Take my photo again, she said

The little old lady at her stall just outside Lavender station let me take her picture. I was interested in doing so because she sold something quite unique — passport covers. “I’ll let you have a copy,” I had told her in Chinese to persuade her to agree.

After snapping her, I showed her what the picture looked like from the camera’s display.

“It’s not nice,” she said. I thought she was being humbly self-deprecating, so I started to compliment her looks. She got my drift, but said, “Not so. That’s not the problem.”

“So what’s wrong with the picture?”

“Behind me is an ahnehneh,” she finally said, using a perjorative term for Indians. Indeed, in the background was another vendor, an Indian man. In her opinion, his presence spoilt her picture.

So I took another, carefully shifting my position so that he wouldn’t be in the background.

But the man was a vendor too, and he must have stationed himself there for years, like her. How is it his race is still such a big deal to her? And what about the daily parade of people of all nationalities arriving and departing from the Immigration and Customs Authority, a stone’s throw from her stall. Over the years, many of them, Indians included, would have bought something from her, wouldn’t they?

44 Responses to “Take my photo again, she said”


  1. 1 hansolo 25 June 2009 at 09:06

    It could be that she’s had a lot of unpleasant experiences with them in the past.

    • 2 Robox 26 June 2009 at 00:50

      To hansolo on 25 June 2009 at 09:06:

      Re: “It could be that she’s had a lot of unpleasant experiences with them in the past.”

      What kind of a daft statement is that?

      Not only have you jumped to conclusions with absolutely no supporting evidence about allegedly – or would that be “imagined” – bad experiences and with persons unconnected to the Indian individuals in the background, but you go further to give tacit approval for more racism against Indians.

      I would argue, as an Indian Singaporean, that WE experience far more unpleasant experiences with the Chinese than the other way around. It’s a combination of two factors: the unbridled racism in the Chinese population, and how it is further skewed by the Chinese outnumbering Indians by a factor of almost ten to one.

      Yet, do you think that an old Indian woman – just for the sake of all things being equal – would refuse a version of her picture because of the presence of Chinese individuals in the background?

      You are making a shabby excuse here for the continuation of the ill-treatment of Indians in Singapore by the Chinese; the most important consideration that the woman in question should have made is whether she has had bad experiences with THESE PARTICULAR INDIVIDUALS in the background, no matter what their race is.

      That is, if it was so important for her that persons whom she has had bad experiences with be not included in a picture of her.

      • 3 passerby 27 June 2009 at 13:10

        i think you are equally jumping to conclusions here. with just a short essay from yawning bread, you have already decided that the little old lady’s comment is necessarily ‘racism against Indians’. maybe she had many run-ins with that fellow vendor? the evidence, imo, is insufficient. if the little old lady had said something like, all indians are stupid and smelly, then you would have probably have a stronger case.

      • 4 Robox 27 June 2009 at 22:28

        What conclusions have I jumped to, passerby?

        The evidence is right there: she explicitly stated that she wanted her picture taken again because they were “anehneh” not because she had had a previous bad experience with the man.

        So what more evidence do you need?

        Not that this is an unusual experience for Indian Singaporeans either.

        And besides, why is that when a Chinese has a bad experience with an Indian – the first conclusion that honsolo jumped to – everyone also jumps to another conclusion that the fault MUST lie with the Indian?

        Both hansolo (presumably a Chinese) and I could also be said to have had a bad experience with each other here now.

        Who instigated this bad experience and whose fault is it?

      • 5 DOWNTHUNDER 29 June 2009 at 08:44

        excellent assessment Mr. ROBOX !

  2. 6 tk 25 June 2009 at 10:32

    this sort of behaviour pervades all levels of singapore society, all the way up to respectable, wealthy homeowners.

    an indian-american couple, friends of mine, were trying to rent a condo unit after the lease on their old place ran out. after weeks of looking at stupidly overpriced units, they were getting exasperated. finally they hit upon a suitable place and let their agent know they were keen to sign a lease.

    after a puzzling delay, the agent finally got back to them and said they wouldn’t be abe to lease the place after all. when pressed for a reason beyond “cannot, lah”, the agent (obviously embarrassed), told them the chinese owners wouldn’t lease to indians, even ones “masquerading as americans”.

    sometimes the veneer is very thin indeed.

