A young NSman has become an overnight sensation for posting a menacing and insensitive Facebook message in a conservative, anti-homosexuality group called We Are Against PinkDot Singapore.
In his posting, he wrote: “I am a Singaporean citizen. I am a NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.”
His remarks were made on June 4 in reaction to the issue of foreign sponsors supporting the Pink Dot event.
Weeks later in an ominous twist of fate, a homophobic Muslim man Omar Mateen, 29, launched a deadly mass shooting inside a packed gay bar in Orlando, Florida, killing at least 50 people and wounding another 52.
So despite the events in Orlando being half a world away, Bryan Lim’s comment has now understandably taken on a darker, much more sinister reading than before.
As of the time of writing, netizens have lodged at least three police reports against Bryan, with one netizen going so far to contact his employer, Canon Singapore, for them to take further action against Bryan. Canon has issued its statement on June 13 on its Facebook, saying that it would conduct investigations into the matter.
Bryan himself has apologised for his comment and deleted his Facebook page.
He wrote in his apology:
“I apologize for the misunderstanding. My words were strong. I did not mean anyone. I meant Bloomberg and foreign intervention in local matters. This was taken out of context.
“I hope this clears the air. I did not mean physical bullets nor physical death. I mean open fire in debate and remove them from Singapore domestic matters.”
Alas, the damage has been done.
Bryan now faces the combined wrath of the police, his employer and angry netizens, who have gleefully CSI-ed his past employment and personal details, and splashed his photo across prominent social media pages. Besides ruffling the feathers of the LGBTIQ activist lobby in Singapore, Bryan has also done a great disservice to his own fellow conservatives by (unintentionally) associating their opposition to homosexuality with an act of terror.
Nevertheless, we should all take a step back and look at two very disconcerting outcomes that might result from all this public shaming.
The first outcome concerns Bryan himself. Netizens baying for blood are now calling on his employer to give him the boot and have already begun a campaign of cyber harassment against Bryan and other conservatives. What will be unfortunate is if this reverse-hate campaign ends up becoming the tipping point that drives Bryan to commit the atrocity that he has named, especially given his position as an arms-bearing NSman.
Then there is the worrying situation where like-minded netizens have come up in support of Bryan’s comments. Will Bryan, and other like him, be driven to more desperate and radical conservative ideology (think neo-Nazism) because of their ostracism from society? If they cannot find reconciliation with a society that they perceive to be intent on disregarding their views, might they turn to more underground, and potentially violent, means of making their voices heard?
Let’s keep in mind that these are worst-case scenarios. There is a high probability that the buzz surrounding this issue will die down, and Bryan will come out of this incident with a slap on the wrist, no more and no less. Opposition to homosexuality will remain, but these individuals will probably stick to more constitutional means of getting their way, as they have done so for years.
The sword of Damocles continues to dangle over politically divisive issues such as homosexuality and 377A in Singapore. Singaporeans and their government will need to try and reign in individuals from the political fringes, whether left or right, to avoid a potential Orlando Shooting from taking place here.
Joel Koh is an aspiring part time writer and journalist with a day job.