Youths react to National Day Rally 2022 announcements
New policies introduced and topics discussed during the speech include the repeal of Section 377A and developments for Changi Airport’s Terminal 5.
Singapore will repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalised sex between men and amend the Constitution to protect against legal challenges to the definition of marriage as between a man and woman.
These were among the announcements made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally 2022 speech on Sunday (Aug 28) at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Headquarters at Ang Mo Kio.
Apart from the repeal of Section 377A, PM Lee also announced an upcoming change in mask requirements, which will allow people to go mask-free except on public transport and in places where there are high-risk individuals.
Youthopia spoke to some youths to find out how they felt about the policy changes made at the National Day Rally.
A complex issue with more than meets the eye
“It (repeal of Section 377A) is a very complicated issue and yet, it is often depicted as a fight between two sides – a fight between the liberals and the conservatives. People have nuanced perspectives on this – while some may agree on the appeal, those same people who agree on the repeal may not agree on legal gay marriages as it goes against their religious principle.
“The issue is also emotionally-charged, and I don’t feel safe talking about it because I feel that people can find fault in our views. This issue seems to have a way of demanding us to take a black or white stand, whereas the issue is far more complicated. For instance, can a religious person, who disapproves the act say he / she has gay friends? There will be those who can find fault here as it is not straightforward.
“PM Lee and his team have worded his speech on 377A in the National Day Rally in a very nuanced and logical manner – he said along the lines of “should gay men be criminalised for their act?” He also explained the background of 377A and assured that the definition of family, i.e. the one composed of a man and a woman will be protected. However, I fear that we do not take as much effort in reading what he said in length. Even if news agencies, be it the traditional and social media presents a nuanced infographic, some may not read the entire thing and will focus on what they resonate with. Hence, this is my concern – some will nitpick on what they resonate with and will not be civil about it. Thus, a nuanced speech does not make a nuanced society.” – Nabillah Jalal, 30, Teacher and founder of ArtSee
A step in the right direction for the Singaporean LGBTQIA+ community
“I’m actually very happy with this move. As an ally, I think it’s empowering to those part of the LGBTQIA+ community to not only be more honest about who they are, but also feel a stronger sense of belonging to Singapore.
“Decriminalising same-sex intercourse between men could be the first step towards considering the more important legal issues queer folks face, such as healthcare and housing.” – Charlotte Chang, 20, Student
A small but welcome development
“I think it is long overdue and I am glad that it is finally happening. However, Section 377A was not actively enforced so now that it has been repealed, I don’t think it will drastically change anything.
“But what this definitely shows is that we are progressing as a society and how people are becoming more open-minded and acceptive of the LGBT+ community.” – Anish Khanna, 20, Student
Repeal of Section 377A may be detrimental to the country
“I feel the Government has taken a step in the wrong direction by repealing 377A. By supporting such ideals, it will likely anger many people due to their different religious beliefs. Hence, I feel that respecting such beliefs are far more important than trying to appease a select group of people.
“Additionally, I also feel that this repeal will be detrimental to our society in the future. By showing support for such causes, it might mislead others into believing that it is the norm, leading them to subsequently influence the young generations with such ideals. This could potentially lead to lower birth rates, which in turn results in lower population and eventually a weaker economy in the future.” – Javen Wong, 18, Student
A sensible change in the mask-wearing policy
“As the COVID-19 virus starts to become more of a regular flu rather than a life-threatening virus, I think this measure makes a lot of sense. Two years into mask-wearing, many Singaporeans, myself included, are definitely happy to hear about this change. Personally, this would help during the little inconveniences such as when I am travelling to cafes or shops along the street. I can have my mask off during the whole time, as well as when moving around in restaurants to go to the toilet.
“However, COVID-19 is still a high risk to the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions. In public transport, the virus can also spread quickly as it is a small space that is highly congested. Hence I agree that masks should still be required in these instances to reduce the spread of the virus” – Glenn Lim, 19, Student
Grateful for the growth of the Biomedical industry in Singapore
“The segment of the rally on bringing in foreign talent to build the Biomedical industry stood out to me most. As a Biomedical student, I have been personally mentored by researchers at A* Star and have worked closely with them. I am extremely grateful that this sector was built up so successfully by the foreign researchers who came to Singapore and essentially founded the local scene.” – Reese Chen, 19, Student
Exciting developments for locals and tourists alike
“The making of Terminal 5 stood out to me as it’s the biggest terminal to date and can occupy 50 million people, which is the total of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 combined. It’s also interesting to see that it will be more green-efficient, and will be equipped with facilities to help counter situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be more air travel as the pandemic continues to die down, which is why a bigger terminal would be good for the locals and tourists, who can also look forward to the new Changi East Urban District next to Terminal 5.” – Qurratu’Ain Binte Muhammad Iqbal, 20, Graphic designer
Additional reporting by Ernest Cheng.