  3. 7 Kim 25 June 2009 at 10:53

    We all are racists to a certain extent. Some might even call it a racial preference to somewhat tell themselves it isn’t racism (eg. I prefer Chinese features so I won’t date people of other races).

    It might be as harmless as a dirty look
    or as surreptitious as someone being ignored for a promotion. In an increasingly politically-correct world, racism is being driven deeper and deeper underground as our sense of restraint and respect for others is heightened.

    But for some purists, all signs of racism must be annihilated or they would not rest. That to me is impossible. However we can all keep our negativities to ourselves and not act out on these oft bigotry and ignorance-stemmed attitudes. We need to ensure the race being discriminated against does not suffer in any significant way.

    Sydney is a perfect example. As cosmopolitan as it is, Australians’ opinions of foreigners are equally hostile, albeit mostly toned down to (almost) imperceptible levels. But tiny things do bug me now and again (and sadly these are getting more frequent) and I cannot help but wonder if unfriendliness hurled towards me is due to my race/foreigner status or not. Australians fail to remember thay are not natives to the land and are too of immigrant-descent (worst still, convicts).

    This problem will never get solved. Just like GLBT people will forever be discriminated no matter what age we live in. We just need to make sure the minority does not get trampled on and that the majority be graceful enough to allow that.

    • 8 yawningbread 25 June 2009 at 11:18

      Kim, interesting that you said that. Australia is the only country where I’ve experienced racial abuse hurled at me, and on two different occasions too. Plus a few other occasions when I experienced very cold almost surly service in a few shops and restaurants. However in these instances I couldn’t be 100 percent sure if my race had anything to do with it.

    • 9 MichaelNg 25 June 2009 at 13:22

      Yeah, last time when i was working in sentosa. I met these group of Australian. When i spoke to them, they don’t even bother to care, i was treated like i don’t even exist. They just think too highly of themselves, as if they are the superior ones.

      And also, in singapore there seems to be a discrimination against the indians due to their body odour or something. I’ve heard alot of stories regarding boarding of trains and buses with the indian with regards to their smell.

      I once asked my friend what would it be like, and he asked me to try boarding a bus from little india during weekends night.
      He also said that the smell is really unbearable.

  4. 10 laïcité 25 June 2009 at 17:54

    @ Kim, I don’t think it is considered racist if you prefer Chinese features. Who you are attracted to is something that you cannot control.

    But I do think that racism is something that we can consciously control in ourselves. Everytime we hear generalizations such as “Chinese are greedy and proud”, “Malays are lazy”, “Indians are noisy” (This even extends to sexist or homophobic statements) we always have the option to believe these stereotypes, or take them with a pinch of salt, recognizing the fact that there are far too many differences on an individual level to accurately draw a conclusion about what someone is like based on their race or gender.

    @MichaelNg, I think the differences in smell relates more to diet than to any personal fault such as hygiene. I have even heard asians describe caucasian men as smelling slightly like soured milk because of their consumption of dairy products.

  5. 11 Kim 25 June 2009 at 18:37

    You really don’t know the extent of racism in Australia until you’ve lived here. I once thought there wasn’t much of that at all but now I know better. The irritating thing is that I can’t pinpoint if it is due to my race or not that I am treated differently and to make it worse, I think I would never know.

    This is why immigrant races tend to stick to their own kind because after a while everyone gives up as fighting against the majority is an uphill battle (the majority must relent first!)

    At the end of the day, it is all a vicious cycle with both sides drawing further and further away from each other. I guess my advice from my Singaporean friends before I left for Sydney was true after all — that regardless of my skill level, I will forever be a second class citizen in Australia so why not put up with all the other frustrations of living in Singapore and enjoy the first class citizen status.

    Well, we all know what choice I made in the end. And I know I must make the best out of it. One day I will get numb of it all but till then, I will just try to breathe deeply and think happy thoughts when I am given shit in this racist cosmopolitan city.

