singaporeans”.

So why are the authorities so lenient when what Pastor Rony was clearly out of line with the first rule of religious harmony; which is to show respect for other religions? Do they not realise that a ‘warning’ in an increasingly vocal society is not enough?

Sometimes, an apology is simply not enough. In Pastor Tan’s case, he is an ‘opinion’ leader, which means he has more influence than the common man.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Punish Pastor Tan

  1. An interesting take on the topic and certainly valid from an objective point of view. Allow me to point out a couple of issues though.

    It is difficult for any government to enforce certain laws, especially controversial laws, and who is to say that imprisoning a pastor or subjecting this fiasco to the public theatre will not make things simply worse. I am just not sure that punishment is what Pastor Tan needs. I think what is required is public awareness and a frank and open discussion of religion and race in our country.

    By preventing any discussion, whether positive or negative of religion in the public sphere, but striving for this nebulous concept of secularism, we allow controversial people like Pastor Tan to rise up undetected. If our public sphere allowed a more frank and open discussion, I think his actions may have been detected much earlier and there would be less of a furor.

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Singapore: Netizens angry over pastor’s comments on Buddhism and Taoism

  3. Ang Peck Hoon

    When Rony Tan made those remarks , he must believe what he said was right . Then why did he apologise so quickly? He must stand by his beliefs. How could he change his views overnight for fear of the ISD? I think the Holy Spirit was not with him when he made those nasty and rude remarks and certainly It was not with the audience who laughed at his silly jokes. It is time to change the pastor and be careful in choosing the right one.

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