Social media has brought us all a little closer.
For some, however, the closeness it has granted us becomes a little of an overestimation.
Take Desmond Loo, for example, who on Monday morning wrote a message to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The topic: The Attorney-General's Chambers' decision to file a question of law with the Court of Appeal, in response to the High Court's reduction of the City Harvest Kongvicts' jail sentences.
Now, do bear the topic in mind as you go through his (pretty publicly viewable) letter; it'll help.
So Loo started off the Facebook message like a legit letter:
"Dear PM Lee,"
His lengthy prose can be divided into 2 parts —
1) Who is to blame for the trouble the church is in now, and
2) how the church has stayed strong in the face of trouble.
1) pitchforks, and
2) the pitchforked.
First, he questioned the reason behind Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam stating "this matter is not over yet."
"Is this fueled by public outcry over the reduction or is part of our highly revered judicial system?"
He gave his opinion as to why he thinks it might be because of the public outcry that followed.
"If it is the latter, would not one think over the course of the last 7 years and some 140 trial days that the Minister would have brought this to the public's attention?"
Which worried Loo.
"However, if it is indeed a response to public outcry I will be very very disturbed.
Throughout the judicial process of over 6 years, we the church did what law abiding citizens should do, and that is to let the process run its course and respect the laws of our land."
He highlighted the media's role in this, but graciously forgave most of them.
"I do not entirely blame the media as their job is to bring (to the best of its knowledge and sources provide), true and accurate reporting under the banner of freedom of speech that we enjoy in Singapore."
But he implied a few of these outlets who have persistently kept the news in the general psyche, questioning what they had to do with the incident.
"A little sensationalism cannot be blamed as they do need to sell more copies, but the group of contributors who fuel such sensationalism should be the one in the spotlight.
What is their motive? How are they involved in the church (to which is the very center of this entire case)? How have their lives been affected the last 7 years?"
The perseverance of the church (Pitchforked).
He highlighted the perseverance of the church members in the face of the aforementioned mob.
"On the other hand, we the church, had to endure questions on why we remain for over 7 years.
But in that 7 years, we continued to give. Not because we are brainwashed or less intelligent than the average Singaporean, but because this is our home, our church."
He also touched on the topic of spiritual maturity.
"Pas Kong Hee is our pastor, and he carries the responsibility of leading us, the church into spiritual maturity."
Which means this.
"Spiritual maturity meaning a deep love for God and people, which is why we continue to encourage members to start families.
Which is why visit [sic] homes, hospitals, low income families, even to disaster struck places like Japan when the need arose. Which is why we chose not to respond to attacks online but respect the rule of law."
After making his case for the past, he looked towards the future.
"The Crossover was to be an extension of these beliefs, and we supported it fully.
If there is Crossover II launched tomorrow, this 15,000 who remains the church today, will support like we did in the early 2000s."
Especially the near future.
"While we thank God for the reduced sentences, we painfully accept and stand by the 6 and their families as they prepare to serve time in the next few weeks.
When our 7 year ordeal came to an end (or at least we thought so), your Minister decides to make a statement that it is not over."
He finally laid out his closing statements, which served one purpose, to draw clearer lines between what, or who, matters, and what, or who, doesn't.
"A small group of noisy netizens attempted to chart the 2011/2015 elections. They blamed the government for everything from CPF monies to high cost of living.
To that we lost an esteemed and highly talented individual, the former Minister George Yeo. What have we learnt from GE2011/2015?
Focus on the real issues, listen to real people. Then the country moves forward."
Ending with this plea:
"Sir, the real verdict has been issued. Real people are sentenced, real families have been affected and will continue to be affected for the next 3.5 years.
We respect our judicial system to be fair and highly regarded.
All we ask is to let us the church, which is the charity that the COC said is protecting, move on and start the healing process.
Thank you and respectfully yours,
Now, here are two factual clarifications:
1) Minister Shanmugam was merely pointing out that pending the decision of either party (the Kongvicts' lawyers or the Attorney-General's Chambers — the criminal prosecutors) to file a question of law with the Court of Appeal within 30 days, the case is not over. Which is a fact. More on that here.
2) He made this statement in response to an impression he had that media reports were painting the picture of the entire saga being over. He could not possibly have spoken any earlier than after Friday, when the High Court issued its verdict on both sides' initial appeals back in end-2015.
So, in conclusion:
- CHC members have been severely affected by the seven-year saga.
- Netizens aren't real people.
- Let bygones be bygones.
- They trust the judicial system.
- But is the judicial system affected by public outcry?
- Let bygones be bygones.
- There are many possible better names for a follow-up project than "Crossover II", but it will garner the full support of the 15,000 members of CHC.
- Some media have an agenda against CHC.
- Let bygones be bygones.
Here's a screenshot of his full post, in case you can't see it from the link above:
Top image adapted from photo by Martino Tan