The Constitution of Singapore guarantees religious freedom to her citizens. However, on 2nd April 1982, the religious freedom of 40 members of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church) was infringed when the HSA-UWC was de-registered on the grounds of being prejudicial to public welfare and good order in Singapore. The editorial of "The Straits Times" on 3rd April'82 very appropriately commented that the state has nipped the bud before activities were allowed to grow for fear of problems associated with the controversial movement.
Application for registration
We applied for the registration of HSA-UWC with the Registrar of Society early in 1980. The law firm responsible for the registration, Cheo & Tio, received a rejection letter from the Registrar of Society on 27th Aug'80.
The pro-tem President, Mr. Tan, appealed to the Registrar, Mr. Benny Ortega to reconsider the application. Mr. Tan personally met with Mr. Ortega together with the Assistant Registrar. Mr. Ortega expressed concern that the constitution did not make clear of foreign membership and control. Mr. Tan reassured the Registrar and resubmitted fresh copies of the constitution clearly indicating that membership would be restricted to Singaporeans only and the activities of the association will be financed by contributions from members in Singapore.
Members were overjoyed when we received the good news that the application was successful and the HSA-UWC went into the history book of Singapore when it was gazetted on 10th October 1980.
Home Church and early Church History
A number of full-time volunteers were at this time living together with Mr. Glass, who loved us more dearly than his own physical brothers and sisters. Mr. Glass who is keen in the health food business, registered Tongil Singapore Pte Ltd in 1976 together with Mr. Tan, to market ginseng products from Korea. Mr. Glass, in the position as elder brother was advising and counseling our spiritual development, by giving us valuable internal guidance.
A number of home church projects were started in 1980 and brothers and sisters adopted 360 homes each as their home church area. Three sisters centering on sister's Ai Kun home, pioneered Ang Mo Kio and two brothers and one sister centering on Brother Andrew's home pioneered Marine Parade. It was through our home church that we learned substantially to love our community by serving them. We worked very closely with the Resident Committees in our areas.
The registered address of our association was changed to sister's Ai Kun home since it became the most successful home church project in Singapore. When the dissolution notice was served to sister Ai Kun at her home on 2nd April'82, it came as a big shock because it is unthinkable that our home church activities and other humanitarian and cultural activities could be prejudicial to public good and welfare in Singapore.
The official statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs obtained years after the ban revealed that the main reason for the ban was the involvement of Mr. George Glass, an American citizen, in the running of the association.
A letter was written to the Permanent Secretary requesting a meeting to clarify the charges made against Mr. George Glass and the HSA-UWC. Our request, made immediately after the dissolution, did not even receive a letter of acknowledgement.
In the course of the investigation that led to the eventual Government's stern action of banning the association, no representative of HSA-UWC was called to present its case. No prior warning was given to indicate that we were contravening the Society Act and the ban came as a shock to all members. To this day members of the Unification Movement are completely at a loss as to the reasons why the HSA-UWC can be a threat to public welfare and good order. On the contrary, the short 2 years the movement was allowed to operate generated more positive responses from the public through its home church work in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade.
Fundamental Rights Deprived
Adherents, disciples and friends of the Unification Movement, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, are today deprived of their fundamental rights in Singapore to worship God and teach the deep heart of God from the time of Creation, Fall and Restoration History. Singapore maintains very strict laws for illegal assembly even if the purpose is for worship, study and the teaching of God's Word.
Appeals: Futile Efforts
Countless letters of appeal have been made to Members of Parliament, Minister of Home Affairs, President, and even the Prime Minister with letters of support from parents, religious leaders and academicians in Singapore and abroad. All these appeals have fallen on deaf ears. More recently for the last two years, no letters of acknowledgement were sent in response to our appeals. The government's approach is simply to ignore the rights of the minority to "protect" the rights of the majority based on the supposition that the teachings, practices and beliefs of the movement is a threat to national security. The Minister of Home Affairs decision in banning the movement cannot be questioned and there is no legal recourse in reinstating a bona fide religious organisation that is registered in more than 120 countries of the world.
Harassment and Persecution
Disciples and friends of the Unification Movement founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, are constantly living in fear that their career advancement will be curtailed because of their religious beliefs. A returned scholar who became a member while studying in Germany and worked in the Police Force for many years was forced to emigrate due to poor prospects working in the government sector and simply for fear of being incriminated. He was told earlier on that there were no prospects for him in the Civil Service unless he renounced his faith. Yet another scholar who joined in Japan who is still working in the government sector is marginalised in his career advancement simply because he refused to renounce his faith. Numerous others who worked in the Ministry of Defense have been warned repeatedly that they must stopped their involvement if they want to keep their jobs and enjoy promotion.
Religious leaders and noted scholars and professors are harassed by the Internal Security Department when they want to attend the many international cultural and scholarly conferences organised by the numerous humanitarian organisations founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Academicians are discouraged from attending and when attempts failed, they are told that they are attending the conferences on a personal capacity. Good testimonies and reports made by these academicians on their return from conferences are ignored and some even have to suffer the humiliation of making a police report upon their return.
Breaking up families
Many others who have foreign spouses suffered the great injustice of having their families broken up by a government that pride itself as one believing in family values but in practice, banned the entry of foreign spouses just because they are members of the HSA-UWC in their country of origin. Six families were living precariously in a neighboring town of Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Older foreign spouses in Singapore, are also constantly harassed with the fear that they too will suffer the same fate as these younger spouses if they are suspected of being associated with the activities of the movement.
We are law-abiding citizens of Singapore and we have the highest respect for the government of Singapore. We are asking men of conscience and civil rights champions from the worldwide community to register their whole-hearted disapproval against the bigotry and religious intolerance in Singapore.
Please sign our
book before leaving. Thank you.
So far there were hits since 27th April'98
This website is prepared by Puay-Lam Teo(former Secretary of the HSA-UWC Singapore)