  6. 12 Rapha 25 June 2009 at 22:54

    Heh how about the huge National Day display board at Tampines Central. There are photos of cute fair looking kids…even an angmoh! Sad to say there was no dark skinned indian or malay. Whats wrong with the a dark colored skin?

    • 13 MichaelNg 26 June 2009 at 01:08

      They can’t get any for the photo shoot=P
      Btw, you will see them appearing soon in banner etc.
      Afterall, we’re a MULTI-RACIAL country.

  7. 14 DOWNTHUNDER 26 June 2009 at 05:28

    Everybody smells irrespective of whichever race one belongs to. Especially when one perspires after a hard days at work or games.
    I once new of a taxi driver who had a nice way of putting race and ordour in perspective………….
    When a Malay pax gets into his taxi, the taxi smells of sambal ikan, when a Chinese gets in he smells of pork,when an Indian gets in he smells of spices and curry,and when a Westerner gets in he smells of beef and sausages. Many of his pax do mask the ordour with perfume, which can irritate his sensetive nose and make the taxi driver uncomfortable. However he is happy smelling their Natural odour.
    We Aussies are easy going and non racist who tolerate all kinds of smell. We are racist to people who are real racist. Get a taste of your own silly practices mate!

    • 15 kz 26 June 2009 at 23:50

      Down under:
      Aussies are easy going for sure only until they got to know you as a person/friend. SOme of my best mates are Aussies.
      BUt it seems sometimes the whole nation have a chip in their shoulders, paradoxically hating /adoring the Americans and always insulting the Pommies And feeling inferior as well.
      Just look at the media coverage of CAthy Freeman vs Marie Jose Perec, and Kieren Perkins vs american swimmers in the 90s ( when i was living there)….. Don’t get me wrong. I love cathy and i love kieren perkins, but the way the press went at it was almost embarrassing. They verbally squashed/abused/hit/brought down the perceived apponents/rivals with such force and brute when these came against their own homegrown heroes. It was unbelieveable.

      IN general, the average rate of racial abuse hurled at me was once/a fortnight during my 5-year stay in Oz while getting my degree ( “Asian pig, go home!”– that was a common one — “Go home yellow fever”, the two finger V sign Aussies love to use, being ignored at restaurants when other AUssies who came late got served/seated first). People occasonally got out of their bus seat when I sat beside them or being refused a vacant seat occasionally by the seated person by them putting their belongings right across….. I really did’t think I smell bad and I look decent!!) It was quite an experience. The snubs from your own fellow undergrads…. occasionally even from your tutor/lecturer/library adminstrator. It took me almost 5 years to have some of them being comfortable with me. Though SOme of them never quite bother to talk to you even till the end. I think it took time for them to get familiar with some one who wasn;t one of them. I forgave that. Regardless, this was a great motivation to be the best in what i did and gaining the last laugh being the top graduate of the university.

      That said, I have learned to be more thick skinned and “accept” it. It isn’t my problem, but theirs. And after a while, the initial shock and hurt for being just who you are just faded to mild amusement.

      Yes Singapore chinese are racists. Xenophobia, prejudice against the unknown. I am chinese, and I frequently hear discussions of racist nature. very sad!

      good’day mate

  8. 16 Andre Siregar 26 June 2009 at 14:56

    Racism exists in Singapore because it’s tolerated. In apartment listings you can often see “No Indians” stated. In the US for example, where existence of KKK and Neo Nazi is protected by its constitution, you will never see “No Latinos” or “No Blacks.” Racism still exists in the US, but it’s discussed in the open. People talk about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Usually the situation improves with open discussion.

    You may say that racism is not a problem in Singapore, but it does exist. Will it become a problem later? Who knows. If it does, maybe then we’ll start talking about it.

    • 17 prettyplace 2 July 2009 at 00:49

      You are absolutly right…the best way to go about it is to talk and have discussions in the open….
      My friendship with people of different races have improved over the years…all thanks to such conversations…it has come to a level, where we joke about our own races…lightens you up, i guess.

      In Singapore the race card is played tactically for some peoples advantage unfortunatly.

