This is not a note to ridicule Cherian George’s article publlished in the Straits Times last Sunday, 1st Apr, titled “No need to call police everytime”. In fact, Cherian wrote a brilliant and much needed article to state that civil mindedness is as important, if not more important than law enforcement. He reminded everyone of us that not only do we have to be tolerant, respect differences of others and take responsibility for our speech and actions BUT ALSO gently pressure others to do likewise and this does not necessarily involve calling the men in blue.
No need to call the police every time By Cherian George
Evidently, many netizens reserve their zero-tolerance stand against racism for cases where the perpetrators are foreigners. Singaporean-on-Singaporean racism is often met with ambivalence.
Citizens should do more to assert vigorously the norms of civility, tolerance and respect for diversity. This is a job for journalists, bloggers, parliamentarians, community leaders, activists and other opinion leaders.
Full article: http://ifonlysingaporeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-need-to-call-police-every-time.html
Discrimination, whether against a race or religion or a group of people, is discrimination. It reveals a human tendency to be intolerant towards people who are different from ourselves. Some conceive it as a notion in our brains, other act it out on their targeted group, such as not giving up the bus seat, filming their gay roommate making out or discriminatory hiring policies. In worse case scenarios, cumulative actions against a backdrop of worsening socio-economic conditions are known to have contributed to mass violence. However, not all forms of discrimination are legislated to be illegal under the law. In Singapore, for obvious reasons, race and religion are in our law books but discrimination against gays and foreigners are not so explicitly stated.
Nevertheless, I thought it would interesting to look at some of the recent cases of discrimination where police reports were made or not:
Nov 2011, YPAP member Jason Neo took a picture of Malay Muslim kindergarden children and branded them terrorists. Apparently, he had taken the picture quite some time ago and one his FB friends dug it up and circulated it again. POLICE REPORT MADE. BIG HOO HAA.
Also in Nov 2011, Christian Ratnam made inflammatory remarks on his FB about Islam. POLICE REPORT MADE. OK HOO HAA.
Again in Nov 2011 (men in blue working hard to earn their year end bonus ;), blogger Donaldson Tan posted a picture which depicted a pig sitting on top of the Kaba, the most holy Muslim structure in Mecca. POLICE REPORT MADE. BIG HOO HAA. Tan kinda also said that it was right (ie free speech) to post such material and nearly refused to take it down.
Sometime in late Jan, early Feb 2012. Former NMP Siew Kum Hong posted a picture depicting Jesus that said “F-ing lag, took 3 days to respawn”, he quickly removed it and apologised after some criticised it on his FB but also indirectly argued that his action were justifiable under free speech. NOT SURE if POLICE REPORT MADE. VERY VERY LITTLE HOO HAA.
Feb 2012, photos of UOB D&D leaked and it showed their staff belittling the Indian race by painting their face black. UOB issued qualified apology if public was offended. NO POLICE REPORT MADE. OK HOO HAA.
Feb 2012. Sun Xu called Singaporeans dogs. SUPER BIG HOO HAA but NO POLICE REPORT MADE. NUS fines him $3000, revoke his scholarship for the last semester and made him do community work amongst other things.
Mar 2012, Lai Shimun suggested a separate train carriage for Indians. A friend apparently saw the tweet, didn’t tell Miss Lai it was inappropriate but decided to leak it online so the mob could get started again. QUITE BIG HOO HAA. POLICE REPORT MADE. School (NYP I think?) said that they would investigate.
Mar 2012, Former WP and NSP politician, Abdul Salim Harun on his FB wall, calls PRCs locusts and asks for insecticide to spray them. NO POLICE REPORT MADE and ALMOST NO HOO HAA.
Mar-Apr 2012. Event organiser planned for a cheongster event where the publicity campaign carried photos of girls dressed as provocatively as nuns. Event eventually cancelled. BIG HOO HAA, POLICE REPORT MADE.
Mar-Apr 2012. Hardwarezone forummer “Horacio” made racists remarks against Malays but it seem to stay within HWZ and apparently there doesn’t seem to be a police report made. Some forummers also say there are many racists around just that this fella articulated it.
1. Sometimes police reports are a result of individuals exacting revenge on their erstwhile friends.
2. It was almost certain if you uttered discriminatory speech against foreigners, no one would make a police report, we have seen so many of those on the internet. Ranting against gays and lesbians is also most likely police report-free.
3. If you are popular enough online, or a big corporation, or an opposition politician, you might not get so easily slammed with a police report.
4. If you are trying to make money from religious controversy, you would most definitely get slammed with a police report. If you are linked with to PAPpies, get ready to delete your life online. ;p
5. After all the police reports, there doesn’t seem to be any updates on what the police are going to do as a standard procedure (I think both Jason and Donaldson were warned).
6. Ironically. Thus far, the only person who really received any punishment was Sun Xu where there wasn’t a police report made directly against his dog comment. (talk about karma huh)
All the above cases aren’t really malicious in intent. Most if not all were just joking, granted it wasn’t funny to others, or they were really angry and frustrated and social media was at their convenience to vent. And really, those who argue that such postings, as we have seen above, could set off mass mayhem should get their brains checked because it sounds like Singapore is filled with crazy dinosaurs waiting to act on their violent instinct.
If we really look at it, the laws are there to deal with people who really act out their discriminatory perceptions or incite mass hatred and violence, not so much minor utterances and slips of tongues. Singapore has come some way, not long way, but some way since independence and the early race riots. We cherish our communities more and understand that the destinies of different races and religions are inextricably linked together as nation.
But over the decade of immigration policy, it seems that the new flashpoint is between locals and foreigners. If that is so, why are we so nonchalant with “discriminatory-speech-actions” against foreigners? What are the real intentions of those who make nonchalant police reports? In knowing how to protect ourselves and asking the state to protect us (Singaporeans), when we do not show at least some semblance of equal treatment to them (foreigners), what does that speak of us and our society? We will reap what we sow.
p.s. I am not being pro-foreigner or pro-pap or anti-anything, I am just stating my plain unbranded views. The different levels of HOO HAA are my own experiences.