Yesterday in Parliament (Nov 28), Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok SMC, Mr Murali Pillai gave three important lessons from the PAP Government’s approach to repealing Section 377A and amending the Constitution to preserve the institution of marriage.
First, this political accommodation by the PAP Government ensures stability and unity, even in issues that are as divisive as this, said Murali.
“So much of what we do as a country depends on our unity and stability. We cannot afford to lose that.”
He warned that Singapore should guard against identity politics with its emphasis on an all-or-nothing mindset; it is a threat to Singapore’s cohesive social compact.
Second, said Murali, it reflects the PAP Government’s acknowledgement of the changing realities of our time.
“This includes respecting the voices of all sections of society, including those of our youths, their voices on their vision and aspirations for Singapore.”
He pointed out that about two thirds of young adults in Singapore agreed that the repeal of a law criminalising gay sex represents a step towards a more inclusive society and three out of five of them support the importance of upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Forging an “intergenerational understanding” with these young people, who are the future of our country, will keep us together as a society, he added.
The last lesson gleaned from the PAP Government’s approach to Section 377A is the importance of upholding the legitimacy of our democratic system of government in Singapore.
The judiciary, being unelected, is not directly accountable to Singaporeans, said Mr Murali.
Using the example of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion, he said:
“Based on a September 2022 Pew Research Centre survey, Americans’ ratings of the Supreme Court are now as negative and more politically-polarised than at any point in time during the three decades of polling on the nation’s highest court. Such sentiments undermine the confidence in and the legitimacy of the judiciary. This in turn can affect the rule of law in Singapore.”
We must avoid this situation by making sure that issues with socio-political ramifications are dealt with in Parliament, by elected Parliamentarians, he added.
“As elected representatives, we have a much better pulse on what our people think and what is needed to ensure our nation’s cohesiveness. We also have a unique ability to accommodate divergent views and reach a consensus that allows our society to march on and make progress.”
Cover image credit: Jiachen Lin on Unsplash, MCI