  9. 18 gambit 27 June 2009 at 12:56

    racism, like any other form of discrimination, stems from being misinformed. she probably hails from a generation of highly limited prejudiced culture, but i can assure you that those born in this century have a lot more resources to work with. as a teacher over 20 years i’ve seen how students have changed in the way they see the world.

    ‘gay’ was such a taboo word back then but these days it has become as ordinary as ‘vegan’ or any other alternative ways of living. the only thing that could make us take steps back is sadly the irrational fervour from religious fundys. that’s when every semblance of logic takes a backseat.

    • 19 Benedict Jacob-Thambiah 29 June 2009 at 12:13

      Personally, I have never encountered a case of racism directed at me.

      People may say I smell (I don’t), they may say I am talkative (I am to a large extent), people may I am a cheat (I am not) and so on. So what?

      People who have already made up their minds about disliking someone based on their skin-tone or race are also most likely to be people who haven’t had the opportunities to interact with other people in positive and enabling environments. It is actually their loss and it should be pitied and not vilified.

      It’s the same attitude I have for myself. Recently, I visited an US based MNC for a meeting where I presumed everyone is English-educated and as such, English-speaking. However, before the meeting and during the breaks, they just chose to speak in their own language, forgetting that there are people who don’t understand their language in the room. And this was the Corporate Comms Team!

      Would that be racism? I am really not sure. I know for sure it’s unprofessional behaviour. I just refuse to believe its racism. Is it because I look at our society with rose-tinted lenses? Or is it because I have grown so accustomed to being comfortable with everyone that even this lack of professional behaviour is just mentally written off. Its like I recognise the deficit in proper behaviour but I choose not to be bothered or affected.

      In anycase, in defence of the passport-cover lady, I think we should try to help her and others like her gain a positive outlook in life. No point in being harsh with her or others. They need help.

  10. 20 Daniel 28 June 2009 at 23:12

    I am an American and I have been to Australia a few times. I am white, and I met a few surly people behind counters there too (like airline checkin people!)…you’ve brought up a good point though. Sometimes when we are minorities, we sometimes perceive slights against us to be due to racism when sometimes they are not. It’s always good to relax a bit.

  11. 21 Sandra 29 June 2009 at 12:39

    Hi MichaelNg…just as a matter of curiosity, have you smelt BO from other races or just Indians? Personal hygiene is not restricted to races. I think people have this misconceptions that “indians are smelly” because of their colour and their food. I’m Indian myself and although i do find some construction workers to have BO on the MRT and bus, I put it down to the fact they maybe don’t know about anti perspirant, or they can’t afford to buy them.

  12. 22 KS 'Kaz' Augustin 29 June 2009 at 13:16

    I had the advantage of being part of an experiment. It was actually my European husband who noticed the difference in how we were treated at Australian shops when (a) he went alone, and (b) when I went with him. When he was by himself, or with his mother, the staff were very pleasant and loved to stop and have a bit of a chat. This was even though my husband’s mother doesn’t speak English very well. When I was with him, at the very same shops, I got quite dismissive service, even though I speak English fluently with a slight North American accent. The skin’s the thing.

  13. 23 MichaelNg 29 June 2009 at 23:18

    Hi Sandra, regarding this issue i have argued with my friend about his views on indian and they being classified as smelly due to their race and color. I did encountered alot of people with BO and thats being plain normal considering the humid weather in singapore.However, i dont think people bother as they normally judge by their first impression or what they normally heard from others. An Example is black= dirty and smelly etc. We need some education to change all these people mindset or else racism will always be around.

  14. 25 tsu 30 June 2009 at 05:21

    The majority will never understand what it’s like to be in the minority until you actually become one.

    In a Chinese-majority Singapore, I understood it existed but I never felt fear for my safety or the daily grind of racist remarks until I moved to Cauasian-majority Melbourne. I don’t think anyone should talk about discrimination until they’ve actually experienced living with it, then perhaps they can see why the issue of race and discussing race is so important. Though we may be biologically engineered to embrace the familar, it doesn’t mean we should close ourselves off to any other groups. People are just people, skin or otherwise.

