National events must avoid polarising society

The inclusion of Adam Lambert in MediaCorp's 2016 New Year countdown, the finale event of our Jubilee year which will be broadcast on national TV, is deeply polarising, as seen by an online petition calling for him to be removed from the show and an opposing petition in support of him performing ("Petition war over US singer's appearance in countdown show"; last Saturday).

Though neither group can claim to speak on behalf of the majority of Singaporeans, it is indicative that significant numbers of our society hold opposing views, and much tension can result.

While the private space of individuals should be respected, there is a shared public space which should be protected if we want our society to stay united.

There had not been any petition or protest when Lambert performed here at private events in the past.

That is indicative that by and large, the more conservative segments of our society do respect the private space of those with more liberal views, even if they may not agree with them.

National events belong to our shared common space, and any performance that is potentially polarising should be avoided.

The issue is not about a performer's sexuality; the issue is about sexually provocative acts, especially "in the moment" acts, on a live show aired on national television.

Such acts are offensive not just to the religious, but also to many from the older generation who tend to be more conservative. It is deeply disappointing to witness so many online comments coming from people claiming to be inclusive, telling those who are offended by such acts - including many from the older generation who have contributed much in the past 50 years - to not be part of the celebration.

Organisers of national events should be aware of the fault lines and avoid any action that will polarise the different segments of Singapore society.

Charis Mun (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'National events must avoid polarising society'. Print Edition | Subscribe