Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding the webinar, which is scheduled for this Sunday evening (Nov 1) that was originally supposed to have Professor George as well as fellow academic Donald Low, the authors of a book published last week entitled “PAP vs PAP: The Party’s struggle to adapt to a changing Singapore,” as speakers.
Mr Yee wrote: “This sort of un-invite has to stop. We need more openness in society to listen to diverse views”.
Without explanation, the lineup of speakers was abruptly changed to Al Ramirez Dizon, a former journalist with Singapore Press Holdings, Shobha Avadhani, a lecturer in New Media from NUS, and Arun Mahizhnan, a special research adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies.
Professor Cherian George, one of the speakers who was abruptly replaced for a webinar titled “Public Discourse Truth & Trust” organized by Raffles Hall Association, said that he had been informed by the organizer last Friday (Oct 23) that the National University of Singapore (NUS) had wanted to cancel the event, according to a report from Yahoo News.
In his Facebook post on Thursday (Oct 29), Mr Yee shared an extract from his soon-to-be-published book, ‘Journey In Blue’ on the topic of political education.
Mr Yee wrote: “In my first speech in Parliament, I spoke extensively about reforms needed to our education system. I spoke about having political education in schools. In 2014, Low (Thia Khiang) and I touched on political education in schools again”.
He continued: “Then Minister of State for Education, Sim Ann, replied that what we had asked for is already taking place in schools. Sim Ann said, “The concepts of citizen rights and obligations, democracy, our electoral system, principles of our Constitution, and the structure of government are covered in the character and citizenship education, social studies, and history curricula in primary and secondary schools.””
Mr Yee noted that Ms Sim Ann said that the Ministry of Education constantly conveyed the message that values matter, including the importance of the collective good. In her view, political education is covered in schools, he wrote.
“My issue then, and still remains today, is about whether we meaningfully cover political education in schools and whether true diversity of thoughts is encouraged from a young age”, Mr Yee wrote. /TISG