Pink accused of failing the smell test

Writing on Facebook, playwright and poet Alfian Sa’at said of the gay-affirmative event Pink Dot, “like so many things in Singapore, [it] has ended up reproducing the power structures that it should aim to challenge.” He was referring to the way Pink Dot has written all over it the social ascendancy of the English-speaking ethnic-Chinese middle class.

He reported a comment from a friend: “Pink Dot is as much a celebration of the LGBT community to love as it is a display of the self-love of Chinese, middle-class, English-educated liberals. What is inclusive in the term ‘LGBT’ is problematised by the fact that what is supposed to stand for the queer community in Singapore is almost exclusively ‘CMEL’!”

The third annual Pink Dot was held last Saturday, 18 June 2011. Organisers said “over 10,000”  people attended, the largest gathering on Hong Lim Park since the Speakers’ Corner was inaugurated.

Alfian’s critique may well be spot on. But the implicit assumption behind such a view — that any social movement aimed at objective A must first satisfy the nose test for objective B — is highly problematic. Does one expect an animal rights group to satisfy class-equality standards among all its members, volunteers and supporters? Does one demand that an anti-abortion campaign lean over backwards to ensure gender equality?

That said, I should not misrepresent Alfian’s position. He is not demanding that Pink Dot should be different, at least not in so many words. As he has written, “I don’t deny or dismiss how meaningful [Pink Dot] might be to some people. It’s just that it has a different meaning for me,” and that was why he chose not to attend this year. Nor was he stopping others from attending either.

Nuanced differently is another criticism of his — that Pink Dot “comes across as anxious to colonise and co-opt all the streams that exist out there.” Here again, it’s somewhat more complex than that, and that’s why I think it is necessary for me to pen my thoughts.

* * * * *

A social movement ultimately hinges on one key issue. The supporters it attracts subscribe to the core idea, but beyond that, may not agree on anything else. Nor is participation usually made conditional upon subscription to additional beliefs. There is no test for eligibility outside of the movement’s key aim, and people self-select when they join.

It should hardly be surprising therefore that on other issues, participants bring with them their (differing) biases. Or that they tend to come from certain social strata. To expect a gay-affirmative movement to meet purity standards by other yardsticks — racial views, religious representativeness, age profile, etc — is plain unrealistic.

Where an indictment can be made is when a movement applies tests for exclusion unrelated to its key aim. Does a gay movement deliberately exclude people of a certain ethnicity from participation? Does a breast cancer campaign go out of its way to exclude unmarried adults? Does a hamster-lovers’ society turn away atheists? By no stretch of the imagination can such an indictment be made of the Pink Dot movement.

But if one says that they were negligent in not making efforts to ensure purity in all other regards, or in purging itself of the various biases that its participants bring in, I would say, that’s just not fair. It’s too tall an order and it’s not what the movement is about. Why should they expend precious energy and resources on that? Don’t forget, people didn’t join to have their minds about ethnicity, religion or vegetarianism changed. They joined to promote the primary cause.

It’s almost inevitable that social movements do not attract a representative cross-section of the population. Social aims are embedded  in certain worldviews and a movement’s supporters would disproportionately be drawn from among those who already subscribe to that worldview. Gay equality is very much an outgrowth of liberal philosophies, which at this point in history is largely anchored within Western civilisation. It doesn’t have to be. Ideas do not have skin colours, anymore than gunpowder, first invented by the Chinese, “belongs” to the Chinese, and that its use in the German army is somehow inauthentic. Nevertheless, it would be dishonest to deny that liberalism is most advanced in Western democracies and those Singaporeans who have picked up these ideas are mainly inspired by them. Mainly, not all. There is also a growing liberal tradition in Chinese intellectual thought.

While large numbers of Singaporeans are Western-acculturated to some degree, we are not all equally so. Some segments of our population are more so than others. Here again, it is hardly news to anyone that the middle-class, English-speaking Chinese and Indians lead the pack.

