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Burning Questions July 10, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

Having not had the opportunity to peruse the ST, be it in the online or print version, I am shocked to see that such an incident of racism has actually taken place in public. What makes it interesting (though hardly surprising given the average Singaporean’s apathy or political castration or any other thing) is that a Eurasian was the only one who bothered to stand up to the Caucasian’s racist tirade. Gerald and Lucky Tan have both said their piece in this issue. Now its time for Ned to add his two percent worth.

If you check the link, you would find that the letter was an online letter and not published in print. This begets the question, on what basis did the ST editor decide to, for lack of a better word, “relegate” the letter to the online forum, given the fact that the reach of the online forum may not be as wide as that of the print forum.  I would think that this letter is of more public importance than those typical ST kind of complaints about service. This letter not only deals with the issue of racism but does touch on the current FT policy. In light of the government’s drive to have a population of 6.5 million this letter should act as a timely reminder that Singapore cannot just allow any Tom dick or harry to set up shop. I would be rather disgusted if these FTs are disrespectful and think the world of themselves.

Of course if such a letter gets in print then it fuels a discussion through normal channels on the whole FT issue. Given the fact that the government is all out to woo foreigners with WHP and what have you, the above will clearly not be of benefit. Thus it is probable that what has happened is a compromise. Then the editor can always say that yes, we did air your views but because of constraints we put it on the online forum. The reach of the letter is reduced, assuming that most of the ST readers read print rather than the online version.

And thus once again the ramifications of the open door FT policy are given short shrift. And to end of, I would like to venture several rhetorical questions,

 Why did the ST editor decide to publish the letter online rather than in print? Why did the ST deem this letter to be less of importance than some of the letters in print? Are they not sending the signal that such an incidence of racism is less importance than other issues?



1. YCK - July 10, 2007

I have always wondered about ST Forum selection criteria. Suppose they thought that racism is not an important issue. In this case they guaged the local sentiments well, as we could see from the apathy of people on the bus.

Suppose that they were just being careful. Why retort lest it get misconstrued as racism and be punished as such. So the racial harmony inculacation worked? But then apathy is not harmony.

2. Ian Timothy - July 11, 2007

There are many reasons why no one else said anything. One of them could be what is the point of saying anything. Will you change her mindset? Unlikely. Will you stop her? She will probably just go on and on. Much better to just let her be and not feed the fire.

There could also be another reason. You know something. I once made a remark to a bunch of my close friends. I told them “Guys, I think I’m a racist”. They were shocked. Then I said, “I hate Chinise”. And they started laughing. Cos I am a chinese. And they understood what I meant. Before I go on, I must qualify myself. I’m proud to be a Chinese and my remarks to my friends was a way for me to express the observation that I have about Singaporeans and that is a significant number of us ( or rather a significant number of people I have come across in my short life ) still have the colonial mentality even though we are an independent nation. I see it everywhere – how people defer to the Westerners as if they are so much better than us. They aren’t. But somehow I get the sense there is some sort of non-existent inferiority that we implicit acknowledge and we kinda look down on our own ethnicity. And that could be why no one spoke up. Not that she was right. But because she was a westerner who said it. It was like she had the right to say it to us. If it was an Indian, Malay or some other Asian who said it, the reaction might have been different.

Of course all these are theories. Who knows what was going on in the minds of the people present. But I think at the end of the day, the important thing is people can say what they want, and at times, we got to choose when it is appropriate to defend ourselves, and when we can let it pass, but the most important thing is we don’t see ourselves no up and we take care of our own so no one can justifiably fault us.

3. Ned Stark - July 11, 2007

Ian, that would depend on how one reads the situation. One can say that while it is undeniable that there is no way to change the situation, at the very least one should stand up. The above incident can be said to be a reflection of the typical Singaporean Pragmatism at work. But I agree that there is this submissive mentality. It need not be a Westerner, sometimes it could be a local big shot and everyone just goes on bowing and scraping. The worst is scraping and bowing to one’s betters and then lashing out at one’s “inferiors” but i digress. Thanks for visiting my humble blog.

Its a relief to see that your finally back again after not appearing for some time. I guess non of us will know what criteria ST forum uses as long as things remain the way they are. It may or may not be a bad thing depending on where you are coming from. But i beg to differ on the point on racial harmony. In fact I have always had this feeling that Singaporeans are kept in line more by the law then by any fact. But thats for another time.

4. Gerald - July 12, 2007

*Tsk* I’m surprised you’re asking why ST Forum editor didn’t publish it in the print edition. Cos if he did, it will inflame racial tensions and we’ll see people running amok and randomly killing ang mohs like they did during the Maria Hertogh riots in the 1950s. NEVER TAKE RACIAL HARMONY FOR GRANTED! Weren’t you paying attention during NE lessons? *Tsk* You should instead be applauding the ST Forum editor for having a clear grasp of our national interests and behaving responsibly. 😉

5. Ned Stark - July 12, 2007

Haha! Thats rather Lucky Tannish Gerald:D Actually my NE teachers were rather good, they were the ones who tried to get us to think critically rather than accept the National Scripture at face value.

6. YCK - July 13, 2007

Been busy lately. Shall be doing ICT fulfilling my duty to the nation 😉

I agree it is like trying to divine the inner workings of a black box. Hope to here your different view on the matter in the future 🙂

7. Ian - July 17, 2007

If all the foreigners in Singapore were to write letters to the newspaper about their racist experiences from singaporeans, you would need a whole new column.

8. Ned Stark - July 17, 2007

Well Ian the current forum posts leave much to be desired ( I like what singapore angle says about not posting forum style letters in SA) but I get your point.

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