Singapore Should Not Fall Prey To Demands To Be ‘Liberal’

I write to express my concerns over the content and themes of Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour.

Although Madonna’s concert organiser has agreed to comply with the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) terms of licence to not offend any race or religion, it has maintained that “Madonna will have the final say in how the show turns out”.

Historically, Madonna has consistently abused her artistic licence to stir political and religious controversy abroad, invoking lawsuits, and police and government concerns.

Licensing such performers undermines the fundamental values upon which our nation is built, such as that of safeguarding racial and religious harmony, public decency and building strong families. This is harmful to our society.

The exploitation of religious symbols and themes in provocative ways, such as the use of an adulterated cross as a stage, is disrespectful and wounds religious feelings. It grieves a community that appreciates that social cohesion rests on religious harmony and mutual respect.

I am particularly concerned about our youth and the bad example this sets. In my capacity as a humanitarian doctor, author and active speaker on several youth platforms, I was honoured to receive the Young Outstanding Singaporean Award. Society has given much to me and I consider it my responsibility to give back by inspiring our youth to be socially and morally conscious future leaders. This is why I am raising this matter.

The MDA has a responsibility to protect the delicate balance of Singapore’s multireligious, multiracial society and uphold values of respect and harmony. I am grateful for the times the MDA has withstood the pressures of those preferring more liberal approaches to censorship, and urge it to keep faith with the public by discharging its role with due consideration to our local mores.

We should not fall prey to demands by a vocal sector to be “liberal” and “progressive”, as many of us consider public indecency and blasphemy to be regressive. Singapore has received global admiration for our ability to maintain a prudent equilibrium in preserving our multireligious, multiracial society.

I urge the authorities to act with principled resolution to uphold those values cherished by many Singaporeans, which have been so critical to our past, and will be key to our continued success. Let us not compromise these values for the sake of entertainment that seeks to provoke and divide, rather than to uplift and unite.

This opinion by Tam Wai Jia was published in Voices, Today, on 25 Feb 2016.



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