In a post entitled “Hate Speech, Racial and Religious Harmony”, Mr Pritam Singh, Sec-Gen of the Workers’ Party, revealed that in the coming week, a Ministerial statement titled “Restricting Hate Speech to maintain Racial and Religious Harmony” will be debated in Parliament.
He then goes on to say how the term “hate speech” is actually a “relatively new addition to the public discourse, both locally and internationally.”
He added that there is “no reference to it in the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (UN: 1965), a convention Singapore ratified in 2017.”
“The ambit of hate speech extends beyond the racial and religious. It can be directed – not only against racial or religious individuals and groups but persons or a groups on the basis of attributes such as ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
“Minister of Law, Mr K Shanmugam in comments to the media recently spoke about the upcoming debate as a platform for a new generation of Singaporeans to consider where they stand on issues of race, religion and hate speech, and where lines should be drawn.”
He then goes on to say that in late 1989, a “White Paper on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony (hyperlinked to this post) was tabled in Parliament” which he calls on Singaporeans to “please read it and consider the impact of new circumstances on our generation – terrorism, radicalization, social media, immigration, culture wars, amongst many others,” and how Singapore society should “deal with issues that ferment outright violence or create significant insecurity amongst communities here.”
He called upon readers to “share your thoughts and comments and I will try my best to accommodate your views in my speech which will seek to promote a reasoned centre where all of us focus on reducing temperatures and encouraging conversations with one another, amongst other points.”
This was what he quoted from the White Paper:
“Racial and Religious Harmony
Singaporeans belong to different races, languages and religions. All the great religions in the world are represented in Singapore – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and many denominations of Christianity. In such a context, religious and racial harmony are not just desirable ideals to be achieved, but essential conditions for our survival as one nation.
The Singapore state can only accommodate such totally different spiritual and moral beliefs among the population without being torn apart if it observes several stringent conditions. It must be a strictly secular state. The Government must claim ultimate political authority from the Constitution, and not from any divine or ecclesiastical sanction. A cardinal principle of Government policy must be the maintenance of religious harmony. The Government should not be antagonistic to the religious beliefs of the population, but must remain neutral in its relations with the different religious groups, not favouring any of them in preference to the others. Its duty is to ensure that every citizen is free to choose his own religion, and that no citizen, in exercising his religious or other rights, infringes upon the rights and sensitivities of other citizens.” White Paper (para 4-5)”
He also attributed it to this link of the Paper:
White Paper on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony – https://thir.st/wp-content/uploads/…/04/MRHA-white-paper.pdf