30 August 2007

Religious affiliation of MPs

Here's a table showing the religious affiliation of members of parliament. While it may be interesting, by itself it shouldn't be read as meaning very much. Use with care. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Hello Alex, good article - I did a very similar counting exercise about a year ago and came to 48% Christian (I knew the denominations of a few members somehow). I can help to dig these data out...

What I also added to my list is the GENDER, then 21% were female.

So here is my other issue with these numbers: What bothers me with the gender thing is this: even though we have some female ministers of state, I heard (and cannot confirm this firmly!) that we are the ONLY country in SOA that NEVER had a female cabinet member. The cabinet makes the decision, not the parliament in our country!

So when we always brag about being such a terribly meritocratic society, why is it that 0% of all decision makers where never allowed to be a woman?

Is it

A) All woman in Singapore are 100% incapable, or

B) There is a strong Chauvinism factor?

Guess what I think.. although I am aware you are not a woman rights activist, I think this total disproportion both on parliament and especially on cabinet level gives a very negative signal to all the young capable Singapore women I know.

So why is this, any comments?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Indeed, the gender issue is stark. Although it isn't exactly something I often speak about, I'm entirely with you on this. Based on recall, these neighbours have had a woman in position of power(parenthesis indicates the highest position reached)

Pakistan (PM)
India (PM, President)
Bangladesh (PM)
Sri Lanka (PM)
Thailand (Minister)
Malaysia (Minister)
Indonesia (President)
Philippines (President)
Hong Kong (Chief Secretary)
Taiwan (Vice-President)
China (Deputy PM)
Japan (Minister)

Not sure:
South Korea

Yawning Bread Sampler said...


Error in previous...

Sri Lanka (President and PM)
South Korea (PM)

Indeed, Singapore's leadership comes across as an extremely reactionary bunch.

Anonymous said...

I am guessing, but judging from the CV postings of those whose religions were not stated, there seems to be a subtle implication that religion does not play a major role in their lives. In other words, they effectively have no religion.

If this is correct, then the group representing no religion in Sg Parliament is as over-represented as the Christians. Personally, I see this as a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Just wondering, although the christian faction is the largest, compared to the rest of the MPs, they are not the majority (i.e. 44% as per the analysis).

While it can be argued that as the largest group, the christians in parliament can dictate terms, they are not the majority. If other religions were not homophobic and if the bloc of MPs under no religion are also not homophobic, then together, wouldn't they represent a majority that is not homophobic.

Wouldn't then they be able to dictate terms?

So, I mean, with what is going on in Parliament, it might not only be christians suffering from homophobia or apathy. No?

If the remaining 20% who didn't declare are all christians, the majority is there. But statistically speaking, would it not be more likely that it follows a similar distribution as the rest of parliament? To hit 50% of the whole parliament, the remaining 16 MPs would have to have 12 of them being christians.

I guess the thing I'm trying to say is it would be easy to use this data to say 'look, see, more christians as MPs, christians are homophobes, that is where our problems are. those christians!'

but the data also can show that 'hey, they aren't the majority, why aren't the other groups doing something. why aren't they coming together and fighting for the gay community. oh wait...maybe they are homophobes too. or they just don't care..'

i worry that this data and its representation would allow people who already don't like christians more fodder to just whack.

With regards to the other groups, it seems that only the Buddhist population is significantly under represented in Parliament.

So, in terms of representation, only one group is losing out?

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

This is exactly what I think we should avoid, the simple equation of Christian = homophobic and non-Christian = not homophobic.

Nor does our parliamentary system even work on "majority" basis.

wonky said...

These are the ministers whom I know to be Catholic:

- George Yeo: This is declared on his profile page at the Cabinet website

- Lim Boon Heng: This was stated by him in one of his speeches on the IR

- Lim Swee Say: I don't have any facts to verify this but I have heard from my Catholic friends that he has been spotted as a regular church-goer in one of the Catholic parishes in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

surely you should be looking at the no. of christians among the top leaders rather than ordinary MPs? I dont think they constitute 44% of the group PM, MM, SM and DPMs; I would guess the majority to be agnostic

also, I dont think the negative responses to gay activists are motivated by religion; it is simply an issue of control and social conformity


Anonymous said...

Will they ban the teaching of the theory of evolution in biology too?
I wonder how many of them are Creationists too?
We are in a sense living in the dark ages.
Oh My God!

Sillyporean said...

I did a similar calculation about 8 months ago, Christians are definitely over-represented by about 3.5 times, Catholics by 1.8 times.

Having no religions stated doesn't mean they're free thinkers. It's odd that most of the ministers didn't state their religion, but the MPs do.

Jimmy Mun said...

I believe Goh Chok Tong is a Methodist. Lim Swee Say studied in Catholic High, but I am not sure if he is Catholic (Lee Hsien Loong studied in Catholic High too, and he is definitely not Catholic). Amazing how little we know about our cabinet ministers.

Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding their declared religions, I doubt PAP MPs really fervently worship any god (at least not of the celestial kind). As to who or what they worship first and foremost, I shan't comment.

Anonymous said...

a fundamentalist would not get past the tea sessions and the final interview, for the simple reason that his/her strong beliefs would prevent him/her from giving the "system" complete loyalty

the same applies to anyone committed to a "cause": remember the "system" is always the larger "cause"


Anonymous said...

no reason to be surprised at the figures. It is well known that christians are over represented even among undergraduates. e.g. my university class, christians and catholics made up about 50%.

nick said...

Lee Hsien Loong attends a Catholic church, and Vivian Balakrishnan attends a Methodist church, if i'm not mistaken.
I'm a Catholic, and I believe that homosexual acts are wrong. However, I , as a libertarian, believe that homosexuality should not be against the law for we should have our rightful liberty to act according to our own will insofar as it does not infringe upon the equal rights of others--consensual homosexual acts don't.