Vote of no confidence in Pritam Singh
This petition is in response to Day 2 of the Committee of Supply 2021 debate, when Workers’ Party’s Pritam Singh exhorted the Government to act against far-right extremism, highlighting the risk of bias towards any religious belief and the need for national policies to remain strictly secular.
We seek to establish the following 3 principles underscoring this petition:
- extremism can well up from any beliefs, be it religious or secular
- identity politics is a deeply divisive political tool to be execrated and discarded in our society
- meritocracy as the superior standard of policymaking
A quick look into history of the 20th century yields 2 secular extremist ideologies – namely socialism as a precursor to the communist State, and fascism. Both are purely secular in nature and when taken root, gave rise to murderous regimes like the USSR, Maoist China, Nazi Germany and Pol Pot in Cambodia. In other words, the 1900s can be said to witness the deaths of more than 120 million souls at the sacrificial altar of socialism and fascism, all in the name of utopianism and progressivism.
More recent failures of socialism include Venezuela where the socialist party under Hugo Chavez ran a prosperous nation into the ground in less than a decade. Brazil under Lula’s Workers’ Party also ran into the pits. Yet a look at our Workers' Party manifesto reveals a similar guiding principle to Chavez's and Lula's - socialism.
As a religious person, I acknowledge that religious ideologies may be misconstrued to the extreme. However, could Pritam Singh also acknowledge that secular ideals can be taken to the extreme? Who then is going to serve as a check and balance to such secular extremist tendencies? In my opinion, Pritam Singh, when not measuring oneself with the measure he used against others, is practicing double standards. It is not good that the Leader of the Opposition is perceived to be practicing hypocrisy.
Pritam Singh voiced out his concerns and I quote, “Is there a danger in Singapore that laws and policies could be tilted towards particular religious beliefs – for example, because of the dominant religious beliefs of senior civil servants or people of influence? If not now, maybe some time in the future?”
By this same standard, isn’t there also a danger that laws and policies could be tilted towards a particular political ideology? Whether religious or secular beliefs, it all forms a part of who we are as persons. People ought to be free to argue for the merits of their ideology and not be discriminated for their beliefs. Only then can we have a sense of the common morality to make laws and policies from. By branding individuals into their ideological categories and judging them based on their convictions rather than their deeds reeks of identity politics.
Identity politics is the death of individualism, for the individual does not have to be held accountable for his or her actions. What matters is joining the “virtuous side” of the struggle. Such a narrative naively divides our society into vacuous categories and promote the degeneration of civil discourse between sides. Why seek to understand anyone who are “evil” and act against my virtuous beliefs and allegiance?
This is contrary to Singapore’s success model of meritocracy, which judges and holds accountable an individual by his or her deeds. Therefore, whether religious or secular, every individual can contribute to sound policymaking. In fact, religion in its respective forms and ideology provides a transcendental and objective reference for morality which secularism can never hope to espouse.
To conclude this petition, we the underwritten signatories are
- Casting a vote of no confidence in Pritam Singh as the Leader of the Opposition, for his potential failure to neglect the cause of any other ideology that is not in keeping with his own
- Calling the Singapore government to safeguard the expressions of free speech for all –religious or otherwise
- Cancelling identity politics