Tuesday, October 4, 2011

新加坡公民信约:抱负,非意识形态 The Singapore National Pledge: An Aspiration, Not an Ideology

我们是新加坡公民, 誓愿不分种族、言语、宗教, 团结一致, 建设公正平等 的民主社会, 并为实现国家之幸福、繁荣与进步, 共同努力。

We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.

On 19 August 2009, it was reported that the then Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, in a rare intervention in Parliament, rose yesterday to 'bring the House back to earth' on the issue of racial equality in Singapore.
On 18 August, Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Viswa Sadasivan had tabled a motion for the House to reaffirm its commitment to principles in the National Pledge when debating national policies. In a speech, the NMP had expressed pride in Singapore's inter-racial harmony and principle of equal opportunity for all races. However, he questioned if the Government was sending out mixed signals by emphasising racial categories, for example, through ethnic self-help groups.
Mr Lee rebutted as 'false and flawed' the arguments by the NMP calling for equal treatment for all races. Spelling out the Government's approach to the treatment of different races, he pointed out that the Constitution of Singapore itself enjoins the Government to give Malays a 'special position', rather than to 'treat everybody as equal'.
To 'remind everybody what our starting point is', he pointed to the racially tense period of the 1960s, the circumstances in which the Pledge had been written. Singapore had just been thrown out of Malaysia. The Malays in Singapore were feeling particularly vulnerable, unsure if the Chinese majority here would treat them the way the Malay majority in Malaysia had treated the Chinese minority there.
Because of such a backdrop, the Pledge crafted by then Culture Minister S. Rajaratnam took pains to emphasise principles that would be 'regardless of race, language and religion'.
Mr Lee also drew the House's attention to Article 152 of the Constitution, which makes it the Government's responsibility to 'constantly care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore'. In particular, it states that the Government must recognise the special position of the Malays, 'the indigenous people of Singapore', and safeguard their political, economic and educational interests.
For Singapore to reach a point where all races could be treated equally 'is going to take decades, if not centuries', he said bluntly. For this reason, he sees the Pledge not as an 'ideology', as Mr Viswa put it, but as an 'aspiration'.

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