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Function 8 calls on Archbishop to make letters public

Posted on Sep 20, 2012 7:17 PM Updated: Sep 24, 2012 2:01 PM

Civil society group Function 8 has urged Archbishop Nicholas Chia to make public the two letters that are at the heart of the brewing controversy sparked by revelations made in a post by blogger Alex Au.

The group issued a strongly-worded statement saying that it was “deeply saddened” by comments made by the archbishop on Wednesday.

Human rights group Maruah also criticised the archbishop, saying that it was “deeply disappointed” by his remarks and adding that civil society “has been vilified” by what he said on Wednesday.

The archbishop released a statement on Wednesday saying that Mr Au could only have obtained the information about the incident from Function 8. He explained that he withdrew his letter because he was concerned it would “inadvertently harm social harmony”.

Mr Au blogged that the Archbishop had written a letter to Function 8 supporting its campaign to abolish the Internal Security Act, only to retract it after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

On Thursday, Function 8 said that Archbishop Nicholas Chia had made unsubstantiated remarks, including the assertion that Mr Au’s account could only have come from Function 8.

“Has His Grace forgotten that his second letter was cc (carbon-copied) to a third party and that his staff and others within the Church may also have sight of the letters?” it said, referring to a second letter the archbishop reportedly sent stating his wish to withdraw his first letter.

The statement ended with their call for the letters to be publicised.

“We request Archbishop Nicholas Chia to publish his first and second letters and advise on what transpired between the time his first letter was written and his second letter so that the public can judge for themselves whether the actions or inaction of Function 8 and Mr Au were ‘irresponsible and regrettable’.”

They also asked him to make clear if the letter was solicited or not.

Meanwhile, Maruah president Braema Mathi said that they had wanted to speak to the Home Affairs Ministry and other parties privately, and that it was “unfortunate that the matter of the letters was leaked to the media before we could receive clarifications from the relevant bodies”.

Get more on this story in The Straits Times tomorrow.

Read the full statements by Function 8 and Maruah on the following pages: