Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Power of Faith, Muzzled.

Now that Singapore's finally woken up, and realised that there's something happening in Myanmar, I wonder if the powers that be are going to add al-Qaeda to their prayers tonight. In thanks.

After all, it's thanks to them that religious organisations in Singapore are very determined to toe the line and maintain the harmony.

Ok, no, it's not as simple as that. But historically speaking, religious organisations have power, even if they don't have an army, or even a treasury. In Myanmar and in Thailand, the Buddhists monks have a power of sorts, and they can and will use it politically.

In Singapore, there's no reason to believe it can't happen here. After all, more than one person believes that the Christian pastors hold some political influence, and there's a reason why certain visiting imams are going to get their speaker's pass revoked. Religious organisations do have power, even in secular Singapore. Some might even say, especially in secular Singapore, where people are turning to a religious revivalism to fill that unspoken hole left by a rapidly modernising country.

However, there's a current political clime of suspicion left by the events of September 11th. Every religious group is suspected of potentially fomenting inter-religious violence. At this point in time, it only makes sense for the religious leaders to support the status quo. A push for political change runs the risk of being seen as divisive, or opens themselves up for charges of being "disruptive". There are far more groups right now interested in doing interfaith work,than leading demonstrations or pushing the anti-Iraqi-war stance.

It's not as simple as that, of course. The Singapore government has shown that it's quite capable of maintaining religious peace and solo control of the country's joystick in the past. But I can't help thinking that the current "terrorists!!!OMG" atmosphere has given the religious groups an added impetus to stay the hell away from Parliament Lane.

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At 2:06 am, Blogger visceral said...

Operation Spectrum was a good illustration of how the religious leaders render to Caesar. There is a good reason why local authors changed their tack in the seventies.


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