(At this point I need to make a digression, for I am concerned that some readers will take what I said above about how some Singaporeans are influenced by Western liberal philosophies, to then assert that they are somehow less authentic than Singaporeans more acculturated to ‘traditional’ Asian worldviews. As an extension of this, there will be some people who will then assert that homosexuality and the equal treatment of gay people is an ‘imported’ idea and therefore invalid. This is to completely miss my statement that ideas do not have skin colours. A ‘traditional’ Asian worldview is not any more authentic to us because of the colour of our skin than a liberal worldview. If the idea doesn’t suit us, it doesn’t suit us. If an idea invented by someone else works better for us, or strikes us as more advanced, rational, compassionate or just, it would be a form of essentialist thinking to stop ourselves from embracing it. Being gay-affirmative and having a liberal agenda is no more natural or unnatural than the opposite.)

Fighting for gay equality is one of those self-actualisations that Abraham Maslow theorised about at the top of his pyramind. Since people generally need the luxury of prior needs satisfied before they get involved in that, it should therefore be totally expected that the more privileged segments of our society are over-represented in the Pink Dot movement.

Actually, it’s not just Pink Dot. Look around at most civil society, non-profit groups that serve a wider cause (as opposed to clan associations or temple groups) and what you see is the same: Lots of English-speaking middle-class Chinese and Indians. You don’t see as many ethnic Chinese who are more comfortable in Chinese than in English. You next-to-never see any Indians who are more comfortable in Tamil than English. You don’t see many Malays either relative to the percentage of total population. In fact, one group that is way over-represented are the White Singaporeans — who are Permanent Residents if not citizens, but who see Singapore as their second home. The primary denominator is not ethnicity, it’s social class. And for liberal causes, the other chief denominator is the English language and Western acculturisation.

This unbalanced (if you will) mix inevitably brings with it the attitudes (and neglect) of social groups that constitute it; their strengths and their weaknesses too.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? It depends. One could argue that precisely because they are drawn disproportionately from the privileged sections of society, they punch above their weight. On the other hand, it can be unfortunate in that there can be an unintended marginalisation of those that do not quite fit the same social profile and who feel crowded out by the majority of the participants. Furthermore, every attempt by the movement to broaden its base is also seen as an attempt to co-opt and colonise other streams that might otherwise share the same social aim, but spring from different social groups.

In other words, all these tensions are understandable. Moreover, they can be found in every social movement. The important measure is whether they beget change. From the looks of it, Pink Dot is on its way.

With thanks to Dominic Chua for the photos.

On a separate note, see also The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Natural Selection and Evolution, with a Key to Many Complicating Factors. Scientifically illiterate persons need not read. Thanks to Kelly for the link.

48 Responses to “Pink accused of failing the smell test”

  1. 1 yuen 22 June 2011 at 17:37

    > reproducing the power structures that it should aim to challenge… ascendancy of the English-speaking ethnic-Chinese middle class…. Chinese, middle-class, English-educated liberals….

    isnt he misreading the situation a bit? among the CMELs, gays dont need to hide their orientations as much as among the other groups, and CMELs being more tolerant and socially active, are more likely to turn out at such events even if they are not gay themselves

    another point: I believe Christian fundamentalists in Singapore are also more likely to be CMELs, but I assume they are not well represented at Pink Dot; as for “reproducing the power structures”, I also doubt members of PAP are well represented there

  2. 2 ET 22 June 2011 at 17:53

    Thank you Yawning Bread for a good and interesting article. I agree with your general conclusions about the priorities of the event.

    I find the reported remarks by Alfian both wrong and hypocritical. Firstly, what evidence is there that the event was only attended by the type that his inverted snobbery rails against? In the videos I see all sorts of types attending, including muslim mothers in pink hijabs. The event clearly brings together people both straight and LGBT from diverse backgrounds. His remark is an assumption, based on his own prejudices. But even if his assumptions were true, your article deals with them succinctly.

