How Far In Your Society Should Unpopular Views Be Open For Discussion

1418 Words Mar 19th, 2015 6 Pages
BP2014 Essay Issue

Q12. How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open for discussion?

In May 2013, Singapore’s media regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA), introduce a new licensing framework regulating online news sites operating in Singapore. The move came as a surprise to many and elicited a wide array of responses. The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry association formed by eBay, Facebook, Google and Yahoo, argued that the new regulatory framework creates business uncertainty and stifles innovation, whereas the United States government criticised the move as a further restriction on freedom of expression in Singapore. While the Singapore government, predictably, defended the framework as necessary to
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A renowned attorney, Shanmugam handles contentious debates on issues like racism, welfarism, immigration and even PAP’s authoritarian tendencies with consummate ease. He does not shy away from taking on unpopular views, and most crucially, he is not afraid of admitting that he is wrong when proven so. The fact of the matter is, examining and discussing the merits (or the lack thereof) of unpopular views legitimises the process of governance rather than undermines it. If we allow the process of open debate to reach its fullest conclusion, we will find that what remains is always the truth or the best possible decision for us to make, and that society would better for it.

Obviously, there will remain those who habour fears that the unfettered discussion of sensitive and emotive issues would quickly descend into an uncivilised mess, characterised by vicious insults and illogical diatribes. Such fears are, of course, understandable, but they are ultimately misplaced. There is little evidence to suggest that Singaporeans are ill-equipped to handle the discussion of controversial and potentially divisive views; quite to the contrary. The recent debate that occurred online on the subject of homosexuality and liberal Islam was certainly a heated one. And there were, admittedly, more than a few discussants who allowed their emotions to get the better of them, not to mention nefarious trolls