Saturday, 23 September 2023

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A referendum for 377A Repeal

by Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

We are told that repeal of Section 377A of the Penal code has the potential to divide Singapore and split us into 2 irreconcilable camps.

However keeping it unchanged is deemed a violation of the rights of a not insignificant percentage of Singaporeans. Repealing it, unfortunately, would offend conservative citizens who claim guidance from their ancient scriptures.

It was not too long ago when women could not vote and humans of colour had to make themselves invisible and use separate toilets, buses and their children attend inferior schools all in the name of these same conservative values.

These societal crossroads are now in the distant past.

And yet we are told and many believe that Singaporeans are mainly conservative and demand that the 377A remains on the legal statutes.

Is this even true? Has there been any real poll to confirm this?

Or is this potentially fake news?

There is one simple way to know if Singaporeans want to retain 377A as it is.

I suggest that the Singapore government carries out a referendum or plebiscite to decide what Singaporeans want to do about 377A. This should be a non-binding vote carried out according to similar rules familiar to the Department of Elections ( eg compulsory etc) .

If the vote for pro-repeal wins or is close eg less than 10% difference then Parliament would be deemed to have the moral duty to do more than sit on its hands ( and tweedle its thumbs) and should start work on amending or repealing 377A.

However, it the vote is decisively for retention, then the repeal camp must agree not to have any referendum till at least 10 years later. This allows the government of the day to carry out its mandate for the majority without upsetting the status quo..

If the government is not ready to take this risk, then a respectable NGO, or even the Workers’ Party ( which has been neutral on this) can take up the mettle on Singapore’s behalf.

I know there will some who argue against this as an example of “Ruling by Referendum” but don’t Singaporeans want to know how middle Singapore feels about this? I sure do!

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