Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Diversity a bone or a bane?

Sent to the ST to reply to a sad fundamentalist ex-student of SMU


Acceptance of diversity, or the first step towards intolerance?

Being an SMU alumni, I am disappointed to read that an ex-student believes
that SMU should suppress its students on speaking out for a minority. SMU
sees one of its missions to develop tomorrow's leaders - responsible
leaders that can lead a society, and not just the minority they happen to
belong to. To be aware of the various nuances in any issue, and to seek
the path that leads to equality and fairness of treatment of all and not
the privileged few.

In my experience, SMU seeks to arm its graduates with a sense of
responsible leadership: by making sure that every student takes at least
1 module in logic, my fellow graduates have been armed with the tools to
make good decisions towards the betterment of themselves, and the society
they participate in. This module also aids in our graduates' separating
fallacies from truths when they listen to any side of an issue.

The other module in question - Leadership & Team Building, is one
module that aids greatly in developing a responsible leader. A module
which I found great personal reward in, as it gave us, as students, the
opportunity to
discover what was possible if strong minds were allied with stout wills
and able hands. Many communities are better off today for the various
efforts that each individual student project group have contributed.

This is exactly the module where a publication on the lives of ordinary
citizens (who happen to have different sexual preferences) can be
celebrated in. To welcome them again as part of our vibrant and diverse
society. To remind ourselves that they have always been with us, are still
part of us, and will continue to live, laugh, grow old, and serve our
society like the rest of us.

Leonard Ng and his team have offered us a glimpse into the ordinary lives
of our own citizens. Where is the wrongness in that? Must such
celebrations of diversity be muzzled because it offends another minority?

SMU was founded to bring diversity to the tertiary education scene in
Singapore. Our graduates are not just clones off a factory line - and this
publication is the evidence that we have succeeded. May many more
innovations spring from this budding university.

Ong Kian Wee
ex-student leader
class of 2001
Singapore Management University