OP-ED: Concerns about changing the government policy of religious symbols and attire

Apr 01, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

I am concerned that there may be a policy change in the government's position on nurses wearing tudung. Any policy change related to religious symbols must be carefully considered and should not be taken lightly.

It is necessary for us to protect the common space in society. If different religious organizations do not reach a consensus first, adding conspicuous religious symbols to the common space may put pressure on Singapore's social order.

If the government changes the policy of nurses wearing tudung now, will it make more concessions in the future?

If tudung is also allowed in our general school system and uniform groups, where is the bottom line?

My concern is that other religious groups may be susceptible to a resurgence and claim for the right to wear their own religious accessories accordingly or ask for compromises in other aspects. They may even demonstrate stronger reactions if they deem it a part of escalated Islamization of Singapore.

The government must show that it treats all religions equally in order to avoid disturbing the existing harmony.

Otherwise, it may allow others to take advantage of this action to push their own positions on other controversial issues.

It is not difficult to think of examples such as abolishing Article 377A of the Criminal Code and legalizing same-sex marriage.

If Singaporeans are not ready to face such changes and discussions in a short time, the result may be the emergence of a politicized and divided Singapore.

PSP's Tan Cheng Bock voted out as Sec-Gen after alleged party infighting

Apr 01, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Former Republic of Singapore Air Force colonel Francis Yuen has been appointed secretary-general of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), taking over from party founder Tan Cheng Bock.

Dr Tan, 80, has become party chairman. This was announced by the PSP on Thursday (April 1), after its central executive committee (CEC) met on Wednesday.

In a Facebook post, PSP Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said Mr Yuen was the committee's unanimous choice to "lead PSP to the next level".

"Francis will lead and galvanise the party while (Dr Tan) concentrates on strengthening external support for PSP," he wrote.

Chairman role is basically a glorified flower pot

In many organisations around the world, the Secretary-General position has the authority to make all the decisions of running the organisation - or party. The Chairman generally does not have any more power pe se than any other voting member of the Executive Committee, except the power to run board meetings.

Comparatively, the Secretary-General is like the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

For example, the People's Action Party chairman is Gan Kim Yong while the Secretary-General is Lee Hsien Loong.

Party infighting?

The change comes amid reports of a rift in the party. An online news site, the RedWire Times, said in March that some party cadres have demanded for Dr Tan to step down as secretary-general, and allow for "more talented rising stars" to take over.

Commenting on the Redwire Times report, PSP member Kumaran Pillai said the new CEC line-up is in no way a reflection of any disagreement over the leadership of the party. Rather, Mr Yuen assuming the secretary-general role is part of a planned transition, he added.

“When Dr Tan started the party, he said he will mentor someone younger, and he hasn’t deviated from his original mission. People shouldn’t be reading too much into it.”

Mr Pillai added that he had a long dialogue with the party cadre who was quoted anonymously by Redwire Times as saying that some cadres are mustering support to demand for Dr Tan to step down from his post.

“His intention is not to stage a coup within the party. I think people have misinterpreted it and misunderstood what he said, sometimes it's like playing broken telephone, you say one thing and by the time you get to the last person, the whole story gets distorted along the way... there’s no infighting, there's no malice,” he said.

In other words, the flower pot needs watering.