The problem with Vincent's allegation

Why make the claim now and why do it so publicly?

In a stunning revelation posted online, former opposition politician Vincent Wijeysingha claimed that a Catholic priest tried to molest him when he was a teenager.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Dr Wijeysingha, 44, said: "I haven't, till now, disclosed this sorry incident publicly.

"It never seemed momentous and, so far as I'm aware, it didn't damage me. But Archbishop William Goh's pronouncements this weekend prompted me to."

But the claim is momentous, and the timing, troubling. It's an emotive claim that would worry any number of parents. While Dr Wijeysingha may have been strong enough to not have the alleged unsavoury episode damage him, what about other victims? Why did he not out the priest back then and save other children from the clutches of an alleged paedophile? Why not name the priest now? Think of the closure it can offer other possible victims if the authorities were to act on his allegation.

Dr Wijeysingha's claim is not just about the Church and his contrarian views on homosexuality.

This is about bringing to justice an alleged paedophile.

There is no statute of limitation here for criminal offences and the law can move swiftly if Dr Wijeysingha acts on his claim.

There's also the question of timing.

His claim comes as battle lines are being drawn between the whites and the pinks ahead of this Saturday's Pink Dot SG event, to be held at Hong Lim Park.

The event, which was started in 2009, is in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community here. Religious groups have called for supporters to dress in white to make a stand against homosexuality.

Over 21,000 people attended last year's event, including several Muslim women who donned pink headscarves.

Among those calling for a boycott of the event is a small group of Muslims who started a Wear White social-media movement, urging supporters to wear white garments to prayers as they usher in the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Sunday.

Joined in their anti-homosexuality stance is Pastor Lawrence Khong, the controversial head of the Faith Community Baptist Church. He has encouraged his church members to wear white at this weekend's services.

In a Facebook post, he said: "We cannot and will not endorse homosexuality. We will continue to resist any public promotion of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle."

Bold and scandalous statements are being made online with scant attention to the potential impact offline. Would anyone dare say that a call to action online won't be translated into a confrontation on Saturday?

Dr Wijeysingha's claim, if true, is sad and I hope he gets closure.

But the claim is set to pit two groups against each other, even as the Government is trying to carve space for all while calling for calm, tolerance and understanding.

Where does that leave the rest of us caught in between?

A study by the Institute of Policy Studies this year found that nearly three in four Singaporeans separately felt sexual relations between two adults of the same sex was always or almost always wrong, and were against gay marriage.

The last thing we want is for pink and white to clash and spill red here.

This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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