Personally, I am rather disappointed at how the whole thing turned out. Deja vu, for those who remember the PLU/NLB scandal.
PLU is now at liberty to tell you a bit more about what had been happening during the last few days.
Our concern was to try our best to get the grant decision reversed. Not only was the cause unworthy and potentially deleterious to the schoolchildren who would be brainfucked, it was also, as we found on closer examination of the facts, a case of a technically erroneous decision.
It was unjustifiable because in 3 different ways, Liberty League should not have qualified even based on the technical criteria, let alone the qualitative consideration of suitability.
NVPC's own website www.nvpc.org.sg states that for the New Initiative Grant, applicants must show that
- it is a new initiative, not similar to anything done by others before;
- it is non-profit;
- it is secular.
It's common knowledge that Choices have been giving these talks for years in schools. Moreover, Leslie Lung himself had been giving such talks personally, as first-hand accounts have shown. How can this be a "new" initiative? BTW, Leslie claimed on CNA it has never been done before - look up the signel posting.
Liberty League Pte Ltd does not indicate anywhere that it is a non-profit company. Normally, non-profit companies are not "Pte Ltd", but just "Ltd", (or "companies limited by guarantees" in ACRA jargon). For example, it is NKF Ltd, not NKF Pte Ltd.
And of course, I don't have to elaborate the point that it is most assuredly religiously motivated. We didn't just have circumstantial evidence; we had a first hand account from a school student who was in the audience listening to Leslie Lung speak in one of his earlier lectures. There was repeated mention of God, Christianity and the Bible.
Acting not just as gays and lesbians, but as Singaporeans, our concern was what kind of half-cocked background checks did NVPC do before they dished out $100,000, when we as outsiders and amateurs could find all this information in one afternoon? Did this government body do due diligence?
Separately, a reporter from one of the newspapers, herself intrigued by the CNA story, sat at a computer and did a simple google search of Leslie Lung and Liberty League. Within minutes, what she saw troubled her.
She approached PLU for the story and we were pleased to cooperate.
In the meantime, PLU decided that we would play the role of concerned citizens fully. We asked for a meeting with NVPC (the email cc'd Vivian Balakrishnan as well) in order that we may exchange thoughts and present to them what we knew.
The meeting was not pleasant. NVPC (plus one MCYS rep) took the position that they will not tell us anything at all. Everything is confidential. But we were supposed to tell them what we knew. The body language was terribly defensive. But the body language was enough to tell us that they hadn't known that Liberty League was a Pte Ltd company, that its paid up capital was $10.
(This is important, because NVPC's own website says grant receivers have to co-pay 30 - 50 percent of the project cost. So if the grant is $100K, Liberty League ought to be able to come up with $43K to $100K on their own.)
But despite the frosty and suspicious reception, it doesn't matter. Our conscience is clear. We have done our part as citizens. If nothing is done despite our giving facts to NVPC and MCYS, then we know, and we will be in our right to say, where the failure lies.
Working in parallel, for 3 days, the reporter tried to get MCYS to give her a comment in response to her questions. For 3 days, they did not respond. Nonetheless, MCYS was aware that a news story was brewing.
The newspaper story was supposed to be in friday's edition (Jan 20), but minutes before it was to be activated, a call came from a ministry to stop the story. The newspaper editor complied.
What exactly was the motivation behind this Stop order, we don't know.
But anyway, what started off as an issue about the wisdom of giving $100,000 to a group that in our view wasn't suitable, became a story about possible failure of checks within the government... and has now, with censorship, become an issue of transparency and accountability.
The hole is dug deeper and deeper.
It is not a gay issue anymore. It's now an issue about govenance and accountability with public money and public trust.