Sunday, May 31, 2009

Secularism has a place in policies

I do not understand why some people are so bent on bringing religion into the picture. I usually don't talk about religion but this time I really got fed up.

Now one of the NMPs say that because the line between religion and norm of life is blurring, this should be relooked. This NMP also mentioned that secularism' is a protean, chameleon-like term. What it means depends on the context and who is using it; it can be a virtue or a vice. This NMP even stated the casino debate a few years back as an example where people stated their beliefs when they were debating the bill.

However, the main point is that the bill did not take into account of this when it was deliberated. It took into account the social problems that it will cause, and what can be done to mitigate it. Stating the faith or not has no bearing on the bill. That should be the key point! So the example that was stated was a perfect example why religion should NOT be brought into the picture when you're deciding a policy.

Let me give you another example. In Singapore, majority of the Singaporeans are actually Buddhists. Buddhists do not eat beef, and they also go vegetarian on the 15th day of the lunar month. Since majority of Singaporeans are Buddhists and this is a healthy lifestyle, why don't we enshrine this in our policy? There are several advantages. If you do not eat beef, less cows are needed and we help to save the earth because cows actually contribute quite a bit to greenhouse gases. By going vegetarian once a month, we are also in the process detoxing ourselves, and saving the animals. This also reduces greenhouse gases. So why not?

If you see where I am coming from, religion is a belief someone has over certain rules or principles. However this does not necessarily mean that I must believe in their beliefs, and as a gracious Singaporean, I should not force this belief on others. Buddhists do not prohibit people from eating beef on the same table as them. They also do not force other people to go vegetarian on the 15th day of the lunar month. However, we should respect their beliefs and accommodate them if we're eating out with them for example. Is it a bad thing if I eat beef and I'm a "carnivore"? Not exactly. So why must I force everyone to do the same by making it as a policy?

Another important point is that once the first religion related point gets mentioned in a policy, what's stopping from other religions from claiming a place in other policies? What will stop this flood of request from the other religions? Nothing! Because you've allowed one case, that sets precedent for the rest! This is a nightmare for the policy makers. Where's the boundary? Some religions ban smoking. So does that mean the policy should ban it to pacify that particular religion? The only harm of banning smoking is to the tobacco companies. Just think of how many different religions are here in Singapore. Who is going to handle and decide on all those requests? That NMP?

I'm sorry but by mentioning this in Parliament, this NMP has proven that he/she does not think in the national level, and in my opinion, should not even participate in the debate in Parliament. We're a multi-racial society, with many religions in our midst. Can this NMP understand how much harm it can bring to Singapore if this "religious style" is allowed in policy making?

Furthermore, anyone who has friends from other religions should know that it's a BIG NO NO to talk about religions in such gatherings. We respect each other faiths and we leave it at that. Do you know that friendships can be lost just by saying a few wrong words? Secularism MUST be maintained in making policies. This is the only way of prevent chaos from erupting.

Can this "religion debate" ever stop? Why is it always brought up?

1 comment:

Xtrocious said...

Actually, all we have to do is look at Thailand - they are predominantly Buddhist...

But I don't think they have brought religion into their policy making (not to my knowledge)

For example, they don't require one and all to become vegetarians on the 1st and 15th of every lunar month...

However, I heard that guys can either serve as monks or be in the army as part of their national service (someone can add more to this)...but at least there's a choice

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