Shanmugam quashes “dark suggestions” that Watain ban was due to a Christian “hold on the Government”
Shanmugam stated that it was the duty of the Minister for Home Affairs to make decisions based on national interest.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has taken aim at suggestions that Christian influence played a role in the decision to cancel Watain’s concert.
In a speech delivered on April 1 in Parliament, on restricting hate speech to maintain racial and religious harmony in Singapore, Shanmugam stated that his decision to cancel Watain’s concert was taken in his capacity as Minister for Home Affairs.
Dangerous to suggest a Christian conspiracy
Shanmugam noted that some online commentators had “dark suggestions of a Christian conspiracy” that the ban had been the result of Christians having a hold on government, being over-represented in institutions of power and that the government had bowed to their influence.
This led to Shanmugam’s rebuttal that such allegations were nasty, opportunistic and dangerous, especially since they turned the issue into a “Christian versus Others” debate.
Decision made in his personal capacity
Shanmugam added that the decision had been made in his capacity as the Home Affairs Minister, with the enshrined responsibility of guarding national security and religious harmony.
In clarifying that he is neither Christian, nor had he been influenced by Christians, Shanmugam highlighted that he had banned two Christian preachers in 2017.
Shanmugam reiterated that it was the duty of the Minister for Home Affairs, regardless of his religion, to make decisions on the basis of national interest.
Widespread view of Christian community that concert should have been cancelled
On the context of making his decision, Shanmugam clarified that the decision to cancel the concert, after initially allowing it, was due to the reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had received from mainstream Christians who were very concerned and offended.
He added that had MHA only been interested in politics and tactical considerations, the concert would have been allowed to proceed, despite knowing the new information.
Shanmugam also elaborated that MHA officers had met with Christian leaders, along with leaders of other religions and that many Christians had felt the concert was deeply offensive and denigrating to Christianity.
This resulted in his decision for MHA to advise IMDA to cancel the concert.
Survey revealed agreement to cancel concert is the majority
In adding that REACH had done a poll consisting of 680 Singaporeans surveyed by telephone from March 11 to 15, Shanmugam stated that 86 per cent of Christians agreed with the cancellation.
Additionally, only 28 per cent thought the concert should not have been cancelled, while nearly 70 per cent of Buddhists and Muslims agreed with the cancellation.
For free thinkers, 51 per cent disagreed.
Shanmugam cautioned however, that while the government would give due consideration to the views of all communities, it was not possible for the government to accept any community’s viewpoint on all issues, on every performer, for every concert, in every art form.
More details on how the cancellation occurred:
On what would happen should Watain be allowed to perform:
Top image from Gov.sg Youtube