The Latin phrase In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas is sometimes translated as In important matters unity, in uncertain matters liberty and diversity, in all matters love and charity.
Earlier this week, the PAP voted in one united voice, to repeal 377A and to strengthen the institution of marriage. This, our Party firmly believes, is a step towards becoming a fairer, a more just and equitable society, while strengthening the family centric cords upon which our social fabric is weaved.
A change like this is never an event but a process, years in the making. Over several years, the PAP government patiently and deliberately engaged Singaporeans from all creeds and walks of life on this sensitive and socially divisive issue, and listened to all concerns and viewpoints from all stakeholders.
Internally within our Party, we had also to wrestle with a diversity of viewpoints, with varying strengths and to varying degrees.
Internal disagreements and a diversity of viewpoints is to be expected within a big tent political Party whose duty is to represent and act on behalf of ALL Singaporeans regardless of race language religion.
Our responsibility as the governing party is to provide strong and clear political leadership that unites Singaporeans in spite of our differences in cultures, beliefs and values. And, as always, make the difficult but right decisions when the moment arrives.
Taking a united position and presenting a united front on important divisive issues is difficult and painful because it almost always calls for some form of sacrifice or compromise. Members who disagree or hold differing views have to set aside their personal beliefs and agree to commit to a larger cause. Our leaders must rally the support and commitment of those who hold opposing views and direct them towards a higher purpose.
Why then did the PAP vote in unison amidst differences in beliefs, values and opinions amongst members?
It is because as a Party, we believe wholeheartedly that the repeal of 377A and strengthening the institution of marriage are matters important enough to Singaporeans for all Party MPs to unite and stand behind.
Further, if we do not make these changes in parliament now, we will be leaving it to the courts to decide for society whether or not S377a is unconstitutional. If we do not have a unified Party position to carry through these legislation amendments, we are abdicating our responsibilities as elected representatives of the people. This is an act of irresponsibility which we cannot accept.
There is however, one matter which we all would agree on and accept: that Love and Charity must, and will, increasingly become a greater part of our Singapore identity. In the passing of these Bills, Singapore will become a better, more compassionate and a fairer place for all who call Singapore our home.