    That said, I would rather stay a second-class citizen in a foreign country than a second-class citizen in my home country. There’s nothing that makes you quite as bitter when you realise that the discrimination comes from being female and working in the arts industry.

  15. 26 Kim 30 June 2009 at 07:12

    Australians will fight till their death to deny that they are racists and it is not their fault because no one likes to be seen in a negative light. It is not only the Chinese who are preoccupied with the “face” issue but people of every race. It is just human nature.

    People sometimes counter oppression by turning the tables around and start to see the oppressors as the disadvantaged ones, eg. seeing them as victims of their own anger, hatred and ignorance. But is that really a better way to look at one’s oppressed life compared to just being plain angry with the oppressors (albeit in the process disdvantaging oneself with angst-induced stress)? I am not so sure myself.

    I think “love thy neighbour” is the way to go coupled with constant (and gentle) education. But people seldom have the patience nowadays especially when fighting against the majority as a minority is so taxing. As a result, minority/immigrant races stick with their own kind. How else did Chinatowns all over the world sprout? Although that may worsen the situation, it is the way things develop.

    And with regards to the issue of being overly sensitive just because I am a minority, I disagree with that. KS ‘Kaz’ Augustin’s experiment that she conducted and the countless tales my friends has inundated me with over the years all seem to tell me that we are certainly not being overly sensitive. Just like being gay, I feel that one cannot truly understand how it feels unless he or she walks in our shoes. Whilst it is practically impossible for straights to be gay for a day, it is not impossible for whites to suddenly be the minority. Just go and live in Japan and tell me what you have learnt in a year.

    Having experienced being a minority race certainly taught me a lesson of how majority races should behave. When I next go back to Singapore, I will definitely show more understanding and love towards other races. In the meantime, I guess I just have to develop really thick skin and learn to enjoy the feeling of numbness every time I see racist episodes against me in this foreign country.

  16. 27 Ian Koh 30 June 2009 at 10:27

    Our sense of smell can be peculiar. Some will find the smell of durian irresistable while others find it disgusting. It’s gut reflex.

    I find coconut oil particularly pungent even without stale sweat mixed into it. It’s unfortunate that unkind associations are made but if the durian smell is revolting to you, wouldn’t you be relieved to know that you will not be tormented by it throughout any of your MRT rides? I love durians but I’m still very conscious about bring them on taxis. I use private means of transport whenever I have access to them.

    Sometimes, racist attitudes could be kept in check by understanding and respecting sensitivities on both sides.

  17. 28 Seelan Palay 30 June 2009 at 15:39

    Up till I left secondary school, I’ve experienced several times that when the lights of the classroom were turned off and I was still in the room, my classmates would start saying, “Hey Seelan we can’t see you.” Chuckles would follow from all around.

    I was expected to find it funny, but I never did.

  18. 29 KAM 30 June 2009 at 20:46

    Why people cannot be racists?
    Racists do have the same rights as non-racists and they should be allowed to show their racism or biaseness towards people of a certain colour or ethnicity or religion background.

    If we are racist against racists, then we are no different from them.
    Let people do what they want. Even if they are racists.

    • 30 rs 30 June 2009 at 23:39

      Erm, I don’t think anyone is being racist against racists, or at least that’s not the correct word to use.

      Maybe you can let people do what they want, but if someone were to call my daughter “black monkey” everyday in class, I will do something about it.

      And just so that isn’t seen as an exaggeration, I’ll let everyone know that my cousin was in fact treated that way in school, leading to her having a bad sense of insecurity and lack of confidence in herself even now.

  19. 31 G1 30 June 2009 at 21:30

    Isn’t everyone just getting excited for nothing ? Maybe she just didn’t want anyone else in the picture- Chinese, Indian or whatever.

    • 32 rs 30 June 2009 at 23:41

      I would love to believe that your guess is more probable. But its probably not🙂

    • 33 daniel 16 July 2009 at 12:34

      G1: Given the meagre information, I’ll agree with you.
      Passport lady liked that her picture was taken.
      She didn’t like that there’s someone else in the picture.
      In this case, she sees an ‘ahnenek’, a label she has been using for years to refer to indians…
      We don’t know that she’s intolerant.
      Besides, I’d cut her some slack for her lack of education.
      Racist slurs, ignorantly uttered by educated people, people who should know better are a lot worse.

