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Let's Discuss! The Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill

The government is looking to consult the public on a proposed Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill. Come join the Transformative Justice Collective for an online discussion about the suggested legislation and formulate your own views on the matter.

In the wrap over the weekend I mentioned the proposed Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill, and how the government has put up a call for public consultation on REACH. The deadline is 14 May 2024, so there's really not a lot of time.

This bill could have a significant impact on how Singaporeans are allowed to discuss matters related to race and racial justice in our country. We've already seen cases where people have been charged and convicted for calling out racism. What are the implications, then, of a law that would allow the Minister of Home Affairs to issue restraining orders against people or entities to prevent "the production or distribution of content that prejudices the maintenance of racial harmony in Singapore"? What should the role of the state in such national conversations be? What safeguards do we need? What sort of Singapore do we want to live in, and how will this Singapore navigate matters of race?

In 2018, when Parliament convened the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, I was involved in running democracy classroom sessions where people were invited to discuss the issue of "fake news" and how they think it should be handled. We hoped that creating this space for people to learn from one another and articulate their views would encourage people to participate in the public consultation. I don't know how many people actually did write in to the Select Committee in the end, but I like to think that our efforts contributed to the large number of submissions that were sent in.

This time, with the proposed Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill—of which we've not seen the full text—the Transformative Justice Collective is holding a similar discussion session this weekend, 27 April (Saturday) from 4pm–6pm.

It's an online session for now, because we wanted to move fast given the short timeframe. But if you know of a space or are part of a club or community that you think would be interested in hosting and/or participating in such a discussion session, please reach out and let's see what we can do!

Tickets for registration are free, but if we'd really appreciate it if you donated to the Transformative Justice Collective to help us continue our work. 🙏🏼

— Kirsten