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Joel’s conversation with SM Teo Chee Hean

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Facebook user Joel Tan, a writer, enjoyed recounting a conversation he had with Mr Teo Chee Hean when Mr Teo came visiting.

He mistook Mr Teo for a Minster in the PMO.  Mr Teo is in fact, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security.

Joel considers estate upgrading a ‘lame’ thing. Guess not everyone looks forward to estate upgrading.

He wrote that Mr Teo came with a ‘massive entourage of town council people who made sure the whole block knew of the divine visitation’. Interesting description. Wonder if he considers the massive entourage we see of SDP, PSP and WP in market places and neighbourhoods also a case of wanting everyone to know of a divine visitation?

The conversation turned to Parti Liyani. Joel wanted to know if the minister would ask questions in Parliament.

I’m glad the minister did not try to make himself popular by saying ‘yes, he would ask questions’.

The AGC, police and MOM are all doing a review following the remarks by the High Court judge. Due process must be given time to be carried out and completed. Asking questions in Parliament when the process is not over would be an attempt to influence the reviews. The minister is not above the law. The minister must follow the due process of law, speak and ask questions at the right time, and that will be after the review. He should not use his position of influence to affect the outcome of the review.

So I’m very glad the minister told Joel he would read his email but he would not act on it.

When asked by Mr Teo what he thought of Alfian Sa’at recent writing about wanting to revert to celebrating our national day on August 31, he defended Alfian by saying that Alfian had a very nuanced view of history and national identity. He did not say whether he shared the same desire as Alfian to revert to August 31 to celebrate national day.

The conversation then went on the Section 377A of the Penal Code which Joel described as discriminatory.

Mr Teo explained that ‘we have to take things slowly, and not push too hard’ because there will be a push back if one side pushes too hard.  Change must come slowly and at a pace that suits everyone so that there will be no conflict. He cautioned that ‘we have to be very careful about these culture wars’.

On the whole, it was an interesting conversation.

What I get from this conversation and from the outcry on social media is that Singaporeans have a strong sense of justice and equality especially when the one on the receiving end is a more vulnerable member of society. This is a good thing.

Also, there are things that Singaporeans are passionate about (like 377A). Each has their conviction and reasons on both sides of the spectrum for which there are no quick and easy solutions.

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