Shanmugam on multi-racialism: don’t ignore other values

Regime leaders rarely pontificate about values from their ivory towers so naturally I was  literally stopped in my tracks when Law Minister Shanmugam touched on the subject. It turned out he was delighted with the online reaction  to a recent posting he made about a resident’s anti-Indian complaint. It shows that Singaporeans value multi-racilaism.

One of the things I take great pride in is our racial diversity and racial harmony. In fact, I always take the opportunity to point this out to people in other countries whenever I travel abroad. Another value that we cultivate and practise is cleanliness. Everywhere I travel to people tend to heap praise on this. And abashed I’d make tactful remarks like Hey, your country is just as clean.

At the same time they also ask me whether Singapore is a police state. And one young girl in the city of Jiujiang in Jiangxi province, who spoke passable English, asked me if it was true that Singaporeans were whipped for littering offences. 

In reply I’d ask them why they asked me such questions, and they invariably said Hey, I read in the newspapers and online media about Singapore’s repressive laws against demonstration, poor human rights record, a lack of press, civic and political freedoms.

All that is true I’d concede but no one is whipped for littering offences but is fined or has to carry out community service.

Hopefully, Ministers, in particular the quiet PM Lee, won’t regard values like democratic values I mentioned above as taboo and assiduously avoid speaking about them. On the social media such topics are the staple and any pretense that they are not being discussed is hypocritical.

Do we dare hope our quiet PM Lee will speak about democratic values in his forthcoming National Day Rally Speech? Or will it once again be empty promises and another going through the motions speech? 

Myanmar in a sense has put “progressive” Singapore to shame by lifting media censorship after 50 years.

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