Our government loves decisions that are unpopular but correct.
From casinos to GST, the will of the majority has always been duly ‘considered’ before someone more ‘qualified’ makes the final call.
Expert opinions matter. Long-term impact matters. There are many factors to consider, and a responsible leader must weigh the pros and cons before making the ‘right’ decision, even if votes are lost as a result.
This was the standard operating procedure until last weekend, when the powers that be suddenly decided to embrace populism.
After Dr. Tommy Koh’s statement on 377A ignited a firestorm on social media, our government decided to take the stance that they have no stance. After years of telling Singaporeans to trust them because they know what’s best for the nation, they decided to shrug and hand that difficult responsibility back to Singaporeans.
What happened to doing what’s necessary, even if it means unhappiness? What happened to the principle of making ‘right’ decisions even if they are unpopular?
This is inconsistent. You can either embrace democracy or not. You cannot enjoy the best of both worlds. Leadership is not a cai fan stall where you can pick and choose the battles according to your taste.
If you really know what’s ‘best’ for the nation, pick a side and stand by it.
If you don’t, then avoid the lofty rhetoric about ‘making hard choices’.
Unfortunately, there is no ‘middle ground’ on 377A. Not for the government, not for anyone. As it stands, the current law is discriminatory and unjust. Senior civil servants like the Chief of Government Communications, Janadas Devan, have agreed by calling it a “bad law”.
But if you don’t support its repeal, you are not a neutral party, you are upholding a prejudiced status quo.
To quote the late David Foster Wallace: “You either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
Sadly, that’s what our leaders have chosen to do at this critical juncture. Instead of taking a stand ‘for’ or ‘against’ 377A, they’ve chosen to stay home and avoid the responsibility of a painful moral choice.
They have that right, of course.
But if that’s the ‘position’, then let’s hear no more about the political sacrifices of an ‘unpopular but right’ choice. Principles are only principles when applied consistently.
For my part, please repeal 377A.