Tag Archives: Legal Insights

Implied Assertions – Racism in Singapore????

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As a law student, I am nothing but impressed by Singapore’s Policies on Minority Protection to Racism & Racial Discrimination. The complex Presidential Council for Minority Rights lead by our honorable President Nathan has done wonders. Furthermore, the Constitutional safeguards under Article 153 and Articlee 153A and the Government’s promise to all times to protect the political, economic, social and cultural interests of the Malays, Eurasians and other minorities domiciled in Singapore (Paragraph 8(8) of Heads of Agreement as appended to the Memorandum to Colonial Government, Report of the All-Party Constitutional Conference, 1956, David Marshall, Chief Minister) have ensured that a 1962 would never happen again.

I know what I am going to say now is controversial and could fall under the Sedition Act (Cap 290, 1985 Rev.Ed), s3. Furthermore, I totally agree and understand the concerns expressed by Richard Magnus in Public Prosecutor v Koh Song Huat Benjamin and Another Case [2005] SGDC 272 ;

The right to propagate an opinion on the Internet is not, and cannot, be an unfettered right. The right of one person’s freedom of expression must always be balanced by the right of another’s freedom from offence, and tampered by wider public interest considerations. It is only appropriate social behaviour, independent of any legal duty, of every Singapore citizen and resident to respect the other races in view of our multi-racial society.  Each individual living here irrespective of his racial origin owes it to himself and to the country to see that nothing is said or done which might incite the people and plunge the country into racial strife and violence

My intention is neither mala fide nor harmful to create racial strife and violence but merely an expression of assertions of racism present in Singapore for individuals like myself.

The individuals I have come across have only learn to tolerant minorities like myself. Acceptance and integration into their lives have NEVER crossed their minds. Maybe, if the present government had not been so stringent and effective on their racial harmony laws, this country may well have had several 1962 incidents to this day. Fortunately, the ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude has worked….. But unfortunately I feel that this would last only as loong as a government such as the present are able to effectively carry out these laws.

The people, I have met, dn’t call me a ‘black’ or ‘smelly’ or ‘funny accent’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ because they know the consequences of their words (which I would define as express racism). But, this hasn’t stopped them from implying these words via conduct. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ is soo true when it comes to these circumstances. For the record, my law friends and acquiesces are EXCEPTIONAL, the broad mindness of these individuals have given me a glimmer of hope that there are still good people in this country who can see past color.

Biz is a totally different playing field…. The attitude hasn’t changed since my matriculation in 2005. A faculty dominated by one race hasn’t made integration for minorities any easy. Furthermore, these students come from ‘lower ranked’ JCs making chinese their first language. I lost count the number of times I would be in a group discussion that would be in chinese or group lunches where I would laugh at chinese jokes just to fit in and not feel out of place. Or sit in lectures or tutorials which is filled – packed every SINGLE SEAT – except the 2-3 seats to the left and right of me. Or the empty seat next to me in the internal shuttle bus regardless of the distance or the people in the bus. Or is it the question ‘Which part of India are you from?’ – I can’t even recall if I ever run into a person when I asked him ‘Which part of China are you from?’. Think about??? Would you like,  as a respectable singaporean be asked that question. Or the security guard checking my matriculation cards for staying outdoors after 11pm (suspicious that I would steal, vandalise or moles someone) when he would just igorantly pass exchange students or chinese individuals. Yes… yes … when i conforted about this double standard, all he said was that most of the crimes are by minority indivudals. Whether that is true or not is of no relevance. All it says that people have a presumption I am always upto no good… I can go on and on and on and on…… the four years have been anything but easy…..Constantly, I have to prove myself….. to the people who are my friends and know me… they NO DOUBT respect me. Yet sadly, for the rest of them, saying I am from law or speaking (in an non-‘indian’ accent’) of my academic achievement are the only way to get respect. Respect which in the first place I deserve  since I am just flesh and blood just like them regardless of who my parents, my history or skin color.