Tolerance not exclusive quality of liberalism

August 4, 2005
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

I’m drafting this in response to the article “Young Democrat President in Brussels” by Young Democrat President, Mr Charles Tan dated Aug 1, 2005.

While I have no issue with Mr Tan’s description with the essential process and procedures of the European Parliamentary system, I’m rather perturbed by his definition of what makes a liberal.

According to Mr Tan, the belief that an individual should have their freedom and rights coupled with personal responsibility had greatly convinced him that he’s a liberal. However, I would like to highlight that these qualities which Mr Tan mentioned ain’t just exclusive liberal beliefs. Perhaps Mr Tan could further elaborate on what he thought was liberal beliefs or policies. For all I know, Mr Tan could be a conservative or from where I studied before in Texas, a republican!

My main point is that I don’t see how those qualities which Mr Tan indicated in his article could possibly made him conclude that he’s a liberal and thereafter further propagate that liberals are the ones who, I quote, “practice tolerance, possess a readiness to accept views or actions that one disagrees or disapproves”. As I had mentioned before, a republican with a conservative viewpoint could easily have done what Mr Tan defined as

”liberal” attributes.

In addition, I thought Mr Tan had attempted to link fundamental democratic values with his erroneous definition of ‘liberal’ values. It is definitely not true that the belief that individuals who asked for freedom and rights should also be responsible for their own actions is exclusively a liberal belief. In fact, I thought that was quite a republican philosophy – the belief of individual liberty, independence, self-reliance, personal

responsibility, minimal government etc, because I remember reading a book written

by former Republican US President Richard Nixon.

Finally, perhaps Mr Tan could elaborate on what his thoughts or views on social welfare, defense (terrorism, military spending etc), crime/punishment, distribution of income, business/trade and foreign policies are. Maybe, just maybe, through his explanation, will we but most importantly, Mr Tan himself would be convinced that he is a true blue