Saturday, 3 August 2013

New family pledge emphasises the importance of family values

Singapore's first official family pledge was launched on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, to encourage individuals to reaffirm their commitment to their loved ones. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL FAMILY COUNCIL

Singapore's first official family pledge was launched on Tuesday to encourage individuals to reaffirm their commitment to their loved ones.

"It (the pledge) talks about family as the foundation of society, that every one of us has a part to play to strengthen the family," said chairman of the National Famly Council, Mr Lim Soon Hock. Mr Lim added that research has shown that people who make a commitment through a pledge are more likely to follow through with their intentions. Several organisations plan to distribute the pledge and it will also be shared on social media platforms.

The pledge was launched on Tuesday afternoon by the National Family Council at an appreciation lunch for its members and partners involved in this year's National Family Celebrations which were held last month. Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing hosted the lunch and also spoke about the continued importance of family as a social safety net

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The Family Pledge discriminates against single parent

The recently unveiled Family Pledge by the National Family Council intones: “We affirm the commitment of marriage between husband and wife.” In so doing, the Pledge marginalizes the courageous community of single parents who raise their children in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Already, in an effort at anchoring the traditional concept of Family as the foundation of Singapore society, the government has needlessly and cruelly institutionalized discrimination against Singles and against Single Parents. The Family Pledge by a supposedly politically and religiously neutral organization further drives a crucifix into the hearts of those brave mothers and fathers who have chosen to shoulder the responsibility of raising a child on their own, with sheer bravery.

In all these years, rather than showing compassion toward single parents who did not renege on their responsibility of parenthood, the government has instead chosen to marginalize them and discriminate against them in policy. See this: Single mothers should be given Baby Bonuses and other benefits

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The Family Pledge I will pledge to

Since the Family Pledge became news two days ago, reactions have ranged from highly supportive to extremely offended. Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing, has called it “a very good ground-up initiative”.

However, the Pledge has drawn flak from the online community, with individuals such as blogger Kirsten Han highlighting how the Pledge excludes certain groups of people

Two of our writers at the Breakfast Network decided that they would rewrite the pledge in their own way. Here’s what they came up with:

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What unAuthentic Family Pledge

I was completely uninterested in this Family Pledge thingy until the Breakfast Network published an article on it. I read BN because their articles are short, gets to the point quickly in a breezy style. Folks like them and others will eventually show the MSM how to do it better or even right.

But all that isn't good enough. I don't want all these superficiality and dressing up. Give me authenticity. This is what I often get when I get the chance to hear PN Balji on radio (he is not from the BN). The problem with MSM is that except for a few writers, they love crap, apple polishing and the superficial official line - Just like this 'The Family Pledge', which  BN's Alvin Pang had torn apart.

The age of do as we are told is over. Now you have to sell the reasons for every command, in fact it can no longer be commanded.

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What’s missing in the Family Pledge?

So Singapore now has a Family Pledge, courtesy of the National Family Council and evidently a follow-up of an earlier “Singapore Family Pledge Movement” in 2010.  Here’s the pledge in full:
We, the people of Singapore, pledge to build strong and happy families.
We affirm the commitment of marriage between husband and wife.
And take responsibility to nurture our children, and respect our elders.
We celebrate and honour the roles of each family member.
And uphold the family as the foundation of our lives, and the building block of our society.
Sounds a bit like the National Pledge right?  It even borrows from that sweeping opening: “We, the citizens of Singapore…”  So it’s meant to have the same authoritative swoosh, something to rouse all Singaporeans to pledge themselves to

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The National Family Pledge: Whose Nation is it anyway?
"While aiming to encourage family life in Singapore, this pledge excludes same-sex couples, divorced parents, single parents, or anyone not in a ‘traditional’ nuclear family structure. According to this pledge, these people don’t deserve to be seen as families. On top of the everyday struggles of a single parent in Singapore – because, for some reason, the state can’t seem to treat them like any other parent – we have added this giant stinking whopper of an insult. Here you go, just a little reminder that you’re not accepted here."
—Kirsten Han, on Spuddings.
I agree with Kirsten Han, obviously: the family pledge is atrocious and obnoxious, heteronormative and bigoted in all the ways we’ve come to expect of discourse on family here.

And yet, I’m haunted by the sense that responses like this miss the point somewhat.

Kirsten’s main gripe is that embedded in the pledge is an assertion that queers will never be “accepted here," activating an anxiety over being excluded from the nation. ‘We the people of Singapore’ does not include, in this reading of the family pledge, any families that fall outside the nexus of male-female husband-wife pairings and their nuclear dynasties forthwith. Although she doesn’t explicity discuss this, the question is one of Nation. Kirsten reads the pledge as saying: “queers will never be admitted into the nation," and she argues eloquently for why we should be.

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LGBT group going bonkers over Family Pledge

Aw, come on! Since when has the LGBT community been so concerned about single mothers, divorced parents and even polygamists and Muslim marriages? What's all this barrage of criticism that attacks the Singapore Family Pledge, saying that it is bias against all the above, when their main grouse is actually about the exclusion of same sex marriage?

In the internet community, you don't get to hear single moms and divorced parents making a big hooha about the pledge. But all the noise comes from mainly LGBT parties, who mainly are upset that their same-sex marriage is not mentioned. Yet, they hypocritically make a big noise, pretending to be protesting on behalf of single mothers and divorced parents.

Here are some examples of the pretended concerned parties:

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