(This event is organised by MEI’s Transsystemic Research Cluster, as part of its monthly internal seminar series.)
Many modern states regulate religion. While the degree and nature of regulation tends to depend on the state’s precise constitutional relationship with religion, as well as other factors such as religious demographics and ideologies, regulation is a reality in modern states. This paper examines the regulatory modes and strategies employed to seek to influence and alter the behavior of its religious constituents in order to achieve the state’s desired outcome. The analysis takes place against the background of Singapore’s constitutional arrangement where the state proclaims to be secular but also incorporates religion within its institutional structure. While Singapore is a multireligious state and its regulatory framework purports to apply equally to all religions, I will focus on the state’s regulatory relationship with its Islamic minority. I argue that Islam is subject to an expanded regulatory space because of its status as the religion professed by almost all Malays, who are considered to be the indigenous community of Singapore. This however results in an ambivalent relationship with the state as Muslim adherents and Islamic activities are also subject to greater scrutiny. This article examines the broad regulatory framework applied to Islam in Singapore, the extent to which it accommodates the aspirations of Muslims in the country, and analyzes the resulting anxieties and ambivalences resulting from this regulatory relationship.
About the Speaker
Jaclyn L. Neo (J.S.D. (Yale); LL.M. (Yale), LL.B. (Hons) (NUS)) is an Assistant Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore (NUS). She specializes in constitutional law, focusing on minorities and religion. She is a recipient of two graduate scholarships from NUS under which she completed her Masters of Law (LL.M.) and Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) at Yale Law School. Jaclyn has published in leading journals in her field such as the International Journal of Constitutional Law (I-CON), Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Human Rights Quarterly, and the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies. Her article on domestic incorporation of international human rights law in a dualist state won the Asian Yearbook of International Law’s DILA International Law Prize. Jaclyn is an Executive Committee member of the NUS Centre for Asian Legal Studies and was also recently appointed to the editorial board of the Asian Journal of Comparative Law and the Asian Yearbook of International Law. Since 2015, Jaclyn has been a consultant with WongPartnership, one of the top law firms in Singapore.