The delegates started with their opening speeches, where they highlighted their stances and solutions on the strengthening of the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, the General Speaking List commenced.
Mr Goh Meng Seng started off the debate on the topic of transparency by suggesting the implementation of guidelines, while Mr Pritam Singh argued that it would be troublesome to get information to increase transparency.
The issue of religious tolerance versus religious acceptance was brought up by the Hindu Advisory Board, while the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore asked the council to see through the eyes the government. The delegation wanted the council to understand that the goals of the legislation is aligned with the council’s.
An unmoderated caucus was later proposed to discuss the scope of the debate. All the delegates gathered around a table to deliberate what issues should be debated on later for a productive discourse. The order of issues that they would be discussing is as follows.
1. Defining racial harmony
3. Religious speech versus Hate/Political speech
4. Countering internal and external threats to racial harmony
5. Checks and balance of ministers
During the General Speakers’ List, the Inter-Religious organisation pushed the point on acceptance of religions than tolerance. Afterwards, a moderated caucus to define racial harmony and the difference
between hate and religious speech was introduced.
The difference between hate and religious speech was discussed thoroughly.
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan wanted to focus on the disruption hate speeches could cause. However, Mr Chee Soon Juan saw no point in it. Ms Pritam Singh then initiated a moderated caucus to find solutions to prevent hate speech.
After a brief detour on the topic of transparency, the debate was brought back on track by Ms Sim Ann.
Soon after, Mr Chee Soon Juan brought up the point that there was no effective way of removing hate speech as everybody has different opinions and views.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said that religious leaders should step up due to their influence over the people following the faith. Ms Yeoh brought up the fact that understanding and accepting different religions is important to stop hate speech.
After returning to the General Speakers’ List, Majlis Ugama Islam refused to give one person VETO power. To rebut his point, the Inter-Religious organisation showed the council how VETO power might help religious leaders to come forward.