Questioning of some views expressed by Mr K Shanmugam [Home Affairs and Law Minister of Singapore

This post can be found in Reach [a govt forum] – posted on 6 Jul 2016
https://www.reach.gov.sg/participate/discussion-forum/2016/06/19/shanmugam-zero-tolerance-for-hate-speech?ec_as=E7B91519870D4322A0AE1E702EFCB03C

Concerning the need [for Singapore] to reject intolerant teachings, I wonder whether Mr Shanmugam has read the Quran or the Bible. To be sure, intolerant teachings can be found in the Quran and the Bible, regardless of what one may think further about them, for example, as writings from a work of fiction [or non-fiction?]. The point about fiction or non-fiction should not be taken lightly; terms such as Paradise/Heaven, Hell and Angel[s] appear in the Quran; these terms also appear in the Bible. But in the Bible we also hear of so-called “real life” stories about a talking snake and a talking donkey, narrated as events that had happened in the distant past.One can then ask, with tongue in cheek, how do you explain a talking snake or donkey, if the Bible isn’t true? And a place such as Heaven or Hell – can believers prove their existence? I know Earth exists, I can see the Sun. But “Heaven” or “Hell”? Imagination is not reality and cannot be assumed as such.

Inflammatory comments on race and religion have no place in Singapore – that’s a debatable statement; would Mr Shanmugam agree that what is inflammatory can be highly subjective? I would like him to answer this question and provide examples [say, 5 examples] of comments that have been uttered or written, on race or religion, that in his opinion are inflammatory.

On the point of burning the Quran or any other “holy book,” would Mr Shanmugam please elaborate or clarify: what does he mean by the term “holy.” Again, what is “holy” or “unholy” can be subjective, would you agree, Mr Shanmugam? Yes/No? A book made of paper is just dead wood. Would it be right to assume any scriptural writing relating to a religious group, any religious group, is “holy”? Yes/No? If the answer is Yes, it follows then that I cannot burn a book written about Zeus or Thor or Buddha or Brahma, not even in my own home, not even if I have ownership of it and paid for it? If I cannot burn such a book, can I openly discard it into the trash bin, in my own home or in a public space?

“In the US, their idea of free speech means you can burn the Quran, attack Muslims, attack others” – whoever gives you or has given you the idea that freedom of speech in the US also means the freedom to attack Muslims and others? Can you provide concrete examples where an advocacy of freedom of speech was coupled with an advocacy for freedom to attack Muslims and others?

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