Current approach to 377A is untenable

I refer to the recent public discussions on whether or not to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code.

I am not advocating either viewpoint. But I think the current adopted approach is untenable and ultimately detrimental to our system of parliamentary democracy.

Hoping that a problem goes away with the passage of time is usually not the best solution. This could lead to the issue festering and eventually exacerbating the fissures within our society.

Our Westminster system of parliamentary representation delegates the role of legislation to our elected representatives.

Having secured a mandate from the voters, our representatives in Parliament are empowered to legislate on our behalf. Parliament becomes the guardian and sole arbiter of the laws of the land.

When we have a law, justified or otherwise, that the Government of the day consciously and explicitly does not enforce, we are wading into murky territory (Section 377A: Unlike courts, Parliament considers public views; Sept 9). It raises all sorts of questions about propriety and procedures.

How was the decision to not enforce the law taken? Was it a consensual decision in Parliament or was it made solely by certain office-holders? Taken to the extreme, this also raises worrisome questions of how the laws of our land could potentially be suspended without any due process.

The elected representatives are there to represent the will of the people and to make hard decisions on their behalf.

Perhaps if they are unable to discern properly the will of the people, the issue should be put forth as a public referendum. Then all concerned citizens can make their voices heard andwe, as a society, can come to a decision that best represents our wishes and ideals.

Tan Suan Jin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Current approach to 377A is untenable'. Print Edition | Subscribe