“I used to believe that Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony. Based on recent events, I am not so sure anymore,” said Law and Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam in a Facebook post.
Singaporean Dave Parkash had a most unpleasant encounter in which he felt embarrassed, humiliated and hurt. The incident took place when he was with his girlfriend who was of Thai and Chinese heritage.
Dave was confronted by a man, also a Singaporean who told him that he should be dating someone of his own race.
In a gist, the man told Dave he was racist for dating a Chinese girl. He told Dave he should be proud of his own race and date someone of his own race, that an Indian dating a Chinese girl is preying on her.
He also declared that Dave’s girlfriend was a disgrace to her parents. He added that the girl was a disgrace to him too, as a Chinese.
You can watch the encounter here:
This incident is yet another manifestation of ugly racism in Singapore in recent days which have Indians on the receiving end.
Last month, a 55-year-old Indian woman who is a Singaporean was kicked in the chest and had a racial slur shouted at her for not wearing a mask when she was brisk walking. A 30-year-old man has been arrested in relation to this attack which took place near Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
In another incident, an Indian family was harassed at Pasir Ris Beach Park. A 47-year-old man had allegedly uttered offensive remarks towards this family and confronted a male member of the family for not wearing his mask. The man was heard shouting in a video, telling him not to “come and spread the virus”.
In this latest incident. Dave said, “I come from a mixed-race background and so is my gf. We both are mixed-race but we are proud to be Singaporeans. I feel we shouldn’t be publicly shamed just because of our skin colour.”
“Love is love. Love has no race, love has no religion. You and I should be able to love whoever we wanna love. Let’s not become like this man in the video,” he added.
How pervasive is the attitude exhibited by the man who confronted Dave?
In 2019, more than one in five citizen marriages are interethnic marriages. One would have thought that attitudes have changed but the ground reality appears to be quite different.
A story published by Coconots Singapore told a similar experience by another Indian. He had hopped into a cab after saying ‘goodbye’ to his Chinese fiance when the driver asked him a pointed question: “Why? Not enough Indian girls for you to date is it?” He was taken aback by the question and tried to explain that he fell in love with his fiance not because she was Chinese but as a person.
Which direction are we heading?
Law and Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam described the latest incident as ‘worrying’.
“It seems like more people are finding it acceptable, to make ‘in your face’ racist statements – openly. And some try to explain away, each time something like this happens. Quite unacceptable, very worrying,” he said. “I used to believe that Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony. Based on recent events, I am not so sure anymore,” he added.
Indeed, some have tried to explain their racism. We have seen that happen more than once. Racism, in fact, has been on the rise often with the CECA as the central focus.
There were people genuinely concerned about their jobs and the competition. Unfortunately, there were also politicians and political parties quick to jump in and exploit people’s insecurity and anxieties with lies and falsehoods, setting people down the wrong path. Fear got swept up and turned into a rant against Indians. Some use the CECA to justify it and kept up the racism.
To deal with racism, we need to recognise it for what it is and not give any excuse for it. It may never be possible to completely erase racism, which is why our multiracialism and multiculturalism is always work-in-progress. But we have to put in the effort or we will lose what we have so diligently and painstakingly built up over the years.
LET US SPREAD LOVE AND NOT HATE AND MAY THIS MESSAGE EDUCATE.