A Letter To Singapore Ministers in light of Little India riots


Dear Ministers,

I have recently returned from a 4-month fellowship sponsored by the United States Department of State in the US to learn and deepen my understanding and skills on ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, having learnt first-hand from my supervisor who is a peacebuilder in global conflicts and is acknowledged by her peers as one of the best in the field as well as from other experts in the field of peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.

The riots in Little India, which happened on the night of 8 December 2013 was a regrettable incident. Unfortunately, it could have been an avoidable incident. Though not culturally or religiously motivated, it was the result of a failure to bridge understanding between the different cultures that live in Singapore. The lack of a structure to institutionalize understanding between the different cultures: between Singaporeans as well as between Singaporeans and foreigners. This was an observation I’ve made in my research on the trends of the conflicts during my fellowship.

For the longest time, we have always been taught to be a tolerant society but tolerance is only the suppression of negative emotions for the sake of peace. In conflict resolution terms, we understand this as negative peace. It is something Singaporeans have been taught and it is something that we have taught others who come to live in Singapore.

I am, therefore, reaching out to you, to offer my time and service, as a Singaporean as a Reservist Police Officer as a Grassroots Leader as a Global Leader, to help begin the positive and peaceful conflict resolution process, not just for this incident, but for us to begin building the blocks of positive and nationwide peacebuilding.

I hope you believe in positive peacebuilding efforts because otherwise, we will forever remain in negative peace, and that is something I do not want our younger generations to inherit.

Letter to US President, Barack Hussein Obama


Dear President Obama,

As a concerned member of the United States Department of State fellow working on the theme of ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, I find much irony that your Department of State is giving out scholarships to individuals all over the world to work on several themes, of which one of them is where I’m involved in.

The theme of ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’ clearly speaks to dear program fellows of the Community Solutions Program on how to resolve conflicts through peaceful means; negotiation and nonviolence.

Unfortunately, I am disappointed at how you have decided to react at the situation in Syria without having clear and absolute knowledge beyond any reasonable doubt on which party had used the chemical weapons. Instead, you have jumped to conclusions, based on intelligence which are not able to provide you clear facts and evidence on who had used such chemical weapons.

In doing so, you have took it upon yourself to defame the Syrian government, that they have indeed committed a crime when you yourself are unsure on the facts of the case. You have also solicited support from other world leaders to join you in your cause to defame the Syrian government of crimes that hasn’t been proven.

As a graduate of Harvard Law school, I’m sure you would be well aware that in prosecuting someone, you need to have full facts of the case and the case has to be proven that whoever is being presented to in court, is beyond any reasonable doubt, has indeed committed such a crime – this I learnt as a trainee and as a police officer serving for the Singapore Police Force.

I, therefore, urge you, to wait for the investigation results by the United Nations before you commit yourself into a war that you know, the catastrophe will be beyond anyone’s control.

Thereafter, should the UN investigation results prove beyond ANY REASONABLE DOUBT, that the Syrian government had indeed used chemical weapons, I hope you would then think about the innocent that will be affected from the bombs that you have no control over.

As President, who is overseeing the funding for the Department of State fellowship that I am on, working on the theme of ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, I would find it extremely pointless to be here then in the United States to be learning about peaceful methods of resolving conflict; negotiation and nonviolence, if the country who is sponsoring me to learn about this expects me to share what I have learnt from this experience to citizens of my home country on my return.

I believe that when I speak on this matter, I am also speaking on behalf of my other fellows, of which, one of them is from Aleppo.

Image

Your bomb may just be the one to kill his someone he knows who happens to be in the vicinity.

I hope you will reconsider your decision to take up arms and instead seek more peaceful methods to resolve this conflict.

Regards,

Abdillah Zamzuri
Program Fellow
Community Solutions Program
U.S Department of State