| Singapore | 17 March 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Dr Kanwaljit Soin, Singapore’s first female orthopaedic surgeon and the first female Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), has called for a more open political landscape for the republic and pushed for the idea of a non-Chinese prime minister if the person fits the bill.
In a candid interview with 938LIVE’s, Dr Kanwaljit spoke about biases and meritocracy in Singapore, and dealing with out of bound markers, simply referred to as OB markers in Singapore.
“The political atmosphere here is very subdued, and it has purposely been that way, because earlier on, there were other priorities like survival, economic survival and we needed to build up our army. But now, we have become a developed nation. We are the third-richest country in the world. We now have to diversify.
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“We must let people express their opinions, and not be ready to rap them on their knuckles for that. And even with some of these issues, there are more than enough laws to ensure that people do not make remarks that will lead to interracial or inter-religious conflict,” she says in the interview.
The text was shared at Channel News Asia website here. [Ex-NMP Dr Kanwaljit Soin on politics, meritocracy and ageism in Singapore, CNA, 12 March 2016].
The 74-yer old medical doctor, a founder member of gender equality organisation, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), was described by the article as one of the most well-known feminists in Singapore.
To date, she remains the only Sikh woman in Singapore’s history to have entered parliamentary politics, according to an entry about her in the
Here are some quotes from the interview:
I’ve been thinking about that lately. I think partly it has to do with my religion. I was born a Sikh, and the Sikh religion is quite progressive, and it does believe in equality of the sexes, and does believe in justice and fairness, and does not like inequality. So maybe it’s got to do with something I read or heard when I was young. I cannot put a finger to it.
This is our country. Surely we have a right to give our input. We need to know the rules of the game better, so we can play the game better. Without the rules, we don’t know. When the referee blows the whistle, we are completely astounded.
The political atmosphere here is very subdued, and it has purposely been that way, because earlier on, there were other priorities like survival, economic survival and we needed to build up our army. But now, we have become a developed nation. We are the third-richest country in the world. We now have to diversify. We must let people express their opinions, and not be ready to rap them on their knuckles for that. And even with some of these issues, there are more than enough laws to ensure that people do not make remarks that will lead to interracial or inter-religious conflict.
But even things like religion and race ought to be talked about. Everything’s pushed under the carpet. The Government might say, “Oh, let’s not talk about it. It’s too sensitive.” But if you don’t talk about it, and don’t iron it out, how are you ever going to make sure that your differences are understood and respected?
For example, we talk of being a meritocratic society, but why has nobody said that Minister Tharman (Shanmugaratnam) can be the next Prime Minister. Why does the Government say the population is not ready for an Indian Prime Minister?
What do you mean by “we’re not ready for it?” We’re a meritocratic society, interracial, inter-religious, inter-cultural. So if you look at ability alone, why is Minister Tharman not considered? He’s Prime Ministerial material. Why is there a fear that the population will not accept an Indian as a Prime Minister? What gives people the right to assume?
We have had non-Chinese Chief Justices. So why is there such a difficulty in having a non-Chinese Prime Minister? And something we pride ourselves on, besides being an economic success, is meritocracy.
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