My response to the ST article: “Process, pluralism, protection”

May 4, 2009 by · 7 Comments
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Written by Ng E-Jay
04 May 2009

Janadas Devan’s Straits Times article “Process, pluralism, protection” published on 04 May was generally a well-written one, but I disagree with the points he raised in the last section of the article labeled “OB markers matter“.

In this section of the article, Mr Devan argues that the AWARE saga shows why “illiberal laws” such as the Religious Harmony Act, Group Representation Constituencies, and HDB racial quotas, are needed. His reasoning is that these laws are needed to maintain racial and religious harmony. Citing examples such as the death threats directed at Ms Josie Lau, and the inflammatory remarks made by Mr Derek Hong from the Church of Our Saviour, who was seen as calling for a religious body to interfere with the affairs of a secular organization, Mr Devan says this proves “we still have some work left to do” as far as social harmony goes.

While I agree with Mr Devan’s point that the faithful of any religion should not try to impose their views on others, nor should they organise themselves in groups to pursue secular agendas, he appears to be torturing the issue.

Firstly, bringing Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) into the discussion is disingenuous. Contrary to PAP propaganda, GRCs are not instituted to promote racial harmony by providing for adequate representation of minority races in Parliament. They are instituted to make it more difficult for Opposition parties to win seats in Parliament. Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam won his Anson seat in 1981 without the need for GRCs, in an era when support for the ruling PAP was far higher. If JBJ could do it, so can other good Malay and Indian candidates, contrary to what the PAP would have us believe.

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