Mr Bilahari’s views on local politicians aside, his lectures on international affairs read like a primer with a realist slant. More significantly, the average Singaporean might do well to understand that this same realist perspective informs foreign policy decision making in Singapore’s MFA, and in the higher echelons of the Singapore government, especially considering how consistent the Singapore government’s foreign policy stance has been between senior leaders (read Lee Kuan Yew’s book on Hard Truths and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s interview with TIME). Understanding Mr Bilahari’s lectures gives insights into the mind of the MFA diplomat, and for those who seek to challenge his views, provides a foundation on how to approach foreign policy debates from a Singaporean point of view.
We can deduce that the two camps are not going to compromise anytime soon, but what does this mean for Singaporeans? It means that first, we will be seeing movements and counter-movements from both LGBTIQ and conservative communities for some years to come; second, Singapore will come under intense media scrutiny, particularly from an international media that is sympathetic to LGBTIQ causes; and third, Singaporeans will have to live with the messy debates, name-calling and polarised politics that have come to characterise similar LGBTIQ movements in other countries.
Singlish holds a special place in the hearts of most Singaporeans. The off-grammar creole is spoken almost exclusively by inhabitants of our small island-nation and very often prompts strong emotional responses from people when it is challenged or belittled. It is also a source of comfort, according to some, especially when stuck in a foreign land where the only thing you miss most is the sights and sounds of a far away home.
However in a strange turn of events, the focus of the fiercest debates has shone not so much on the merits or demerits of the use of the death penalty in Kho Jabing’s case. The bulk of public interest now seems centred on toxic accusations which have been flung against the lawyers and activists backing Kho Jabing and family, accusing them of delaying the inevitable and putting the family of Kho through unnecessary emotional torture.
Ironically, headlines like these prompted even more questions from netizens about the laws governing minors involved in serious offences – to what extent are minors protected under the laws of Singapore when they are suspected of criminal offences? Should they or should they not be accompanied by an appropriate adult, and who would be considered an “appropriate” adult anyway? More contentiously, should or could schools and parents be given the right to refuse to comply with police directives, and would it be a crime to do so?
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