    Secondly, as Alfian is a university-educated middle class poet and dramatist that writes very intellectual material primarily in the English language, his reported remarks do appear to me to be a teensy bit hypocritical. If he didn’t want to go along, fine, but there’s no need to dress it up to make it sound like a “politically correct” decision.To me it just sounds like he is prejudiced against those he perceived as likely to attend, but if he had attended he may have been pleasantly surprised and broadened his horizons.

  3. 3 blake 22 June 2011 at 18:58

    Honestly, Alfian appears to be the one practising discrimination here. The organizers of Pink Dot have not excluded him; instead, he has rejected Pink Dot because he deems its participants too “CMEL” for his tastes.

    So what if Pink Dot is primarily composed of CMEL? As you rightly pointed out, there are reasons why supporters of social and political causes like gay rights tend to be middle-class, educated liberals. It is not the result of any deliberate exclusion or selective targeting by the organizers.

    By excluding himself from Pink Dot, Alfian merely accentuates its lack of diversity. The proper thing to do is to claim the event for himself by attending Pink Dot and inviting all his non-Chinese, lower-class, uneducated and/or conservative friends. That way he can make the event more heterogeneous. .

  4. 4 sloo 22 June 2011 at 21:34

    Me thinks Alfian just loves how the sound of his intellectual cogs sound in public. This is really an instance of too much thought, too little instinct and (dare i say) too little emotion and empathy.

    Whatever make you happy and a better person to society works for me

  5. 7 Ken 22 June 2011 at 22:35

    Alex – as always, thank you for this critical, well-argued and thoughtful piece. Just one small observation I’d like to offer (not sure if it’s entirely relevant): I thought the crowd at this year’s Pink Dot was diverse enough, albeit disproportionately youthful.

  6. 8 Calculon 22 June 2011 at 23:26

    Being a robot, I find it very offensive that pink dot left us out too, all too often we are depicted as either mindless monstrosity on hell bend mission or have machine guns popping out of our breast, not true. And yes like any creation of human mind, robots can be gay too! (¬_¬)

    Alas, I don’t see a single robot in sight on the few snippets of photos, what’s going on?! where’s the support? Shame on us!

    Proud and out gay robot

  7. 9 Bryan Choong 23 June 2011 at 01:09

    If Alfian read many other online forums, he will realise that many non Chinese, non middle class, hardly English speaking LGBT individuals took part in PinkDot. And many “CMEL” actually see PinkDot not relevant to them.

    I spent some time to reflect on one of his entries on PinkDot wall, he spoke about his observations that many LGBT communities groups are led by Chinese. I did not disagree with this and I think Alex has explained some of the reasons well in this article.

    Here’s my two thoughts:
    Have we been brainwashed by years of national education that Singaporeans need to maintain racial balance in everything artificially like housing quota or GRC system, if not our society will fail. Can we not trust our fellow Singaporeans to be able to make good decisions that can benefit a larger population regardless of race?

    My second thought probably contradicts my first one. After working with the communities for a short time, I realised that no matter how thoughtful or cultural sensitive I can be, there will be differences within the LGBT communities that I cannot understand, and this is not limited to race but also gender, gender identity, age and religion. I fully respect and appreciate these differences. And it is really none of my business to initiate something as much as I want to do.

    This is where, I hope more Malay LGBT can read Alfian’s comments and mobilise themselves to decide what they should do for the Malay LGBT communities, or not do anything at all.

  8. 10 Desiree 23 June 2011 at 08:29

    Alex, I’m a long-time fan of your posts, and admire them greatly.

    I do disagree slightly though: I think Alfian has a point, though I do not condone some things he’s said, which are racist against Chinese and really quite uncalled for. It is not that we have a duty to ensure class equality across all attendants, but we should recognise that the dominance of one particular group (a privileged one at that!) is problematic. The “crowding out” of other groups can be pretty damning; the socialising and camaraderie that presumably characterises Pink Dot takes on a particular form with specific assumptions/language about what being gay is, what gay communities are like, what gay activism is, etc. And though I am no doubt myself a CMEL, I am painfully familiar with the ignorance and unintended hostility towards other modes of living that CMELs so often display.

