Don't let politics polarise
By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Sep 2012
Senior Minister of State for Education and Information, Communications and the Arts, Lawrence Wong, has rebutted some online views over the past few weeks on the British royal couple's visit to Queenstown and the MediaCorp TV forum with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, A Conversation with PM Lee.
In a post on his Facebook page on Monday, Mr Wong said he has been watching the incidents unfold on the internet with "some heaviness" in his heart.
He said politics can either drive a wedge between Singaporeans and divide the society or it can be a force for good to bring the people together and to build a stronger and better Singapore.
He noted that when the British royal couple - Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge - visited Queenstown, Singaporeans young and old volunteered readily to be part of this event.
Yet, they were mocked online for taking part in a "wayang" show.
In the case of the MediaCorp TV forum, Mr Wong said no one was invited because of his or her political affiliation.
Among the group of 50 invited to take part, a few were members of the People's Action Party (PAP).
Mr Wong said on the internet, there was a campaign targeted against these PAP members.
Mr Wong pointed out the PAP has done a lot for Singaporeans over the past decades but it is not perfect.
He said there's a need to listen to criticisms and improve as a party, to serve the people even better.
"This is why I and many others joined the PAP because we appreciate what the party has done, we believe in the cause the party stands for, and we want to help the party do more to serve the interests of Singapore and our fellow Singaporeans. I understand that not everyone will feel the same way about the PAP. Each of us is free to support any political party and choose the government we want," he said.
Mr Wong said while critics online clearly have their own political affiliations, Singapore does not want to end up in a situation where every activity or conversation in the country becomes politicised, and where Singaporeans are set against Singaporeans based on creed or political affiliation.
"More importantly, when decent people step forward to be part of a genuine national effort to welcome our overseas guests, or volunteer their time to be part of a national TV forum with the PM, and yet get vilified by their fellow citizens, then we really should pause and reflect, and ask ourselves whether this is the kind of society we want. Politics can drive a wedge between us and divide our society. Or it can be a force for good, to bring our people together, and to build a stronger and better Singapore," he said in his posting on Facebook.
He urged online critics and all Singaporeans to work together and keep Singapore's democracy healthy by maintaining a basic level of civility in public discourse and treating all with dignity and respect, as well as finding ways to bridge differences and forge a common future together.