During the PAP conference last Sunday, PM Lee said that when it comes to thorny issues like the 377A repeal, the opposition goes missing in action or AWOL (absent without official leave).
Is it true? We all know the PAP has the tendency to blow smoke when they talk about the opposition, especially when elections are around the corner.
On the issue of the repeal of Section 377A, the PAP itself has made clear that the fundamental immediate driver of the repeal was a legal reason, i.e. a strong hint from the Singapore Court of Appeal in Tan Seng Kee that Section 377A was likely unconstitutional.
Hence, as Shanmugam has said, it was the Government’s duty to take up the message implicitly sent by the Court of Appeal and act on it.
Given that context, it is not hard to reach the conclusion that Section 377A must be repealed. It would be very hard for either the PAP or the opposition to say that the constitution should be amended so that Section 377A should be propped up.
The only real issue therefore is whether and if so how to protect the definition of marriage after a repeal.
There, the PAP adopted a conservative but narrow approach – not define marriage in the constitution itself but protect the legislative definition of marriage from constitutional challenge in the Courts.
As for the WP, it has said in a statement in response to the repeal announcement:
a. it recognises the fundamental right of people to live free from fear and discrimination and to be treated equally under the law
b. by the same token, it also respects the right of different groups to hold and discuss positions according to their conscience
c. mutual accommodation and tolerance are critical considerations for legislation in our context.
PSP’s Leong Mun Wai has similarly given his views on the government’s position on 377A.
With regards to the death penalty, the Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh has also stated his party’s position on the issue which was published as a commentary on TODAY.
On top of that, hasn’t the opposition been raising issues in parliament and probing the government on important every day issues? How does that amount to AWOL?
When opposition parties raise thorny issues, the PAP siams them. Is this not the PAP going AWOL?
Did the opposition go MIA?
Only in PM Lee’s imagination.