    I think this ties in nicely with a post you made earlier about Pink Dot’s limitations: CMELs are given to a brand of feel-good activism that blatantly ignores the fact it is constructed and dictated in accordance with their aims, and theirs alone. They are content as long as these are satisfied, but I feel that is insufficient; to be successful a cause *needs* to address not just its failure to attract minority groups, but why they might feel excluded, overlooked and voiceless.

    That being said, if it is true that Pink Dot was in fact diverse (I am overseas and did not attend personally), then I agree with blake that there’s some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy at work here.

    • 11 yawningbread 23 June 2011 at 11:07

      Was it in fact diverse? I leave that as an open question, but I embedded the video so that readers can judge for themselves. That said, one must be careful how representative that embedded video is.

      • 12 Robox 23 June 2011 at 12:22

        YB, I think as far as attendees are concerned, it was probably as ethnically diverse as it can get, even if one ethnicity is still disproportionately present. Besides, no one is trying to control who can attend.

        However, as always, ethnic diversity or the lack of it becomes a problematic issue when we consider what the oragnizers – in this case – are in control of.

    • 13 Ken 23 June 2011 at 12:06

      Desiree – you bring up several pertinent points I agree with. I think it’s also important to note that whether or not the participants at Pink Dot eventually were diverse is inmaterial; I believe that Alfian’s criticism is levelled at the way in which Pink Dot was conceptualised, organised and led as a movement. That people from all “walks of life” attended the event could well have been incidental.

      More generally, Alex, I want to speak out against the this CMEL identity. Like all labels (YUPPIE, WASP, SPG, Heartlander etc), it is problematic; moreover, it sounds horrible when pronounced ‘smell’. Let’s stop using it, and let’s stop propagating it before it gains further currency.

      • 14 Desiree 23 June 2011 at 16:27

        Ken, I agree. Diversity in numbers does not preclude the presence of unequal power structures at work, though it’s a good start.

        I’m curious about your issues with the CMEL identity (granted. it does sound horrible when read out). It’s certainly problematic because it overlooks important differences within the group as a whole by assuming homogeneity, and essentialised identities are in general dangerous because they give way to imaginary dichotomies. Still, if not taken at face value, I think it can provide a useful reference point when talking about Singaporean society (as WASP did for the US). I find it less bothersome than “heartlander”, the difference being that “heartlander” is a term condescendingly imposed by the privileged.

    • 15 Ken 24 June 2011 at 00:14

      Desiree – I agree that the label is a useful reference point. My problem with it is precisely the issue you pointed out with respect to “heartlander”: a term condescendingly imposed by the privileged. CMEL could easily be a term imposed by self-perceived CMELs to dissociate themselves from the rest of the population. There is also a danger in it becoming an aspirational label, something that insidiously propagates the kind of socio-cultural hierarchies which I hope we as a society can work against.

  9. 16 James 23 June 2011 at 08:54

    I wanted to attend but I am a foreigner and didn’t want to get arrested since I heard only Singaporeans can participate. If you come to my country, we welcome foreigners, including Singaporeans, to participate in all public events and would never consider subjecting foreigners to unequal treatment under the law. The real discrimination at pink dot is the kind written into the law. They should hang a big sign saying “WE LOVE GLBT BUT FOREIGNERS NOT ALLOWED GO HOME” and the unwelcome feeling not from the organizers but from the law itself. Sad.

  10. 17 Poker Player 23 June 2011 at 11:26

    For readers (like me) who are sympathetic but have little (none actually) contact with gay activism, can someone enlighten us if the CMEL referred to here (those at pink) are mostly GLBT or strait?

