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OP-ED: Don't compromise public service for the needs and wants of religion

Apr 01, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

I am surprised to see that the Government is considering allowing nurses to wear the tudung at work as announced by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam last week.

One's religious belief is his or her personal freedom to practice, as is religious dressing. What religion one wants to believe in and what clothes one wants to wear are their own prerogative.

However, personal rights also comes with it certain boundaries that needs to be respected in certain circumstances and in this case, setting.

The exercise of an individual's private rights should not come at the expense of forgoing the requirements of public service.

That is the reality.

Any company or industry, be it a private or public, comes with it their own set of regulations and standards.

For the uniformed public service like healthcare, it is a requirement for frontline workers to be in - well, uniforms.

If one wants to practice their religious belief, it should be done in their private space. That freedom is guaranteed in Singapore. But when it comes to public service, certain compromises have to be made. If compromise is out of the question, then your desire to choose to work in public service have to be reconsidered.

We need to be firm. The exercise of a person's religious or cultural needs should not extend or infringe upon the boundaries of public service.

It is up to one's personal freedom and right to wear whatever he or she wants when not at work - as long as it does not violate public order.

At the workplace, however, the person should respect the governing laws and regulations of their worplace or industry.

For example, when entering a construction site, one is obligated to wear a safety helmet; when entering the biological laboratory, one should change into protective gear; and when entering a maritime place, one should wear a life jacket.

Summarily, work is work, and individualism is individualism, which means the boundary shall be maintained between what you practice in private and what is expected of you at work.

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.