Racial slurs from foreigners – how ready is the Government to handle this?

“The former assistant director of NTUC’s Membership Partnership & Alliance, Amy Cheong, has been revealed to be a Singapore Permanent Resident holding an Australian citizenship.” (Asia One)

Prior to the now infamous incident where Ms Cheong made racist rants against the Malay community, I was talking to a friend about how things may turn out if foreigners – who themselves do not engender much love from Singaporeans – were to make racist remarks about any of our racial groups. It could potentially ignite a very serious storm indeed.

Xenophobia and racism make for a very troubling tinderbox.

So, when Amy Cheong’s rants happened, I – as with most people – thought she was a Singaporean – only to find out later that she is in fact not Singaporean. But by then, the storm had calmed down somewhat.

Still, this is something which the authorities should be mindful of.

There have already been skirmishes and even altercations between Singaporeans and foreigners. However, as far as I am aware, Amy Cheong is the first foreigner to make racist remarks about a Singaporean racial group. What is concerning is whether other foreigners share her same mentality about our races, especially the minority races.

It is something which we should pay attention to.

Will the authorities be willing to take such foreigners to task for racial slurs, as they have done to Singaporeans who behave such?

Amidst all this talk about integrating foreigners, we should not forget that integration is not just about integrating foreigners with Singaporeans – it is about integrating foreigners with the many aspects of being Singaporean, such as our cultural traditions, our religious practices, and the peculiarities or idiosyncrasies, if you like, of our different races too.

It is not just about tolerance. In fact, that would be the worst thing to encourage. Better to encourage interaction, promote understanding, and deep appreciation for one another.

Amy Cheong is a sign that integration is not an easy thing to do. What troubles me personally is the government, in recent weeks, insisting that we need even more people in Singapore, through immigration.

As with the casinos, where the government scrambled to install measures to prevent social fall-out from them after the casinos were operational, I wonder if our government is ready to handle the racial tensions and potential fall-outs from its extreme immigration policies.

Unlike the casinos, you cannot deal with racial problems by implementing an entrance fee, or a black list, after the fact.

And in recent years, the government has also reacted – rather than prevented or pre-empted – problems from its immigration policies. How sure are we then that it will be able to handle even more serious racial problems between foreigners and Singaporeans if they ever emerge, again?

This perhaps is the most important question arising from the Amy Cheong saga.


4 thoughts on “Racial slurs from foreigners – how ready is the Government to handle this?

  1. A good question Andrew but lets be honest, a silly rant on Facebook is hardly going to bring down the Government and set Singapore ablaze with rioting in the streets. I’m a PR here, married to a local woman, my son went to local school, I own my own company and employ Singaporeans. Yet, on a recent post on Today paper I am referred to as FT trash. I have been called FT trash several times previously in the last few years. (Not to my face but in other online postings). Ang Moh pig is another one.
    Does that constitute a racial slur? For me? I wasn’t bothered by it, it just meant my point in the argument had been won and name calling is the end result from someone who doesnt agree with my point of view.
    My home has been Singapore for 14 years but I lived in London for a while. You want to see racism? Live overseas in somewhere like the UK and see what racism really means. Walk around in London late at night and get called names and abused by gangs of youths, don’t expect to be offered jobs on the merits of your CV if you are of a certain race, get derogatory comments made about you at work because you are not the right skin colour or have a different accent. I have seen it myself and its not pretty. The British National Front party in the UK has recently anounced an upsurge in membership.
    Is the government ready to handle racism in Singapore? probably not but then again why would it be? Racism is at street level and in cyberspace.
    I asked this question of my wife’s family.(she is Singaporean Chinese) Her mother: how many Malay friends do you have? Real friends that is, whom you might invite to your home. The answer was none. Indian friends? none. Caucasian friends? none.
    Her Uncles? none.
    Her Aunties? none
    Her cousins?. none
    Sure they have work colleagues and neighbours but real friends?
    I don’t think that this is unusual nor does it indicate that there is a problem. it’s just the way it is.
    Ask that question of your own family and you may get a similar response.

    Look at Yahoo news, or Today/TNP comments on line any day of the week and check out how many times foreign workers are referred to at FT trash. you will be surprised at how many times and how often. Even a supposedly easy subject such as should we have bicyle lanes in Singapore drew many comments from Singaporeans which went beyond the topic: such as:

    “Can we also have separate Bike Lanes for Banglas, China and Indian Workers.? Most of them ride against the traffic flow, on pedestrian pavements and even spit while riding!”


    Does this constitute a racial slur? if so, what can the Government do about it?

    1. they can start by trying not to over-crowd the island … seriously, you squeeze so many people together and you expect everyone to smile at each other?

    2. That’s like saying if Singaporeans want to know what ‘real’ crime is, we should think of the robberies, burglaries and rape in other countries.

      By your own words, perhaps you should be happy you are merely called names and not actually being attacked for being a foreigner?

  2. While she may be a “foreigner”, she was originally from Malaysia which has a very similar cultural background as ours. Also do not forget, she was here since her early twenties for a length of no less than 10 years – time enough to get influenced by the local culture, be it positive or negative.

    Her background and experience is not so diverse as to enable us to classify her as someone who would not understand our culture. Instead, I only see it as the “passive racism” that we had ignored for so long and dismissed as being harmless finally coming to a head.

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