The Next Weekly Interview with Choi Chi-sum
The Tsar of the Crusade. By Chan Sing-lam. Next Weekly. Issue #899, May 31, 2007, p.76-80. (also available at HKGolden)
In the Chinese University Student Press affair, public opinion started in a one-sided way against the students. The main detractor was the Christian Society for Truth and Light (明光社) whose Secretary General is Choi Chi-sum.
At the July 1st march of 2004, the gays and lesbians were chosen to lead the parade from the front. Choi Chi-sum ordered all Christians in Hong Kong to boycott the march. Earlier, the movie <Autumn's Tale> and the RTHK program <Comrade, Lover> drew complaints and he was involved too. Therefore, several media outlets have called the Society for Truth and Light as the "Moral Taliban."
Choi Chi-sum had been sailing smoothly. But after waves of criticisms against the Student Press, public opinion turned into sympathy for the students and dissatisfaction with the viciousness of the Society for Truth and Light. Even the Christian believer Chan Tsz-yee, who is a lecturer at the Hong Kong Baptist University, had to sigh that the moral alliance has made the students suffered.
Suddenly 47-year-old Choi Chi-sum turned from executor to sinner.
He is opposed to pre-marital sex. He also opposes masturbation even if one does not have a marriage partner. He does not allow intimacy between unmarried couples. One must never solve matters by oneself. One ought to hold back all the time. Only nocturnal emissions are permitted. "To a certain extent, that is right."
What about sexual fantasies? Is one allowed to fantasize?
"Fantasizing about a member of the opposite sex? Hey, if it isn't about your wife, you need to STOP!"
Has a lofty person such as this ever masturbated himself?
"If you are asking whether I have tried masturbation ... I have."
So this is a case that only government officials are allowed to enjoy sex whereas common citizens are not even allowed to masturbate?
"I have told lies before, but I still keep telling people not to lie!"
Choi Chi-sum blames his transformation from winner to loser this time to the Chinese University administration and the media.
"I don't think that this has anything to do with us. The turning point was when the Chinese University administration issued warnings against the student and the media sensationalized that the students might be kicked out of school while also facing serious legal consequences. Public opinion suddenly turned into sympathy for the weaker group."
He denied any responsibility whatsoever. "The Society for Truth and Light is just one of the many organizations that offered their views. Why is all the responsibility being laid down to us? They are just looking for an excuse. At first, we did not comment much. We only spoke when reporters made requests, or we made some comments on our website." But that is your platform. "We did not go to many of the forums in a high-profile manner!"
The problem is precisely because he did not "go to many of the forums." At several forums discussing the Chinese University Student Press, the former righteous superman Choi Chi-sum suddenly became a hermit and did not attend any of them. "The list of invited speakers consists of people who promote sexual liberation. The discussion was not fair."
Who is advocating sexual liberation? "For example, Jo Lee Wai-yee, Joseph Cho Man-kit (the person interviewed for <Comrade, Lover>) and Yau Ching (Lingnan University Department of Cultural Studies Associate Professor and a Christian). They were looking for someone to be an archery target." But you ought to show up and express dissenting views. You should not be afraid of criticisms and cower. "When an organization decides whether to attend or not, it must determine whether it is meaningful. I did not think that it was meaningful."
He emphasized that he had never opposed the Student Press from discussing incest and bestiality.
"But there has to be sufficient warning in order to not influence young people who are not mature enough." This comes from someone who has a record for reversing his position.
How so? This is because when we were discussing homosexual love, he said: "You go ahead and do a public opinion poll. You see how many Hong Kong parents want their children to come into contact with homosexuals." But I seem to recall that he had opposed the government on polling about homosexuality. "No. We have even done public opinion polls ourselves before." But if I can retrieve the news report that proved that you had once objected to polling, you would be embarrassed. "Alright!"
On April 29, 2006, Ming Pao reported: "The Alliance To Defend The Family collected more than 10,000 signatures from organizations and individuals and published four full pages of advertisements in certain newspapers in order to oppose the government from running any large-scale public opinion polls about homosexuality, including the study of whether the citizens support the government's revision of the relevant laws. The Society for Truth and Light, which is part of the campaign, said that the topic of homosexuality is still extremely controversial at present and the government should not legislate to punish citizens who disagree with homosexuality."
"I really cannot remember the exact wording. I have to check the records," Choi explained. "The Society for Truth and Light is only one member of the Alliance To Defend The Family. The Alliance says something but it does not mean that the Society for Truth and Light says the same." He began to babble. "You know that many people were involved in the signature campaign. Maybe our organization does not exactly agree with each and every word ..."
But the information showed that Choi Chi-sum was one of the founders of the Alliance To Defend The Family. "There were many people. I was one of the founders." But the registered address, telephone and email of the Alliance all belonged to the Society for Truth and Light. "They did not have the ability to get their own office." So what the Alliance says is not what the Society for Truth and Light says?" "It is not the same, but it is quite close." This means that you are so close that you have just slapped yourself in the face with the contradiction? "I can't remember. I will have to see what the exact wording says."
Should you wait for a public consensus on homosexuality before you oppose it? "You can also say that there is no public consensus on bestiality and incest, but we will also oppose that. This is about moral values!" We had been clearly discussing the legalization of homosexuality among adults, but he persisted in bundling this issue with the two criminalized activities of incest and bestiality. He was putting all three together into the frying wok of boiling oil and making the Fried Triple Delight special. "What is the domino effect? After homosexuality was legalized overseas, they are now fighting for the legalization of incest in Germany. In Holland, a political party is demanding the legalization of bestiality."
