A tale of two Singaporean organisations

In the red corner, we have the Media Literacy Council (MLC). In the blue corner, we have the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).

The MLC is a quasi-governmental organisation. Its members aren’t civil servants, but the secretariat is certainly staffed by public servants from the MDA. The SKM is “a non-government, non-profit organisation, as well as a registered charity and Institution of Public Character.”

The MLC has a chairman who stood by one of its council members who said that children of terrorists should be killed. In the face of public furore, the chairman merely said, almost in a perfunctory manner, that the comments were insensitive and inappropriate. It really makes one wonder if this said chairman actually understood, or worse, was dismissive, of the immense negative impact the statements of that member.

The SKM has a general secretary who bothered to lay out firmly, but also very respectfully, why the comments of that particular member of MLC were not only inappropriate and insensitive, but also offensive. This is what he had to say about those comments:

“Our past is littered with examples of individuals who have overstepped the bounds of good taste and been deliberately offensive or hateful. In a multicultural and multiracial society, a delicate balance must be struck so that we might all benefit from the continued peace we all enjoy.

It is an interpretation of the law to say if such comments about the killing of children overstep the legal boundaries we have established for ourselves. On the face of it, it is certainly extreme, insensitive, inappropriate and offensive. It only adds fuel to the fire.

It is talking points like these that alienate individuals and provide further ammunition to the same extremists we are looking to defeat.”

But he doesn’t just leave it at that. He also suggests better alternatives to the sort of hatred bred by the MLC member:

“When it comes to the safety and security of our people and our nation, we all have a stake. And if extremist ideologies like those of ISIS and others present a threat to our nation, we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution – to reduce our capacity for alienation and to increase our acceptance, so that fringe ideologies can find no fertile soil on our island and in our people.”

He’s no idealistic fool. He knows that “it may be too idealistic to think that something as simple as kindness can cure extremism. It can’t. But a little kindness can sap its strength, slow its progress, make the fields less fertile for subversive messages to germinate and grow.” And finally exhorts us to all play our part.

From the way the chairman of MLC responded to the remarks by Calvin Cheng, it is clear that the MLC doesn’t truly live up to its purported values and is actually quite hypocritical. On the other hand, the response by Dr William Wan, general secretary of SKM, shows that SKM truly embodies its declared values. In fact, it would seem that SKM is doing a far better job at promoting the values that MLC claims they are promoting.

In this contest of ideas, values, hearts and minds, it is clear who is the winner. So perhaps we all ought to stop wasting taxpayers money, close down MLC and move all the resources to SKM.

Dr William Wan, you are WAN heck of a guy. Thanks for giving me reason to hope again.

[Featured image: Banner from SKM website]

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