The ongoing debate on the changes to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act have thrown up more questions than answers. While the govt think they are seen as doing the right thing by making all the right noises, such as people will be severly dealt with if they so much as make offensive statement on religion online, what people see is that this is another line of govt controlling social media.
The real question is can religion ever be separated from politics, just as Faisal Manap said. While he was blasted by that holier than thou Minister Shanmugam, he has a valid point. Snide remarks by Shanmugam to belittle his political opponent aside, can Shanmugam honestly say that Ministers and high ranking Civil Servants’ religious upbringing have no bearings on their daily lives, or in how they react to policies and how they go about getting the policies out?
The govt was quick to slam Faisal, even insinuating he was threading dangerous waters if he cannot separate religion and politics. But consider this. During the last GE, PM Lee himself was very visible in having a religuous leader with him. The man in question was Mr Tan Thiam Lye, a vice-president on the IRO council and from the Taoist Federation. Does the govt then forget the religion separate from politics if a respected member of a religious group appear openly to canvass support for a politician?
And of course, every time a major policy comes up, the media, with promptings from the ivory tower no doubt, will be quick to get quotes from religious leaders and get their support for any govt led projects. Again, religion separate from politics? And the best part is, who appoints the MUIS leaders and the Mufti himself? Isn’t that the govt? And oh yeah, Muslims have a Minister who is in charge of Muslim affairs. Religion separate from politics, really?
It is only religion must be separate from politics if it is not favourable to the govt. But if the govt do it themselves, then it is fine. Shanmugam said at the end of his Faisal bashing session that “Mr Faisal has introduced a new element in that process today. I think that is something for him and others around him to think about”. We say it is Shanmugam and his holy Ministers who should think about their holy conduct.
#MuslimsunderrepresentedinSingapore #FaisalManapIsRight #WPFightsForMuslims