Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Sunday, October 06, 2013


8:39 PM By Barry Smyth , No comments

One of Singapore's biggest independent churches has been ordered by the Government to compensate a female church worker fired because of her alleged adulterous relationship.

She complained to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in September 2012. In August 2013, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin decided she was "dismissed without sufficient cause". He ordered the church to compensate the woman's salary and maternity benefits of $7,000.

The ministry said that it looked into the complaint and found that the woman was "dismissed without sufficient cause within six months of her delivery date" and that the church did not give her the salary and maternity benefits she was entitled to under the Employment Act.

Recently it would appear that the church in question has told The Straits Times that it plans to file papers on Wednesday seeking a High Court judicial review of Mr Tan's decision. A judicial review is when an applicant takes a public authority to court to seek redress of a particular decision over which the applicant feels aggrieved.

The church says it wants the case reviewed as it believes Mr Tan acted unconstitutionally in interfering with how the church manages its own affairs. And forgive me if I laugh out loud at this point.

While the church in question can hire and fire who it wants and for whatever reason it wants it does not have the right to do so in a way that over rules any secular laws that protect an individual. And the day when a church has the effrontery to challenge a secular law is a very black day indeed.

While everyone is free to follow the religion of their choice, no religion should ever think that it is above the law or that it has the right to influence any secular law or policy. As a religion do what you are there to do, nurture the souls of your congregation and do so in quiet humility and modesty.

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