Ng Kok Song cites Pope Francis on LGBTQ+ issues: Who are we to judge 'very personal matters'?

Ng responded questions arising from comments made by Tan Kin Lian on LGBTQ+ issues.

Matthias Ang | August 24, 2023, 02:44 PM



When asked about his views on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) issues, presidential hopeful Ng Kok Song said he shares the views of Pope Francis.

"Who we are to judge? Pope Francis himself was echoing what Jesus said: Judge not lest ye be judged," Ng said, describing such issues as a "very personal matter".

Previously in 2013, in his first new conference, Pope Francis said "who am I to judge" regarding the sexual orientation of priests, AP News reported.

The pope asked, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

In July 2022, the Catholic Church in Singapore said that while the dignity of the LGBTQ community should be respected, the community must also respect the Church's rights to maintain its position on marriage and the family unit comprising a father, mother and their children, CNA reported.

Responding to a question about Tan Kin Lian's own comments about LGBT issues

Ng responded to the question while on a walkabout at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre on Aug. 24, when a reporter pointed out that fellow presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian commented about LGBT issues.

In a podcast with Yah Lah But on Aug. 21, when asked about concerns from minority groups such as the LGBT community, Tan replied that his views are quite "flexible", which he defined as not being too clear about his views.

However, he has a "suspicion" that these matters of diversity and differences should not be given too much attention.

"If you want to be a homosexual, do it privately," he said. "If you want to do it outwardly, then you actually cause problems with younger people and so on."

He said he held the view that for the LGBTQ+ community, it is better they "do it privately".

"We don't disturb you, you know," he added.

"You don't try to bring your views into the public because there are other people who find it quite difficult, for religious and other reasons. That will be my broad view."

"So when I think the LGBT community wants to be more visible, I think that is not necessary and is not useful."

When asked by the podcast hosts if his statement was going against the fact that the government has repealed Section 377A and that the LGBTQ+ community is part of Singapore's wider community, Tan replied, "I agree on repealing Section 377A but I think the community shouldn't push things too far."

He elaborated, "If they live their lives in private, they should be free from harassment, that I'm quite clear."

When asked by the hosts about housing and marriage for the LGBTQ community, Tan replied that he is quite "open" on housing.

"It's a matter of rights. They should be given housing," he said.

However, marriage rights are a little bit more difficult, he added.

Tan then described himself as such:

"I'm liberal, but not extra liberal so I think there must be some reasonable line.

But this is an issue that I'm not so clear about."

Also responded to Tharman's comment about a close relationship between the PM and president

Ng also said it is "difficult" for a president to discharge his responsibilities objectively if he has too close a relationship with the prime minister.

This was in response to a question about fellow hopeful Tharman Shanmugaratnam's statement that the president's soft power depends "entirely" on the relationship with the prime minister.

On Aug. 23, Tharman said, "If they have respect for each other, then of course the president will have a greater ability to be able to provide independent advice and know that it is taken seriously."

Ng added that there is a "danger" in such a close relationship between the two parties as the president's responsibility is to safeguard the reserves and the integrity of appointments to certain public service positions.

In addition, he said the president must act in the best interests of the people in Singapore.

Not the role of the president to set investment policy for the reserves

Ng also responded to another question about Tan's comment that it is the role of the president to set the investment policy of the reserves.

On Aug. 23, Tan said setting the investment policy of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund is the "fundamental duty" of the president.

Ng replied that this is not the responsibility of the president.

Rather, the responsibility in regard to safeguarding the reserves is to act as a check on the spending of past reserves.

"How that money is invested is not the area of responsibility of the president," he added.

My campaign is financed from my own personal savings

Ng then highlighted that there had been some queries about how he has been financing his presidential campaign and replied that he has been financing his campaign from his personal savings.

"I've decided not to accept any donations — either financial donations or donations in kind — because I do not want to be beholden to anyone in standing for the presidency," he said.

While some well-wishers offered to help finance his campaign, Ng said he had "respectfully" declined such offers and suggested that they donate to a charitable cause instead.

"I want you to be aware that I don't have any political donations for my campaigns," he added.

Top photo by Alfie Kwa