    The reason for asking is some puzzlement. Hongkong and Taiwan are CMCL (the C replaces the E) and they are in advance of us. I would think that our CMEL (straits) are the ones holding us backing given the percentage of evangelicals.

    • 18 Poker Player 23 June 2011 at 11:32

      BTW I am not sure what “liberal” means in Singapore. There are many people with progressive views on everything except homosexuality – there their logic (the reason for their progressive views in other areas) is suspended.

      • 19 yuen 23 June 2011 at 12:58

        “liberal” means less government control, so here it implies “anti PAP” since the party believes in tight control, mainly to maximize the government’s freedom to make economic decisions, to the extent of saying that if more than a handful of opposition MPs get elected, then the government would be too busy making political argumentations and would get distracted from economic issues

        the middle class usually want less control – they have the money to enjoy some free choices, and the education to want to voice opinions; the lower class are not as inclined this way, but find more grievance in not being able to get more help from the government; the wealthy are the most ambivalent – they prefer to have less regulation on their business decisions, but want the government to defend them against demands from below

      • 20 Desiree 23 June 2011 at 16:32

        Good point. Breaking Singaporean views down into “liberal” vs “conservative” would be insufficient because it seeks to imitate political categorisations in other countries, when our climate is, for a number of reasons, quite unique.

      • 21 yawningbread 23 June 2011 at 17:14

        Is that what ‘liberal’ means even in Singapore? Are Singaporeans so insular that they give words their own parochial meanings?

  11. 22 The 23 June 2011 at 13:56

    “Pink Dot is as much a celebration of the LGBT community to love as it is a display of the self-love of Chinese, middle-class, English-educated liberals. What is inclusive in the term ‘LGBT’ is problematised by the fact that what is supposed to stand for the queer community in Singapore is almost exclusively ‘CMEL’!”

    Given Singapore’s demographic structure, almost any issue/cause not race-related or culture-related will inevitably attract largely CMELs. By sheer numbers, the majority will be C. By inclination, their relative wherewithal and available spare time, chances are that the participants will be M. Again, given the fact that we don’t really have vernacular education any more, the participants will be mostly E. And those who are predisposed to champion such causes, almost by definition, will be Ls.

  12. 23 jaime 23 June 2011 at 14:39

    alfian went on to unfriend everyone on his fb friend list who has a pink dot button on their profile pix. i was one of them.

    • 24 Anonymous 23 June 2011 at 18:29

      that is amazingly petty and lame. Alfian may have let the enfant Terrible label get to his big pretty head.

      I only heard of this after the hoo haa passed.

      i am disappointed he has not allowed the glbt and its allies to win real legal reforms before starting on internal bickering.

  13. 25 jwoo 23 June 2011 at 14:49

    I went to Pink Dot with my partner because I could associate with its cause and NOT because I’m a Chinese, Middle-class, English-educated Liberal although I happened to be one. And, by no means, was I ‘targeted’ by the organiser to attend.

    Honestly, with the advent of social media and its viral nature, its hard to believe one ‘group’ possesses more info than others. At the end of the day, its up to the individual to act on the information.

    Besides, I thought it was quite a good mix of crowd – including straight siblings and parents supporting their gay sibling/child respectively.

  14. 26 Disco Ecstasy 23 June 2011 at 15:36

    I have a feeling that Alfian always has a chip on his shoulders about the Chinese supremacy in Singapore.

    What he may not realise is that according to Singapore’s demographics, 74.1% of our population is Chinese, followed by 13.4% Malays, 9.2% Indians and 3.3% others…

    Not taking into account other factors such as how liberal / accepting certain races are to GLBT causes, or other social indicators of Singapore, just merely by racial demographics alone, we will naturally see a larger turnout of Chinese than any other races at Pink Dot!

    • 27 Ken 24 June 2011 at 00:20

      Well, the issue of Chinese supremacy in Singapore is a very real and problematic issue; and I fully understand why anyone would react against it. I therefore wouldn’t call it a chip on Alfian’s shoulder. The problem at hand, I think, is how he chose to make an issue out of it against the context of Pink Dot: this was an unwise move on his part.

