Scientific Research in the Tropics
The Case of Tai Pucam in Singapore
George Radics and Vineeta Sinha
During the colonial period, the Straits Settlements government formalised through law the declaration of public holidays marking religious festivals for the different communities. This practice was continued by the post-colonial state, apportioning public holidays “equally” amongst its citizenry. Adopting a historical perspective, this paper theorises the Singapore state’s allocation of public holidays for its citizens with a specific focus on the Singaporean Hindu community. The paper traces the journey of Tai Pucam as a declared public holiday in colonial Singapore to the 1950s when the Hindu community had two gazetted public holidays to 1968 when Tai Pucam was removed from the list of public holidays, a situation which persists into the present. The “making and unmaking of Tai Pucam as a public holiday” remains a controversial issue for Singaporean Hindus who express unhappiness over the fact that their religious community is granted only one religious holiday, when the norm in Singapore is such that each ethnic community has two holidays. This inequality is cited by Hindus and Indians in Singapore as a discriminatory practice. In 2015, a recent case, Vijaya Kumar s/o Rajendran and Others v. Attorney General, the controversial ban on musical instruments during a Tai Pucam celebration triggered yet again the sensitive issue of Tai Pucam as a “non holiday”.
Yogaananthan S/O Theva
Asian Trajectories and the Salience of Judicial Reform in Myanmar
This article takes a long look at the law and development movement and its attempts to entrench the rule of law in developing countries in Asia via the means of legal technical assistance (LTA) designed to reform judiciaries and judicial bodies. It does so with special reference to Myanmar, being the latest instance of LTA in Asia. Currently there are more than 30 organisations working directly on rule of law LTA in Myanmar. Such efforts ought to represent the state of the art after half a century of LTA. The article looks at the trajectory of law and development since the 1960s, noting that the phases of law and development have led us through inaugural, critical, revivalist “moments” to a “post-moment” that appears to be pluralistic, and contextually nuanced. It notes that judicial reform has always featured in LTA through all of these “moments”, and discusses whether or in what circumstances judicial reform is the most desirable or justifiably prioritised approach to rule of law LTA. It concludes that in the current phase of law and development too much emphasis is placed on judicial reform, explaining why this is so and why other approaches could be more profitable. The argument leads to a conclusion that we might now usefully identify a “Burmese” moment in law and development—one in which we realise that one size will never fit all cases, that law and development is multi-faceted and needs to be broken down into distinct modes of operation. In this dispensation, the opportunity is offered to secure real and ongoing gains in rule of law technology.