Source: The Real Singapore
I refer to the TRS article "LOCAL MALAY UNHAPPY WITH THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MALAY IN THE SAF".
What does it mean by "pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality"?
When I was in BMT, my company had really outstanding malay muslim soldiers who were all-rounder and great leaders. They did well in their IPPT, SIT test and received great feedback from the peer appraisal. The best recruit being a Chinese could have been easily explained, but it was hard for me to understand why (for my platoon) only the Chinese and Indians made it to OCS and the Malays were all posted to SISPEC when they were clearly more outstanding than us in all aspect. I was disappointed but I couldn't care much because I was happy that I was in OCS.
Then, when i was in OCS, the thought came back to me again as i was indenting food for my company one day. During BMT, we had to always pay attention to how many non-muslims and how many muslims are there when we indent food. I looked around, there were no muslims in my company. There were some in other companies, but it definitely doesn't reflect the composition of our population. At that point of time I didn't think too much of it, because frankly as a Chinese, I don't really care because it's not me who's discriminated against.
When I was training in Air Force as a trainee, the thought came back to me again. At SAFTI, there was a muslim food corner. There wasn't any at the Air Force School. Again, I didn't really care but I was starting to feel disgusted at how we are discriminating our muslim friends. I had classmates in JC who shared that they were really disappointed that they couldn't pass the test to be a pilot. Some of them were told that they failed the test, some were told that they were rejected because they failed the security clearance.
There was once when the Chief of Air Force came for a visit to conduct a forum and we were told that we could ask him questions. Our instructors wanted to be sure that our questions were appropriate, so they requested that we had to submit our questions to them for vetting before they could be approved for asking.
I thought if I asked "why are there no muslim in the Air Force", it might be a little too harsh, so i rephrased a bit, it was "why are there so little muslims in the Air Force". The instructor read it and returned it back to me, saying that it was too sensitive and told me to ask something else. He said "we all know why. it's better not to ask ". So my question became "so what's next for RSAF". I never got to asked the CAF.
I went to another instructor with the same question, she was the strict and law-by-law kind, so i thought she could give me a proper explanation. Her reply was "what do you mean by there are no muslims? there is one pilot who is muslim. check your facts first before you say such things, you will get into trouble for saying things like that" Ok, so there is one muslim pilot in the entire Air Force, that just confirmed that there is discrimination.
Every time I recite the national pledge, I wonder why are we saying it when we don't even mean it. Regardless of race, language or religion? Based on justice and equality?
We have been extremely lucky that our muslim friends have been really tolerant and have not reacted badly to this issue, but who knows what might happen in the future? This is like a time bomb that may explode any time. If there are people who can "make mountains out of molehills" out of Purple Light and dirty ceilings, imagine the potential of this issue.
Ethnicity is poison. Let's just remove our ethnicity from our IC and just call ourselves Singaporeans.
By Anonymous (Scared of ISA)
Former Attorney-General Walter Woon. TODAY file photo
Society must accept compromise, learn to disagree without being disagreeable, says former AGC Walter Woon
AMIR HUSSAIN, TODAY
12 November 2013
12 November 2013
SINGAPORE — With more interest groups jostling for public space and a citizenry more inclined to challenge the Government, society will need “more rules, not fewer”, said former Attorney-General Walter Woon yesterday.
“You cannot expect, when you live with 7,400 people in the same kilometre, to have your way all the time. You must accept compromise, you must accept that, even if they (other people) do not agree with you, there has to be a form of adjudication ... uphold that rule of law ... learn to disagree without being disagreeable.”
Speaking in his personal capacity at a session of the Institute of Policy Studies’ Conference on Civil Society at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel yesterday, Professor Woon, who is a National University of Singapore law professor, cited four factors that will lead to greater interaction between the various interest groups and the Government, as well as among the groups themselves.
He pointed out that with 7,405 people per square kilometre, Singapore is “the most crowded society in human history” with no “pressure-release valve”, which other countries with a countryside possess.
The population density is expected to increase to 10,000 people per square kilometre by 2030, the former Nominated Member of Parliament added.
Secondly, it will be “inevitable” that “different interest groups will increasingly find themselves in competition for public space, in opposition to Government, in opposition, in fact, to other interest groups”.
Technology, meanwhile, also facilitates the creation of interest groups, he told the conference. “The existence of the Internet allows the lone wolf to join the pack. And the pack then also (fights) for that public space.”
Fourthly, as a result of rising education levels, people will “have a perspective that there are things that can be done better”, Prof Woon said.
In the past, he noted, the Government’s approach to clashes with interest groups had been to wield “the iron hand in iron glove”, and to say “we will make the decisions”.
However, it can no longer do this, as “it is quite clear that the electorate is now willing to vote against the Government”.
Prof Woon noted that, anecdotally, there have been more challenges to the Government in the courts within the last five years than in the past 30 to 40 years, such as the two constitutional challenges to Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between males.
Speaking at a dialogue session later, Law Minister K Shanmugam said the Government has to work with civil society. He described the relationship between the two sides as one that is “by and large ... working quite well”.
However, Mr Shanmugam acknowledged that not every engagement between civil servants and civil society results in a positive experience, adding that “there are areas where, maybe, agencies have been less than forthcoming”.
“My own belief is that civil servants believe, like us, in engagement, but when the rubber hits the road in terms of specific proposals, in terms of specific meetings, in terms of specific agencies, there can be a difference in perception and one can be wrong ... both sides can be wrong,” he said.
Citing the Government’s work with animal welfare groups as an example, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore cannot be governed without the active participation of people and civil society in today’s modern and complex economic and civil situation.
He said: “If you ask (the animal welfare groups) today, look at what was accomplished in the last two years. At their suggestion, the government formed the animal welfare law reform group — they came up with fairly revolutionary set of suggestions, very, very substantive suggestions. The government accepted all of them this year.”