      • 28 Disco Ecstasy 25 June 2011 at 09:51

        The issue of Chinese supremacy in Singapore stems from the government’s advocacy of meritocracy exacerbated by the uneven racial distribution in Singapore to our favour.

        So, yes it is an issue, but this is a situation that happened not because we are racist, but because of country policies. 不是我们的错, 是社会的错!

        But back to Alfian.

        In his Facebook rants, he wrote about “Queer Chinese people have always been more racist than their straight counterparts”, while in the same breath accusing Pink Dot of being a “display of the self-love of Chinese, middle-class, English-educated liberals”.

        How I see it, perhaps he has directed his angst in the wrong direction. But that’s just my conjecture. Perhaps why he felt pissed as to why Pink Dot is so over-represented and attended by “CMEL”, is really because of the issue I wrote above – Chinese supremacy stemming from meritocracy & unequal racial distribution to our favour.

        Racism has nothing to do with it. So as to why he is also making remarks like “Queer Chinese people have always been more racist than their straight counterparts” is at best misguided.

      • 29 Bryan Choong 25 June 2011 at 11:19

        I do not think Alfian had this emotional outburst because of PinkDot alone, to believe that he is only acting like this because of an isolated incident is denying that we actually do have social issues within the LGBT communities, though it is not over boiling yet. Here I agreed with Ken that his way of voicing his anger is unwise, and in my opinion distasteful, because there are better platforms, if not we can create.

        Back to the topic whether gay men have been racist. Let’s make it clear that being racist has nothing to do whether one is interested in romantic or sexual relationship with another person of a different race, that’s another story. Whether you like it or not, racism prevailed in all societies, only in some societies are more tolerant and that is not acceptance or non racist.

        There are two ways to look at racism within sexual minorities population:

        a. A dominating racial group within the sexual minorities inherited the belief of racial supremacy from its own society and imposed it onto the other sexual minorities, consciously and unconsciously. It is like straight people with heterosexist belief imposed their ideas that being gay is weaker, pitiful, incomplete and regrettable onto a LGBT person, no matter how well adjusted or accomplished the LGBT person. How many of us have wonderful bosses who have high regard of our work performance but in the same tone, will also say “If only you could marry a wonderful woman/man and have a great family” Heterosexism is usually unconscious and subtle even among the most accepting straight people.

        Any racial minority within sexual minorities know the challenges of overcoming double stigma. Place yourself in a Western society, you will feel the same way. Your sensitivity will be heightened, you either move to make your presence felt or withdraw into isolation each time you felt you are not included. It gets even more frustrating if you are feeling that you are working alone against your own race’s cultural, societal and religious norms. I am a atheist so no matter how much I read about Islam or other religions, it is different from living it. Not only we are dealing with racism, we are also dealing with biases against transgender, mature LGBT population, bisexual and gender.

        b. A person who is still on his/her journey of accepting himself/herself, harbouring different level of internalised homophobia. Each time we deal with a homophobic attitude whether it is a real or perceived one, we take on some anger. Many times we project this anger outward, towards people who are closer and sometimes weaker. Without the guidance of our own moral values, we returned back to our survivor instinct, we choose the weaker ones to bully, only because the weaker ones are smaller in number and often voiceless. Many psychotherapists will tell you that animal abusers or perpetrator of domestic violence are often victims of abuse themselves.

        Many of the readers will think we do not have a racism issue here simply because we are self-selected. We also self select the people we want to interact with online and offline. You just have to talk to some people in a gay chatroom who are Indian or Malay, and you will see how real is their feeling of being ostracised in this already tiny community.

        So let’s not be an ostrich and pretend we are fine. One only has to observe how limited this article is shared by LGBT people on Facebook to see how unprepared we are to deal with racism within our own communities. There are issues to be addressed, in a respectful manner.

