Dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (Apr 5) shot down Opposition MP Faisal Manap’s question after the latter asked why Singapore cannot emulate Australia and UK allowing women Muslim uniformed personnel to wear their religious headdress, tudung.
To this, Lee Hsien Loong responded saying the Parliament is not a place for non-serious discussion like this one and that the question asked is “divisive”:
“Parliament is the forum for serious discussion on important issues. This Parliament has not shied away from discussing difficult or contentious matters – last November we had a vigorous debate on changes to the Elected Presidency. However, some sensitive issues of race and religion have no easy or immediate solutions. The best way to make progress on them is quietly, outside the glare of publicity. Championing divisive issues publicly, to pressure the Government and win communal votes, will only stir up emotions and damage our multiracial harmony. In the debate on Aspirations Of Singapore Women, WP MP Faisal Manap brought up the tudung issue again. Minister Masagos Zulkifli challenged Mr Faisal and explained why this was unwise.”
PAP Minister Masagos Zulkifli joined in the bullying of the Workers’ Party (WP) MP by claiming that the Opposition supports ISIS:
“There is an old social media post by Mr Faisal, in which he posed for a photo during the Wear White campaign in 2014 with Zulfikar Shariff, who was arrested under the Internal Security Act last year for his support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It makes us wonder whether it is Mr Faisal who is supporting Mr Zulfikar or Mr Zulfikar supporting Mr Faisal, or are they together in this because of a common cause.”
Minister Masagos also attacked WP MP Faisal Manap’s past parliament questions saying that the Opposition is repeatedly playing the Malay race card:
“He used to raise in Parliament the need for halal kitchens in navy ships and the perceived discrimination against Malays in the armed forces. Is it his or his party’s position that these issues are the top concerns of the community? Mr Faisal’s approach needled the community’s sensitivity subtly and frequently. It leaves a lingering feeling of (something) unsolved and unsolvable, and impatience that one day I believe will explode. Is that what Mr Faisal wants?
Mr Faisal is not repentant or apologetic, and insists his strident approach is the correct way, although it puts Singapore’s racial harmony at risk. Mr Faisal’s practice of subtly and frequently bringing issues that are sensitive to the community, knowing they are not easy to resolve and cleverly turning it into a state versus religion issue. These are all very dangerous moves. I actually wonder whether the WP and its leadership are committed to the racial and religious harmony which underpins the security of this country. Do you want to go back to the politics of race and religion of the 1960s, the politics we wanted to avoid when we left Malaysia? If we don’t want that, why do we let a member constantly raise these issues to stir the community?”
However, Minister Masagos did not explain why the government continue to ban Muslim Singaporeans from joining high security clearance divisions in the military, air force and navy.