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June 20, 2017

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Heated Dispute On Reducing Religious Fundamentalism: Safety Over Human Rights?

June 20, 2017

With continuous bipolarity in the parliament, are our leaders getting anywhere close to resolving the terrible consequences of religious fundamentalism? The resolution, that was introduced in the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS), thus far aims to curtail our already limited civil liberties to an even further extent through plans to restrict citizens’ freedom of speech. The MPs also introduced measures, such as the educating of the public through their religious leaders and institutions, that had previously already been proven to be a failure on multiple instances. The biggest ongoing dispute, however, is on the issue of having a Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG).


Delocalised or localised? That’s the pressing issue of concern when it comes to the setting up of the RRG. The primeval cause of this debate is the difference in perspectives within the parliament. Some representatives like Mr Ong Ye Kung believe that Islam is a problematic religion in our current times. Mr Ong even quoted the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s conversation with then US Secretary Clinton, stating that, “Islam is a venomous religion “. His views, however, are in direct contrast with the views of others such as RADM Lai, who believes that other religions need to be monitored to ensure that no one religion is singled out and put in a negative light, as this would send the wrong message to the people of Singapore. Some believe that an individual RRG should be set up for each religion, while others such as Mr Ong Ye Kung want one centralised RRG, as resources would be wasted on redundant RRGs for religions such as Christianity and Buddhism that have not been the cause of terror in recent times. Should we sacrifice moral principles for the efficient allocation of our resources? Another key issue of concern is the ambiguity and lack of elaboration of the clauses within the resolution, especially on points regarding education and online communication barriers.


After hours of redundant and unproductive discourse, the MPs concluded the committee session with the opening speeches of their next topic within the discussion - racial profiling. The parliament faced pin drop silence when the controversial Mr Ong Ye Kung, who previously suggested fake terrorism at Oxley Road and undercover infiltration into mosques and madrasas to spy on Islamic teachings, called for genocide and mass deportation of members of the Chinese race - the majority race in Singapore. However, the general course of debate leaned towards partial racial profiling, so as to not harm the feelings of certain religious groups, in this case Malays ( who form the majority group practising Islam ) in alignment with our constitutional beliefs. How will this argument unfold? We shall see in the next committee session at 1 Parliament PI.


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