  15. 30 ET 23 June 2011 at 19:29

    It’s strange. He was so in favour of the Pink Picnic, he wrote an infamous email to Ms.Thio, yet now that Pink Dot is so successful he turns on it. There’s no pleasing some folks.

    Clearly there was diversity at the event. But to increase it maybe next year’s promo could include a broader representation, or be a series of films aimed at different communities?

  16. 31 Mr Wagga Mongster 23 June 2011 at 23:40

    Perhaps the government should impose some racial quotas on Hong Lim park activities. Problem solved. Irony established.

    Or let’s not get our knickers too much in a bunch and forget what it means to be gay.

    • 32 Robox 24 June 2011 at 02:12

      You are triviliazing the issue of racism.

      • 33 Daniel Ho 26 June 2011 at 12:05

        Is this really a case of racism? I have a Malay friend who attended (I didn’t as I was overseas) and I asked him what this brouhaha was about. To paraphrase his response, it was basically “har?”

        Please explain to me how a free for all (minus foreigners for reasons of compliance with the establishment) event is racist by the simple fact that most people who attended were a certain “kind” of people.

  17. 34 Skye 24 June 2011 at 01:54

    My friends and I didn’t join Pink Dot to brandish any superiority, we joined because it was fun and we totally support the freedom to love. Skin colour was not on our mind. Was it supposed to be? Hmmm. Did not noticed at all. Did not even noticed if there were more of a certain race or what. Just damn excited there were so many people! =] But I guess that it could look different from another point of view. My view is not the truth, but we were just totally enjoying it. =] Just enjoy the pink dot….enjoy the moment. Be in love. =]

    • 35 Daniel Ho 26 June 2011 at 12:09

      I would like to second this comment. Some might think this to be airy fairy, but in a campaign to rally PLUs and win the hearts and minds of our fellow Singaporeans, feel good airy fairy is the best trajectory of engagement.

      Tinted glasses work both ways.

  18. 36 laïcité 24 June 2011 at 03:44

    I don’t know if this guy, Emeritus Robox, is Alfian’s pseudonym or something, given that they have very similar views and that Alfain is ER’s only facebook friend. Anyway, he posted things like:

    “I am accusing the Pink Dot oragnizers of racism.”

    While Alfian himself posted

    “Queer Chinese people have always been more racist than their straight counterparts, and they want to talk about inclusivity? Out of their behinds, I guess.”

    It makes me wonder if there is any truth behind such claims at all.

    There are obvious reasons why chinese people may be overrepresented at pink dot (both demographical and otherwise), and there are also obvious reason why the malays may be underrepresented (religion being one of them). So it strikes me as odd that a seemingly reasonable and eloquent person would make such comments unless he had personally felt excluded in some way.

    • 37 Robox 24 June 2011 at 12:04

      Yes, dear. Alfian and I are one and the same person. What a better way to delude yourself that attitudes of anti-racism belong very decidedly in the realm of eccentricities that it is not possible that more than one person could subscribe to them.

      It’s also yet another great way to trivialize racism.

    • 38 Sgporean 24 June 2011 at 12:43

      While Alfian himself posted

      “Queer Chinese people have always been more racist than their straight counterparts, and they want to talk about inclusivity? Out of their behinds, I guess.”

      Shocking insults! I hope CMEL is tolerance enough and will not insult back on race.

      Any different opinions on purposes/direction/forms of Pink Dots are expected and accepted but not racist insults. Obviously he has personal issue with the some people in the Pink Dot’s management. Otherwise he as a respected person would be made such a racist remark. He is blinded by his personal hatred for someone to see the diversity of the Pink Dot on that day.

      I just wonder if his above remark got to do with gay’s preference for sexual partner on race. Some gays accuse this preference as racism. Isn’t it sad?

    • 39 Disco Ecstasy 25 June 2011 at 09:58

      No. Emeritus Robox claims he is gay and of Indian decent. But Alfian is a Malay. So, taking these claims at face value, they are two different people with a common cause.

