The government of Singapore has shut the offices of the Christian Conference of Asia, charging that the ecumenical organization has broken a 1974 agreement not to indulge in political activities.
In a Dec. 30 announcement, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the conference "has used Singapore as a base to support liberation movements in Asia and has funded procommunist movements." The government agency also charged that the conference has "promoted radical political movements and liberation theology" and "provided covert support for radical activists in Singapore.
The Christian Conference of Asia is related to the World Council of Churches and is roughly analogous to the National Council of Churches in the United States, but on a wider, regional basis. It is made up of 15 national councils and 95 member churches in 17 countries in the Asian Pacific region. It receives some financial support from churches in the United States.
The Singapore government called upon all expatriate staff of the organization to leave the country by Monday. According to church sources in the United States, conference officials will move to another country but have requested a 30-day extension from the Singapore government. No decision has yet been made about where the officials will move.
Last spring the government of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew arrested 10 Roman Catholics -- four full-time church workers and six volunteers -- and charged them with participation in an alleged Marxist plot to overthrow the government. After the arrests, Archbishop Gregory Yong suspended four priests who had worked with the 10 Catholics.
Among the charges listed by the government was conference support for the Jurong Industrial Mission, an agency that aided and organized urban workers. The agency has been in existence since 1969.
The government also charged that member councils of churches protested recent arrests of what the government termed Marxist conspirators. Sources knowledgeable about the conference said conference workers denied that such a protest was made.