WP’s motion for Gender Equality passed in Parliament with support from the PAP

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A motion on gender tabled by the Workers’ Party was passed in Parliament on August 3 2021, albeit with an amendment from PAP Vikram Nair. This shows that, contrary to popular claim, an party does not need a sizeable presence to have its motion passed in Parliament.

The determining factor is whether it betters the lives of Singaporeans. There can be common grounds for working together and the passing of a motion tabled by the shows that the PAP MPs will readily any cause that improves the lives of Singaporeans. After all, good politics is about Singaporeans.

Beyond words

As PAP Vikram Nair noted, the motion rightly acknowledges that helping women to achieve their full potential requires a whole of society effort to remove the barriers, both visible and invisible ones.

However, Vikram thinks the motion could go further. And so he proposed that the House also “looks forward to action plans” in the upcoming Government White Paper arising out of the Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development. (Read PM Lee’s related speech)

Setbacks

The passing of the motion, however, was eclipsed by the series of events set off by former MP Raeesah Khan’s false narrative in Parliament in a speech she made in of the motion.

The false narrative that Ms Khan foolishly embellished into her speech could cause great harm to police had it not been exposed. It could erode trust in police and impede their ability to investigate sexual crimes. It could deter sexual victims from coming forward to report their experience. It could also deter victims from sharing in support groups if they fear their stories would be shared outside without their consent, breaching confidentiality. Victims of sexual assault may wonder if support groups are safe places to share their trauma.

Ms Khan’s unwarranted attack on police set back the work to protect sexual assault victims. Unfortunately it did not stop with her. The leaders of Workers’ Party led by Mr Pritam Singh have shown that when push comes to shove, they will not hesitate to cast aspersions on victims suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in order to save themselves.

Mr Singh cast doubt on Ms Khan’s mental soundness and suggested a psychiatric evaluation of her. MP Dennis Tan, a panel member of the Committee of Privileges investigating Ms Khan’s lies, spent 50 minutes trying to get the expert witness Dr Christopher Cheok to say that Ms Khan was prone to lying due to her past traumatic experience.

Meanwhile, the rest of the MPs have kept quiet on these attacks. WP MPs He Ting Ru and Leon Perera who raised the motion on gender in Parliament have been noticeably silent on these attacks.

The motion was noble to read. But the MPs’ silence in the face of attacks and aspersions cast on victims of traumas makes you wonder how far their conviction goes.

 

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