  20. 34 prettyplace 2 July 2009 at 00:31

    G1…that’s a good one…maybe you’re right

    & Kim…perhaps approaching Aussies and breaking the ice first would most certainly help…

    Thats what I used to hear..”everyone sticking to their own kind” from Aussies …about Asian students (mainly chinese)….

    However my friends and I, we had a ball…we had friends from Abroginals to Aussies, Tongans & Kiwis…we were invited to parties and funerals…

    Best way to go about, is to understand ‘the take it easy’ culture and explain the difference from where you come from…they’ll get it and much faster then you think…

    It is tough to live a life and get all the things the way you want it….if it doesn’t come out well…blame someone.
    The best and quickest option is race, depending who you are with.

    Its a racist culture….everyone gets it..from whites, blacks, yellow & brown….

    As long as it doesn’t come up to a disturbing level…I’m cool…

    • 35 D 2 July 2009 at 12:38

      Perhaps you are looking for a way to justify the offensive and racist emails many know you’ve been sending? Haha.

  21. 36 Anonymous 2 July 2009 at 03:35

    I have seen instances of unpleasantness towards people of other races in Australia though it was not directed at me.
    One was in a restaurant where our tour guide told the restaurant owners+waiters that we had in our midst a Muslim family that could not take pork and asked whether they could have an alternative menu for the Muslim family. But if the reaction of the restaurant members were not motivated by rascism, I do not know what are. They were very indignant that we should even make such request at all. It was as if we were attacking their Australian way of life. I do not know whether it was simply lack of flexibility in working approaches or simply a lassier-faire attitude towards life (I do not want to generalise lest I will be accused of rascism myself) or simply because we were Asians, there were occasions where the restaurants were crowded but since there was ample space in the restaurants and availability of extra tables and chairs, what was needed was just put an extra table in the space so that a few hungry customers could have a proper meals but there was ardent refusal on their part even when this was suggested to them and they did not even bother to give an explanation.
    Is rascism natural? To a certain extent, I suppose in the subtle form in that you prefer to mix with people of your own race. But is overt form of rascism avoidable? I seem to think so. In Europe, many shopkeepers just ignored Asians when they first came into their shops. But in the United States, most shopkeepers will greet you with a simple “How’s your day?” regardless of who you are. But is rascism absent from the United States. I do not think so. There was this waitress who simply ignored our calls irrespective how many times we called her. Were we simply too sensitive? No, I do not think so. She seemed to have no problems attending to calls made by customers of the white variety.

  22. 37 Kim 2 July 2009 at 07:04

    So prettyplace, are you saying that whenver majority and minority groups are at odds with each other, the minority group should always make the first reconciliatory move? I’ve always thought it’s the other way round. If we do not expect the majority to give in, then women and blacks would have never gotten their equal rights. And gays would forever be condemned to the underground.

    I know this sounds ideal and might not be achievable in practice but it should still be something we all strive towards. Maybe you think that my problem in Sydney is not as serious as the discrimination against women and blacks in the past…

    It also depends on your character. If you are an introvert, then Aussies might think that you are being aloof and not wanting to assimilate (they always jump to this conclusion/assumption right from the start — a mistake on their part).

    As for me, I just feel that Aussie culture is just not culture. Watching football? Drinking beer? Steak and mash? Do you call that culture? And to what extent should one subjugate one’s individualism, identity and traditional roots in an attempt to assimilate? You mentioned that Aussies can understand foreign culture well if you explained it to them. That is not my experience unfortuntely. Maybe I am just plain unlucky.

    Also, it is not a matter of blaming anyone. There is a difference between blame and trying to seek reason for things happening in your life. I cannot go about living without an explanation of what is happening. That is just me.

