Singapore cannot use sovereignty excuse

December 13, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Dear SDP,

In the controversy over the recent hanging of the Australian drug traffiicker, some Singaporeans have claimed that our national sovereignty have been threatened when Australians clamoured, or when Chee Soon Juan appealed to them to clamour, for clemency.

National autonomy does not include the right of states to invent their own morality. No independent country can decide what the truth is, and this includes the moral truth.

Just as we cannot arbitrarily decide what the laws of physics should be and then build our MRT according to “Singapore science”, so, if we believe in moral truth at all, Singapore cannot ignore appeals to our moral conscience and respect for the moral law, wherever they come from.

When you pass by a house and chance to see the owner about to murder his wife, you don’t say you can’t intervene because it is his home.

This is why Singapore has had no qualms joining the international community in censuring, say, apartheid in other sovereign states. The issue I raise is especially pertinent in a country where her leaders wear white to signal their commitment to virtue.

I would have liked to send this letter to a national newspaper, but I don’t think they are committed enough to virtue to publish it.

DR TAN TAI WEI