No disrespect, Bertha, but you’re missing the woods for the trees

Bertha Henson, who describes herself as “officially an ex-journalist”, wrote the following post on her blog on 22 September:

With all due respect, Bertha has missed the most crucial point – and indeed the reason why Function 8 has chosen to release its letter to the Archbishop which it sent earlier this year, after the Archbishop retracted his purported support for the 25th anniversary event in June.

Lets rewind a little and go back to what the Archbishop had said in his statement on 19 September [emphasis mine]:

“Au’s article confirmed my fear that the group would use my letter in a manner that I did not agree with, and make use of the Office of the Archbishop and theCatholic Church for their own ends.

“These irresponsible actions can easily cause serious misunderstanding between the Catholic Church and the Government, and damage the longstanding trust and cooperation between the two. It is most regrettable that Au and the group have acted in this manner.”

The next day, the Ministry for Home Affairs released its own statement on the matter. It said [emphasis mine]:

“The actions by this group to publicise the matter through Mr Au is disrespectful of the Archbishop, and contrary to his views and intentions as conveyed to the group after he had decided to retract his letter. This deliberate breach of the Archbishop’s trust confirms the objective of this group to publicly involve the Catholic Church and the Archbishop in their political agenda.”

I don’t know how Bertha feels about the statements from the Archbishop and the MHA but they carry some rather very serious allegations against Function 8.

Underlying the accusations is the insinuation, at least from an observer’s standpoint, that Function 8 had solicited support from the Archbishop and /or Catholic Church and had in mind to use this for its own “political aims”.

Function 8 has rejected any such insinuation.

But how does and how would Function 8 prove that it had not in fact sought support from the Archbishop or Catholic Church for its 2 June event at Speakers’ Corner?

It tried to do this by asking the Archbishop to release the letters he had sent to the group. The Archbishop has since declined to do so.

Function 8 has decided to release its letter to the Archbishop which it had sent earlier this year – on 1 June. (See here.)

Why did Function 8 do so?

To my mind, its intention is to disprove the assertion or accusation that it had somehow solicited the Archbishop’s support – that Function 8 is “using” the Catholic Church “for political aims”, as the MHA statement asserts.

This is the heart of the whole saga.

Bertha Henson has thus missed the woods for the trees – and talks about “respect”. Indeed, she also says:

“I am not sure transparency is the key element that should be respected in this tangle.”

I would have thought transparency is exactly the thing which we need here for clarity and truth. Evidently, the good ex-journalist seems to be disagreeable to this!

With all due respect to the “ex-journalist”, when one is accused of serious things, one has the right to defend oneself. By doing so it does not mean one is disrespectful of the one making the charges, even if it is someone such as the Archbishop. As with anyone, the Archbishop, in making the allegations, must – not should – must be the one to prove his allegations. This is especially so when the charges are such serious ones.

Also, Bertha could do well to ask some questions of the Ministry for Home Affairs too. Questions such as:

What really happened between the issuance of the first letter by the Archbishop and the last letter which asked for the first letter to be returned? Why the sudden apparent change in position by the Archbishop?

Why did the DPM ask to see the Archbishop? Was this really a routine meeting as the MHA statement claimed?

What was said at the meeting? Who was there? Did the Archbishop go alone? Was he asked to go alone? Was the June event mentioned or discussed? What were discussed? What was the DPM’s position on the June event?

The answers to these questions would shed more light on the matter. Asking for “every side” to “back down” while at the same time ignoring the serious allegations made against Function 8 is not the way to go.

On the contrary, Bertha should be asking for more answers. And she would do well to direct them to the MHA, more than the Archbishop.

Otherwise, it is indeed disrespectful that she would seemingly accept that allegations made against another – without proof – are fine.

That would be most unbecoming of someone with a journalistic background. No disrespect, Bertha, but you’re missing the woods for the trees.

For the record, read this: MHA’s “unwarranted allegations” forced us to show reply to Archbishop: Function 8.


9 thoughts on “No disrespect, Bertha, but you’re missing the woods for the trees

  1. With due “respect”, ST trained journalist may be inclined to sometimes “miss the forest from the trees” on certain matters. Just my opinion, no disrepect intended.

  2. In her earlier article on the same issue, Bertha has already indicated her bias, that as a Catholic, she would ‘close ranks’ on the side of the archbishop. I believe she is not interested in truth and transparency in this issue but face and respect for her religion and religious leader.

  3. Its interesting how u hav bold n underlined the words of two letters that seems to have come from different origins, but bears markedly sembalance of bein written by the same author.

  4. She was from formerly from the State Times, what do you expect?
    Your reply is more balanced than her opinion piece

  5. I also noticed that “ex” journalists may be parachuted back into ST. Warren Fernandez is one example. Even Han Fook Kwong who is “retired”, occasionally writes for the ST. Janice Seah (who’d for years, moved to Japan), Sharon Loh (moved to North Carolina) also write for the ST occasionally. I can guess that nobody who “bites the hand that feed it” are likely to be invited back to ST or to write for ST. This being the case, if I were an ex-journalist and I want to “maintain my options”, I will want to be careful whose side I’m perceived to be on, even if I go into blogging. Get my pitch ??

  6. ST vets its journalists very carefully. Ken Quek was one of its very few mistakes.
    If TPL can be MP, no reason why Bertha may not be a future MIW.

  7. So much emphasis on respect for the 3 affected parties – the father, son and holy master.
    May I suggest the ultimate respect one should give to, is the Truth. And it is alarming that a learned journalist like Bertha can propagate transparency as a necessary evil in this instance. Even Peter denied Jesus thrice before the rooster crowed – and he was still honoured in Biblical history. To err is human, but to cover or obfuscate the Truth is not divine. So let’s sort this out sensibly and don’t take the general public as idiots (we need respect too!).
    God Bless everyone.

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