    Yes, I agree with you that as long as it doesn’t get to a disturbing level, we should all live and let live. But do you consider verbal abuse as “disturbing”? Some do. Minorities seldom (if at all) verbally abuse the majority in their faces but I cannot say the same vice versa. I know life is not fair but the onus should always be on the shoulders of the majority to make this world a better place.

    Anyway, it also depends on how much you want change at the end of the day. If you want it more than the other person then you should make the first move instead of him. For me, the effort to do so outweighs the benefits so I have consciously chosen to tolerate my current situation and try to get used to it… for now at least, till I cannot take it any more.

  23. 38 Monday Blue 2 July 2009 at 09:58

    Kim,

    “Racist treatment” like you’ve experienced is fairly common in Australia. Some people just feel migrants are taking their jobs or making “their place” different. Not what it used to be when everyone is White. Very often the “offender” himself is an earlier migrant or decendant of migrants. I have also encountered second/third generation Asian Australians making disparaging remarks about the more recent arrivals. Some people just can’t cope with changes. Don’t let these people get you down. There is more to life than worrying about other people’s prejudices.

    Btw, in Singapore these days, there are endless ranting about foreigners stealing jobs from locals. I guess in the end it’s the same everywhere.

  24. 39 yawningbread 2 July 2009 at 10:24

    I’m amazed at the number of comments this little Quick Write has received. However, the focus on Australia is rather unfortunate, though I myself contributed to it by mentioning among the earlier comments that I had personally experienced it there. I am under no illusion that racism is only in Australia. There’s probably spades of it in all other countries, it may just be that I have been lucky not to have encountered it in other places.

    I would have been happier if the same discussion about how Australians treated non-whites was reflected upon ourselves. How DO majority Singaporeans treat our own minorities, and the migrant workers in our midst? Are we any better than the much-castigated-here Australian?

    • 40 D 2 July 2009 at 12:40

      As much as there is racism in Australia, there is also an equally anti-racist sentiment.

      It would be interesting to know whether that is the same case in Singapore.

    • 41 DOWNTHUNDER 2 July 2009 at 14:09

      Yes! At least you are getting the off-track ones on track, mate!
      The subject matter being, Singapore and it’s people. Thanks and Gday!

  25. 42 Kim 2 July 2009 at 10:56

    To me, negative thoughts about minorities in Singapore are mainly trivial and never get cast into action eg. some races/foreigners are smelly or more lowly-educated or cheapskate, etc. I will never openly scold them or even give them dirty looks. The most I’d do would be to take another route to avoid the smell for example. But that might be because I was never in a position of authority. If I had the power, I wonder would these thoughts translate to action?

    I have never once worried that foreigners would steal our jobs because I am not very money-driven when it comes to employment. That is why I am willing to be paid at the same rate as the so-called imported (cheaper) talent (eg. in the engineering and IT industries). In this way, I am competing on an equal footing with them and it all boils down then to individual merit/talent. As a local, I’d think that all things being equal, I’d be favoured because I can blend in to the local-based company better (in the eyes of the bosses).

    I might even go as far as not wanting to date a certain race but I have never put that into practice perhaps because I was so desperately seeking love that I considered people of all races, nationalities, classes and education levels. But then again, the fact that whether this is by itself racist is debatable.

    I am a pacifist and would love to avoid conflict at all costs maybe because I know I am very ill-equipped when it comes to handling vicious people (and hence would want to avoid losing out to them in a “battle”). That is the main reason why I will never give life to my inner racist but I cannot say the same for many people. Thankfully Singapore doesn’t have a gun-control issue, otherwise racism would be given a whole new level of firepower.

    Of course in addition to all that, being gay, I know first-hand what discrimination is and that keeps my inner racist demons at bay as well.

    As a result of being a pacifist, I find it especially hard to turn a blind eye to racism, especially when I am the target. This might explain why I keep fuelling the Australian digression (it might also be me trying to find an avenue to vent).

    Bigotry begets bigotry. Let’s try to end bigotry in our home countries and then we would be in a better position to ask for equality when the tables are turned in foreign lands.


  1. 1 The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 30 Jun 2009 Trackback on 30 June 2009 at 12:08
  2. 2 The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 27 Trackback on 4 July 2009 at 11:37

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