Walid J. Abdullah: Singapore Must Foster A Culture Of Intolerance Towards Intolerance

Of the recent speeches by our politicians, two in particular stood out for me.

First was the one given by Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, in which he said Singaporeans must be tolerant, and the only thing we should be intolerant towards is intolerance.

This is most definitely a welcomed speech; the idea of accepting and tolerating different viewpoints is wonderful. (of course, intolerance needs to be defined properly first.)

In this spirit, i hope more politically diverse opinions will be tolerated. I hope the media will give more coverage to different viewpoints. I hope serious discussions will take place on important issues: for example, the discourse on terrorism has been heavily skewed towards religious ideologies. While religious ideology is undoubtedly a factor, almost every major and serious research on terrorism states that other factors (foreign policy, socio-political conditions, loss of trust in authority etc) matter in radicalization too. Therefore, we must be tolerant of different viewpoints and discuss these issues openly and honestly. I further hope those with different standpoints will be met with reasoned argumentation, rather than the full force of the law.

I truly hope, that we are indeed intolerant towards intolerance; whether it is religious or political.

The second was by WP’s Leon Perrera, where he argued for a culture of diversity of opinions. Again, this would be a fantastic thing to have in our society. I hope WP will put its money where its mouth is: in the last parliament, there were occasions in which WP refused to take a stand on some issues or just ignored discourses that were going on in society, perhaps to not offend anyone and reach out to the median voter. I fail to see how keeping silent in important moments contributes to creating this culture.

Hopefully, WP will truly exemplify the culture of diversity, not only by taking a stance on important matters, but by allowing its own members to take different positions on issues.

If one is familiar with parliamentary speeches throughout the world, one would notice that they are often filled with grandiose plans and bombastic words, but unfortunately, with little outcome. One can only hope, that is not the case with these two promising speeches.


Source: Walid J. Abdullah

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