Sedition! Sedition! Halleluyiah!
The case slowly unfolds. While it is too early to pass judgment yet until the local media releases more information, my question is: were Muslims really specifically targeted in the couple’s evangelism or were they collateral damage in the duo’s zeal to convert anybody? The material distributed seem purposely anti-Islam from what the media reported, so perhaps the couple focused their efforts in making Muslims join their flock.
Coming from a majority perspective and taking our demographical dominance in Singapore for granted, nobody says it openly but are Muslims being over sensitive? Maybe not. We all have our stereotypes of Christian fundamentalists anyway. Some of these Christian fundies are so uptight about their struggle to amass converts by ridiculing other religions or other Christian denominations even. I have Catholic and Buddhist friends who can bear witness to that.
Dec 5, 2008
Couple go on sedition trial
They are accused of distributing offensive publications to 3 people
By Elena Chong
A CHRISTIAN couple are on trial for sedition, facing charges of distributing publications that are seditious and objectionable to three Muslims.
SingTel technical officer Ong Kian Cheong, 49, and his wife, Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 45, an associate director with UBS, are alleged to have distributed a seditious publication to two men, and an objectionable publication to a woman, between March and December last year.
They were arrested on Jan 30 this year.
A police ambush party had seen Ong dropping off a stack of envelopes at a mailbox outside SingTel Comcentre in Exeter Road that morning. SingPost was asked to open the mailbox and 22 brown envelopes were recovered. Ong later admitted that he had posted them.
More items were found in his car and his Maplewoods condominium home, including laptops and four boxes of comic tracts with different titles.
His wife was arrested that afternoon. The couple were produced in court in April and their trial began yesterday.
A prosecution witness, Traffic Police staff sergeant Irwan Ariffin, 32, who received an evangelistic booklet titled The Little Bride by post, told District Judge Roy Neighbour that he made a police report after reading it on Oct 19 last year.
He felt that the booklet of comics appeared to condemn his Islamic faith. He found some of the dialogue to be disrespectful towards a religion.
He told the court that in his opinion, whatever faith one professes, one should not criticise or condemn another religion.
He felt the booklet’s contents could have easily sparked religious disagreements between Muslims and Christians.
The couple’s lawyer Selva K. Naidu offered his clients’ apologies for hurting Mr Irwan’s feelings. But the witness said the damage had been done and any apology should not be made to him alone.
Assistant administrator Isa Raffee, 35, told the court that he received the booklet, Who Is Allah?, in his mailbox last December. Going through it, he found 10 instances which were offensive to Muslims.
Mr Isa told the court that he felt anger that turned into disbelief, shock and sadness. ‘There is nothing wrong in promoting one’s religion but it is unacceptable when the person promotes his religion and offends other religions,’ he said.
He told the court that he believed that the publication was intended to provoke or incite religious and racial hatred as well as convert Muslims to Christians.
When Mr Naidu offered the same apology to him, the father of three said he would accept the apology, but it would be hard to forget what had happened.
He agreed with the lawyer that although he had been hurt by the words in the publication, they did not make him feel hostile towards anybody. ‘We Muslims in Singapore are able to think rationally and we do not let our feelings make us do undesirable acts,’ he said.
He said he had seen how Muslims worldwide had been affected after the Danish media published cartoons about Islam. ‘We do not want such things to happen in Singapore,’ he said.
Mr Isa said he had grown up with Christian neighbours and had invited them home for lunch. Some of his army officers were devout Christians as well, and they were ‘nice people’.
But he added: ‘Again, I must emphasise that offending one’s religion is unacceptable and dangerous.’
The case continues.