Raeesah Khan wants a more progressive Islam in S'pore - and she wants the Govt to step in

Aug 10, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

In Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 3), Worker’s Party Raeesah Khan spoke about gender equality challenges in Singapore, more specifically, the treatment of Muslim women in Islam.

She focused on the following areas: sexuality education, sexual violence, female genital cutting (FGC), polygamy and hijab. You can read her full speech here.

Raeesah's speech has spurred conversations on the issues raised, albeit in a context that does her a disservice to her credibility as a Parliamentarian.

She received flak from netizens for raising an allegation without substantiating it with facts, and caused an online rift between Muslim netizens who are divided on the opinion of FGC and polygamy in Singapore.

Raising Muslim issues in an open secular setting adds to the bad perception of Islam by non-Muslims

The subject of FGC raised by Raeesah carries with it the negative connotation that the Singaporean Malay Muslim community is mutilating female genitalia in the same way that is practised in African states - gore and all.

The non-Muslim laymen may understandably feel outrage upon learning of FGM but what was not elaborated by Raeesah is that female circumcision in Singapore is not carried out in the same extremities as those in Africa.

On the topic of polygamy, Raeesah's speech may make the non-Muslim laymen think that marrying multiple wives is rampant in Singapore's Muslim community.

Raeesah's point was given more context by PAP's Rahayu Mahzam who clarified in parliament that the percentage of polygamy marriages in Singapore has dropped from 0.4% in 2010 to 0.07%.

Parliament not the right platform to discuss Muslim issues

Singapore is unique in a sense that we have an appointed Minister appointed specifically to oversee policies and issues related to the Muslim community here.

Singapore's approach to dealing with sensitive Muslim issues like the wearing of the tudung, or headscarf is to discuss them behind closed doors as open discussion may lead to serious ramifications and have an impact on religious harmony.

By tabling topics like female circumcision and polygamy in a secular and open platform like the Parliament, Raeesah is suggesting that the State should make an even-handed approach to a policy decision from a secular lens and not one based on religious grounding.

If the Government does so, it sets a precedence for other religious groups to pursue their wants and needs in parliament.

An open-discussion on religion in parliament also involves all stakeholders to chip in, including, for example, non-Muslims who may not understand the underlying context of certain Islamic functions and customs to make an educated and objective opinion on the subject matter. This can lead to disharmony and disunity.

The ultimate loser in the end will be the religion itself.

S'pore firm develops first Omicron-specific testing kit

Dec 06, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership
Home-grown biotechnology firm BioAcumen Global has launched Singapore's first Omicron-specific Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit.

This means that a person taking the test will receive one of three results: Covid-19 positive and Omicron positive; Covid-19 positive and Omicron negative; or Covid-19 and Omicron negative.

Currently, PCR kits here that are capable of detecting Omicron require an additional gene sequencing step to confirm the specific variant. This takes an additional day.

Some PCR kits, such as those currently in use by medical technology firm Acumen Diagnostics and biotech firm MiRXES, are able to detect both the Delta and the Omicron strains, but to confirm if a positive case has been infected by Omicron, gene sequencing is necessary.

Mr Jimmy Toh, director of BioAcumen Global, said: "We are looking at ways to cut down the steps and time needed to run this test. This is crucial, especially at the borders where accurate tests need to be done on-site. There is no time to wait on sequencing results to know if a positive sample is infected with Omicron."

Mass production of the kit has begun, and the BioAcumen Global team hopes this kit will provide much needed help locally and in the region for the surveillance and control of this new variant, Mr Toh said.