Singapore— Workers’ Party chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh said, “There is no place for racism in Singapore”, in a brief response to a speech by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Tuesday (May 11).
In the wake of a hate crime last Friday (May 7) when a 55-year-old Singaporean-Indian woman was kicked in the chest and called racial slurs, racism and xenophobia were discussed in Parliament.
Mr Shanmugam is quoted by CNA as saying: “If we go down this route, eventually all Indians can be a target of hate.”
He then invited “all here to condemn” racism.
Mr Singh responded to the minister, referring to a statement issued by Workers’ Party MP and media team head Leon Perera on Monday (May 10).
The statement deploring the hate crime said: “It is important that as a society we each do our part to help make sure the difficult times bring out the best and not the worst in Singapore.
“We should take heed of incidents like this as it is a reminder of the part we all play to deny acceptability ability to acts of hate such as this appears to be.”
The statement was issued in response to the news that police were investigating the attack on the Indian Singaporean woman.
Mr Singh then added that the Workers’ Party is in agreement with Mr Shanmugam’s statement about such acts in Singapore. “There is no place for racism in Singapore. No ifs. No buts.”
The minister had warned that Singapore would fail should such harmful actions and attitudes be allowed to flourish. He also added that Indians in Singapore could be targeted for hateful acts.
Mr Shanmugam added that any MP who believes that CECA (the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) is the source of the problem may put up a motion for debate.
Specifically addressing Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai of the Progress Singapore Party, Mr Shanmugam said: “I am looking at you, Mr Leong. I invite you to put up a motion to debate CECA. You know that most of what is said about CECA is false.
“I hope responsible opposition parties will take a stand on this, notwithstanding that many of these sites that promote xenophobia support you,” he added.
The NCMP later clarified that neither he nor the PSP is xenophobic, but “We are just stating the economic effects (that) some of these free trade agreements have had on our economy.”
Mr Leong added that he plans to take up the minister’s challenge to a debate at “an appropriate time in the future”.
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