[UPDATED] Govt accountable in actions, has worked towards non-discrimination

20Aug09

Lee Kuan Yew makes a rare appearance in Parliament to “demolish” the heretical views of newly minted Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan. CNA, with video:

Speaking in Parliament – which he seldom does – Mr Lee explained that he did not intend to intervene in the parliamentary debate initially.

But having read what a Nominated Member of Parliament said in Parliament on Tuesday, he decided to speak up.

He said: “I think it was dangerous to allow such highfalutin ideas to go un-demolished and mislead Singapore.” Mr Lee took issue with the points the Nominated MP made, without naming the member.

The Nominated MP was Mr Viswa Sadasivan, who had called on Parliament to ensure that national policies be founded on the principles of the National Pledge such as racial and religious unity.

Mr Viswa had made several suggestions such as re-examining the current emphasis on racial categorisation and encouraging political associations to better reflect the tenets of the Pledge.

In fact, Mr Lee highlighted Singapore’s Constitution which provides for the minorities like the Malays.

He said: “We expressly stated in our Constitution, a duty on behalf of the government, not to treat everyone as equal. It’s not reality, it’s not practical. It will lead to grave and irreparable damage if we work on that principle. So, this was an aspiration.”

He said: “Our Constitution spells out the duties of the government to treat minorities and Malays with extra care. So the basis on which the Nominated Member has placed his arguments is false and flawed. It’s completely untrue. It has got no basis whatsoever.”

Alas, Lee fails to outline why treating citizens as equal would lead to “grave and irreparable damage”, and by singling out Viswa he will only succeed in drawing more attention to him.  Viswa’s entire speech is available here and The Online Citizen has a lively discussion.

UPDATE: The Straits Times has the full text of Lee’s comments.

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