      But as I have said above in my earlier reply to this post: perception of Chinese Singaporeans being racist by other races could stem from the perception that the Chinese are leading the pack in terms of wealth, opportunities and social might in Singapore.

      However, that is due to (1) the advocacy of meritocracy in Singapore, and (2) unequal racial distribution to our favour.

      It has nothing to do with racism.

      • 40 Poker Player 25 June 2011 at 10:27

        ” being racist by other races could stem from the perception that the XXX are leading the pack in terms of wealth, opportunities and social might in YYYY.”

        Isn’t that the only kind of racism that matters? Whites don’t care if Northeastern Rural Mongolians despise them.

  19. 41 kenlough 24 June 2011 at 12:31

    I may be missing something here but nowhere do I see any specifics. Did Alfian anywhere say exactly what he wants to see that would satisfy him? A charge of racism is a vague one. What exactly did the Pink Dots organisers do wrong? It’s not quite fair to put that charge on people without detailing what they did wrong. In other contexts, we would call it a smear campaign.

    For comparison, let’s take gay activism – that too is born out of a feeling that society discriminates against homosexuals. But the campaign is not only a vague charge against heterosexism, there are also specific calls, such as repealing 377A, right to marriage, right to housing equality, freedom from censorship, etc.

    So far I haven’t heard any specific calls on Pink Dot. I think it is incumbent on critics to be specific, otherwise it’s less than fair.

  20. 42 Alf N. Spit 24 June 2011 at 18:05

    I’ve read his posts, and apart from a couple, he’s mostly just having a laugh winding people up with insults to shift them from love to anger. He is a great wit with an enormous brain and ego to match. Don’t take it so seriously folks!

  21. 43 Bernie 2 July 2011 at 18:01

    I went to Pink Dot with my girlfriend and friends for the third time this year and it was great! At the after Pink Dot drinks, we had one Muslim female with us. It was her first time at Pink Dot – a Burmese acquaintance had met her through Fridae and invited her.

    If Alfian felt Pink Dot had too few people like him there, he should have turned up himself. What’s that saying again? Be the Change you Want to See.
    Not bitter and lashing out.

  22. 44 Chris Tan 14 July 2011 at 15:44

    I highly suspect that Alfian’s motivation is not so much as opposing racism in general as opposing racism that doesn’t benefit him.

    Why do I say so? Some time back, I conversed with him in an online forum. He complained bitterly about racism among Chinese-Singaporeans (with LKY being the worst of the lot), and openly revealed how he wanted to migrate to Malaysia where he’d get a lot more respect.

    Now, I agree with Alfian’s assessment of LKY. There is residual bad blood from LKY’s complicated history with Malays and Malaysia, and Singapore’s present-day military and public housing policies reflect this racial dis-ease.

    My agreement stops here. I questioned Alfian as to his real motivations for migrating to Malaysia. I reminded him that if he was sick of racism, then Malaysian politics are even more openly racist than Singapore’s. Malay UMNO MPs can deny the contributions that generations of Chinese and Indians made to Malaysia by openly calling them “squatters”. Even at the height of his eugenic thinking in the 1980s, LKY never publicly said anything close.

    Alfian couldn’t reply, but he remains adamant today about migrating to Malaysia. This suggests that while he *is* aware of Malaysian racism, he’s still willing to move because he’s Malay and this racism benefits him. In Malaysia, he’ll be treated as a respected abang and he’ll not be rejected sexually because of his skin color. I can understand such recuperation in view of how culturally alienating Chinese-dominated Singapore can be to the Malays. If such recovery were indeed Alfian’s goal, then he should say so openly. He shouldn’t make snide remarks behind a liberal anti-racism front.

  23. 45 Chew Hong Jie 27 August 2011 at 16:06

    Dear Alex,

    Thank you so much for your work and your efforts in trying to educate the public on the homosexual individual.

    Keep it up!

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