Choi Chi-sum admits that one may not have a choice in sexual preference. If the gays cannot help themselves, why should they be tormented by Choi Chi-sum? "Being unable to help yourself does not make the activities okay. If someone likes animals, then what? If someone wants to be permissive, then should we agree?" That was yet another serving of the Fried Triple Delight. Can you please look at the homosexuality problem independently? "I don't want to treat the problem too simply."
He also resorted to medical science and pointed out that anal intercourse may increase the risk of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. But lesbians do not run the risk. "As a matter of faith, I would oppose." Without indication, he has shifted from basing his argument on medical science to faith.
He was dissatisfied with the one-sided presentation on homosexuality in the television program <Comrade, Lover>. He advocates discussions from multiple angles. So why shouldn't programs that advocate heterosexuality give 50% of the time to a gay segment? "Heterosexuality is less controversial in society." But gays may feel that heterosexuality is very controversial. "That is why there is the mainstream!"
Since we have shifted the subject to the mainstream, I note that most people have masturbated before. Why won't you advocate that? "What the majority does is not necessarily right!"
He advocated the classification of the Chinese University Student Press and then taking legal action: "The Hong Kong ordinances classify publications into Category I, Category II, ... and whether they are suitable for persons under 18 to read. The law has its lines. This is not just the view of the Society for Truth and Light or myself." But when he is not supported by the law, he brushes the law aside. "You ask me whether I am opposed to the single-person brothel apartments (note: these are legal in Hong Kong), I oppose them. If you ask me whether I am opposed to legalized soccer gambling, I oppose them."
The reporter told him bluntly that he invokes medical science, faith, mainstream, law ... he has so many moral highpoints and he switches quickly between them that he can never lose an argument. "I am very consistent. It does not matter what the law says, I will say that it is wrong to be addicted to gambling. When society has to decide on legislation, I respect the majority opinion as the basis for the legislation. But from a moral angle, I have a consistent set of views. Even if prostitution is legalized, I will oppose it. I hope that you understand where I draw the line."
If we have to resort to faith, then Chapter 7, Verse 1 of The Gospel of Matthew is: "Do not judge, so as not to be judged." Choi had publicly criticized Stanley Ho for not observing monogamy. Does that make him a "judge"? "That reporter used a person for illustration. I could not do anything about that. I did not feel that rich people should have special privileges and four wives."
Two years ago, Ronald Arculli was still the chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Choi Chi-sum told him: "Congratulations, Mister Arculli. It is reported that you will be joining the Executive Council. The Jockey Club will be even more powerful as the government will collude with the Jockey Club to create hidden powers." (Apple Daily, June 17, 2005). "But I was just discussing the situation and the conflict of interests in his role. It is impossible to discuss a situation without discussing the person! Personal attacks refer to attacks on the character of the person, using smearing language ... I will not use words to attack Mister Arculli personally."
So as long as it is not a personal attack, you can attack anyone anytime. So is the issue about whether "judging" someone is really equivalent to "personal attack"? "You're going to have to consult an expert on the Bible."
The reporter consulted Alliance Church pastor Wong Hak-kun and he said that a "judge" is someone who judges or evaluates others. The Bible asks people not to judge others from a superior position but nothing was said about personal attacks. When the reporter went back to Choi with this feedback, he said to himself: "In summary, I stick to the principle that I will discuss the situation but not the person. My purpose is not to discuss individuals. I don't make personal attacks."
He came from a poor family and lived in the Lee Cheng Uk Estate for 20 years. He has two elder brothers and two younger sisters. The toilets and bathrooms there were all public facilities which were often frequented by peeping toms. But neither his mother nor his sisters had ever been victimized.
Other families could live in adjoining units with the walls broken down, but they could not. "It was obviously inconvenient to live in a small apartment." Have you ever espied the conjugal relationship between your parents, such that your views about sexuality are different from ordinary people as a result? "Hey, I don't want to discuss this ... I feel that the personal sex lives ... this involves my family members and I don't feel that I want to discuss these topics publicly."
Chapter 7, verse 2, The Gospel of Matthew: "For by the judgment that you judge, you shall be judged,
And by the measure that you measure, you shall be measured." Choi Chi-sum has no compunction about interfering or even prohibiting the sexual activities of others. So how come his own sex life is sacrosanct? "I've never named anyone!"
Stanley Ho, Ronald Arculli, Yau Ching, Jo Lee Wai-yee, Joseph Cho Man-kit, the chief editor of the Chinese University Student Press, the director and writer of <Comrade, Lover>, the director of <Autumn's Tale> ... each one of them was named and attacked by you. Besides, this reporter does not know the names of your parents and has never criticised them. "Anyone who knows me knows what my parents are like. I will not discuss my relatives. There is no need to inform the public. This is a matter of respect for people."
Can you also respect the lifestyles of gay people? "What is your definition of 'respect'? Their private sexual activities are permitted under Hong Kong law. But we do not necessarily target specifically named individuals."
Several hours after our meeting, Choi Chi-sum called and asked me to conceal the fact that he had mentioned Jo Lee Wai-yee, Joseph Cho Man-kit and Yau Ching. "I didn't want to bring up those names. You wanted me to tell you!" But you were concretely discussing those "people who advocate sexual liberation." How am I going to explain to my readers just who those people are? "If there is an opinion trend towards sexual liberation, then someone must be manufacturing those thoughts!"
Before the interview, this reporter promised to Choi Chi-sum that every critical section will end with his reply. I believe that I have done this in this report. But I am sorry to say that I cannot comply with this last additional request.