Response from Pericles Lewis, Yale-NUS President, to July 16th, 2012 WSJ article “Singapore’s Venture With Yale to Limit Protests”

WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/article
/SB100014240527023039337
04577530524046581142.html

Dear All,

I have written to the Wall Street Journal to express my dissatisfaction with their summary of my interview last week. In particular, the following paragraph contains an inaccurate summary:

Wall Street Journal:

“Students at the new school “are going to be totally free to express their views,” but they won’t be allowed to organize political protests on campus, said Pericles Lewis, the college’s new president, in an interview last week.”

Actual transcript of interview shows I said the following: 

“People are going to be totally free to express their views on the war in Afghanistan, or anything else if they wanted, but in terms of organized protests  heading off campus, they would have to obey Singaporean laws. But I think there will be a lot of opportunities for people to have political debates in the classroom and as well as outside the classroom.  People can have groups to discuss politics on campus, you can discuss political parties but not establish political parties on campus.”

Political debate will be part of Yale-NUS campus activity. Academic freedom will be protected, and a non-discrimination policy is in place. Yale-NUS will not place restrictions on political speech or activity beyond those of Singaporean law.

Thanks.

Pericles

Pericles Lewis
President, Yale-NUS College
pericles.lewis@yale-nus.edu.sg

3 comments

  1. John Tan

    Dear Dr. Lewis,

    You said WSJ misquoted you. Ok, let’s examine your transcript. It is no different, actually. WSJ basically said what you had carefully tried to avoid saying.

    Quote: “…in terms of organized protests heading off campus, they would have to obey Singaporean laws.” We know what Singapore laws do to people who protest off campus, but we want to know what you allow or disallow on campus. You should say that categorically now if you wants to dispute WSJ’s account.

    Quote: “Yale-NUS will not place restrictions on political speech or activity beyond those of Singaporean law.” If what you allow on campus is within Singaporean law, then we know what the restrictions are already. Same-same, no difference from any other authoritarian campuses in Singapore.

    Why did you bother even to write to WSJ? There was nothing to correct, really, was there?

    • Pericles Lewis

      Dear John,

      Thanks for your comment. What I was trying to correct was the impression that Yale-NUS itself was imposing these constraints. Rather, these are constraints imposed by Singaporean law; although Yale-NUS students and faculty are subject to Singaporean law and governing Ministry of Education policies, the College itself is not imposing these constraints. Rather, we wish to encourage a lively political culture of open inquiry and public debate on campus.

      Pericles Lewis
      President, Yale-NUS College

  2. 1NT

    Haha I find this whole issue rather amusing.

    Dancing around the issue isn’t something I can exactly respect, especially when this is coming from the President of this institution.

    Things will change within the next twelve years though, even with the ban on the formation of political parties. As a Singaporean, I’m not against this because I’m relatively sure this is going to help in improving the plurality of Singapore’s political climate.

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