In which I “overuse” quotation marks.

February 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Someone shared this on FB and I happened glanced through it, and thought it would be pretty useful for GP! It’s basically a list of all the violation of Human Rights committed by over 90 countries around the world as of 2015. Yes, naturally Singapore is among one of them as well.

For Singapore, the violations spanned over lack of political and civil rights – namely

1. Lack of freedom of speech, association or peaceful assembly,

2. Our country’s staunch anti-LGBT stance


3. Our exploitation of migrant workers.

These might be useful for GP especially since the school is harping so much on ethics and rights for the past few lectures/tutorials. Also, good to know general knowledge I suppose.


1.   I largely agree with the first point, democracy in our country is at best only in its following of the basic democratic structures of fair elections, equal voting rights etc. But we are hardly an exemplary case in fulfilling the essence of democracy. One might argue that these international NGOs are placing “western ideals and expectations” on the Singaporean society’s “inherently different culture” – which Ms Hidayah interestingly mentioned in class is a form of Moral Relativism. Moral Relativism is basically whereby one applies different moral standards tailored to each unique circumstances, so it’s not a “one-size fits all” concept. The idea of our society being culturally and societally different from that of “Western expectations”, thus gives rise to the argument that our society’s “norms” are being unfair treated as “human rights violations” in the eyes of the Western idealists. However, applying this same idea of each country simply going by their own Moral Relativism of adhering to their own cultural background, it would seem similarly “unfair” to condone the practice of female genitalia mutilation (FGM) or child brides in African/Asian/Middle Eastern countries given they could similarly give the excuse of it being “a cultural custom of their society” and that NGOs were placing the Western imperialist expectations on a society that was “culturally different” from that of the Western world.

Just a thought.

2.   I’m a LGBT proponent and it is encouraging to see there are some pro-equality movements in Singapore, such as the Pink Dot. Perhaps in the future, there will be greater progress made in this field.

3.   The Human Rights article seems to have overplayed the Little India riots that took place, because I don’t remember anything about the migrant workers going to the extent of “torching houses, stores and vehicles”. I might be wrong though, I wasn’t really invested in that issue because it got messy pretty fast. That being said, I have heard of horror stories of companies abusing or not paying their foreign workers and many instances of Singaporean families abusing their domestic helpers, which I am entirely disgusted by. Ms Ng mentioned in class about how Singaporeans viewed domestic workers as a “necessity” but at the same time, they are not exactly embracing them with open arms. It’s like we treat them as part of the construction sites or the road works when we pass by, like they are simply part of the scenery of scaffolding and heavy machinery. I’m not exactly absolving myself of this behaviour because I am equally or as much guilty of doing this but I thought it was a very good point she raised up.

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