Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Neither petite nor passive, Thio Li Ann brings it on!

I finally got to hear and meet this remarkable lady at a seminar on media this morning at Kum Yan Methodist Church. She was one of the two keynote speakers. Li Ann's book, The Mind Gap, was available at the talk. She didnt sound lawyerly or professorial but was relaxed and entertaining. Her jibes and fast talk lit up the place.

The reaction she evokes from her opponents is understandable. Her humor, quips, barbs and arguments tend to sting, especially when you're at the end of them. And she does not give the impression of taking prisoners in a debate. This chica has absolutely no qualms about making her views known. But one observation needs to be made. She didnt sound like the moralizing right wing christian fundamentalist her opponents and make her out to be. Mainstream media love her because she gives them a lot to write about.

Her defense of free speech, even for her opponents, was an eye opener for me. She does not believe in a theocracy, saying at one point Im a Protestant! How can a Protestant believe in theocracy? When was the last time anyone identified themselves as a Protestant!

Is she enslaved to the American right? I cant remember the exact words but I thought she said, Dont go to some stupid american website and think you can apply their stuff in Singapore.

Li Ann, a liberal? Yeah, why not!

Her spirited advocacy for by-elections in GRC wards and comments about the unfairness of restrictions on political party films are reflective of a politician committed to diversity in the public square. She is not a single issue politician, although the local media tend to only portray her as an anti gay politician. Labeling politicians and creating a straw man or woman are potent weapons in political squabbles. Singaporeans can be classier. Lets not put this lady or any politican for that matter in a box and make unnecessary assumptionns about them.

Bring it on, Miss Thio!


blogpastor said...

Ms Thio must have been pretty persuasive and winsome. I guess she knocked off the misconceptions media have formed in the public about her. Thanks for telling us about the other side of her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Thio Li-ann quote: "I'm a Protestant! How can a Protestant believe in theocracy?" It just goes to show again how dangerously little she knows. Ever read up on eg. John Calvin and his model of government? Be careful of people who dunno what they claim to teach.

(A Christian)

Bolivian Beat said...

Dear Gweek,

Hey thanks for your comment. There are of course different kinds of Protestants. Calvin tried to apply biblical injunctions in Geneva. It didnt work. I dont know if he understood himself as a theocrat. A theocrat is someone who believes that the Divine Kingdom,in all its expression and virtues can be fully established by earthly rulers. Islam is probably closest to any understanding of theocratic rule on earth.

Calvin was too much of a biblical theologian to believe this. He shows no inkling toward theocracy in his writings. His enthusiasm however may have gotten the better of him at Geneva. I wouldnt refer to him as a theocrat.

John Maust said...

Nice column, hermano. Keep writing!
John Maust

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, Raphael. The dictionary meaning for theocracy is "a government ruled by or subject to religious authority." It's no good redefining a term so that Protestants will look better. History has seen enough so-called Protestant theocratic projects other than Calvin's Geneva. To consider Islam more prone to theocracy than Protestantism is just self-deluding. Rather, we should keep watch and be mindful that, like almost all religious systems, even Protestantism can have theocratic tendencies. Church leaders should be concerned enough to look after their flocks with care and not let the more easily persuaded among them to be swayed.


Conrade Yap, (Dr) said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I feel there are too much information and misinformation going on about this lady. Best thing is to hear her personally, and that you have done. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

She actually called The Online Citizen a swine in latin during the speech!

Bolivian Beat said...

Dear Gweek,

I take your point about the danger of theocratic tendencies.

Being ruled by a religious authority or being subject to religious authority implies that the religious authority is positionaly placed to actually RULE and legally summon people to SUBJECT themselves to the religious authority. Iran's Islamic republic is run along these lines. We do not see this elsewhere except in Islamic republics.

One man's or one woman's theocratic tendency is another man's exercise of the church's calling to be salt and light.

Was Martin Luther Kings social activism in the 60's reflective of theocratic tendencies or was he obeying the command to be Salt and Light in society?


Anonymous said...

Raphael, I don't see how MLK can be used to prove that Protestantism doesn't have theocratic tendencies. I conversely don't see how you can use Iran to say that Islam has theocratic tendencies. One just can't pick and choose examples for one's benefit.

I precisely use Calvin, who is mainstream, at the heart of Protestantism itself, to point out that even Protestantism isn't exempt. It would be naive to think otherwise. History is filled with examples: dun forget American settlements such as Puritan New England too. Today's Dominionist activists actually preach Christian theocracy.