Often-drunk Sikh priest

From ‘Reference to pastor’s father was ill judged’ 27 July 2010 ST Forum

(Surjit Singh, Chairman, Sikh Advisory Board): YOUR report (‘Rise of the megachurches’; July 17), and in particular its reference to Pastor Joseph Prince’s father as ‘an often drunk Sikh priest…’, displayed an unacceptable disregard for minority religions in Singapore.

…When a mainstream newspaper reports such a comment, it conveys a false caricature of Sikh priests as drunkards and irresponsible fathers. It also suggests that there was good reason for Pastor Prince to convert from Sikhism to another religion.

The report could have simply mentioned that his father was a drunkard. There was absolutely no reason for the reference to the father’s religion.

The report has hurt the feelings of the Sikh community in Singapore.

The actual line in the article read as ‘Born in Singapore to an often-drunk Sikh priest and Chinese mother, he lived in Perak for eight years.’ I can see where the ‘Megachurch’ writer is coming from, and if you break down the term to its individual components and analyse them without the veil of conscience, one gets a clearer picture, though that doesn’t excuse ST from lack of subtlety.  ‘Often drunk’ implies that despite having a loser drunkard for a father and lack of a father figure, Joseph Prince still manages to be obscenely successful. ‘Sikh’ and the later description of his mother as ‘Chinese’ tells us about his mixed heritage/ethnicity. ‘Priest’ gives us some idea of how Prince  probably got exposed to religion and spirituality through his father. In combination, they neatly summarise Prince’s background in a tight but incendiary package. But all this is just speculation. The writer should have gotten a quote out of the horse’s mouth instead. Still, there is a tendency of crusaders of racial and religious tolerance to speak for everyone, that their entire community has been hurt by this unintentional slur. Could there possibly be a Sikh in our midst who doesn’t think it’s such a big deal? If I say so-and-so was born to an often-drunk Taoist priest, or an often-drunk Catholic bishop, would the same kind of fuss be blown? Would it give a ‘false caricature’ that all Catholic or Taoist priests are drunkards?If not, wouldn’t it merely boil down to a manner of statistics? That they are so many Catholic or Taoist practitioners that one bad egg won’t harm the reputation of the rest?

And if you ever wondered where the derogatory term ‘bayee’ came from, this writer explains in a 8 July 1950 letter titled ‘Bengali and Bayee’ (Letters to ST). More racial slurs here.

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2 Responses

  1. “often-drunk Taoist priest” would get you an invite from the ISD for sure.

  2. […] – Irreligious: Comment on Joseph Prince’s father not ill-judged – Everything Also Complain: Often-drunk Sikh priest – Singapore Notes: Dastardly Journalism – TOC: London’s history, Singapore’s future? – […]

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