"Human rights has become a ‘religion’ that breeds devotees who border on the fanatic", says Attorney General Walter Woon.
"Such a dismissal of sincerely-held views... is not helpful to engagement between a government and its citizens", replies Maruah's Siew Kum Hong. AWARE's president Constance Singam says, "‘Fanatics’... are often exactly what our society needs."

Human Rights activists – a bunch of ‘fanatics’?

The following are extracts of Attorney General Walter Woon’s speech at a Law Society gathering last Thursday where he touched on the topic of human rights. The event was to mark the launch of the Law Society’s Public and International Law Committee.

The extracts are culled from reports by the Straits Times and TODAY.

Human rights has become a ‘religion’ that breeds devotees who border on the fanatic.


It would be ‘hypocrisy’ for such people to decide what is acceptable for the rest of society.


We have to be careful when we talk about public law, and not to confuse law with politics. There are many people who think if a decision is made and they don’t like it, then this is something the law can correct. There is a line between a political decision and a legal decision.


You have, like in some religions, the fanatics. And it’s all hypocrisy and fanaticism (for these people) to set the views, as the leading spokesmen, of what is acceptable and what’s not.


What we are against is the assumption of some people that when they define what’s human rights, that decision is the decision of the rest of humanity.


Below are the letters from Maruah (Singapore Working Committee for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism), AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) and the subsequent replies from Attorney General Walter Woon.

Maruah (Siew Kun Hong) – Keep Our Door Open To Ideas

AWARE (Constance Singam) – Human-Rights ‘Fanatics’ Is What Singapore Needs.

Walter Woon (reply to Maruah) – No One Solution.

Walter Woon (reply to AWARE) – Human Rights Key To Good Governance But…

Read the exchanges and share your views on the issues.