My fellow Singaporeans… especially Mr Sivaraj Pragasm

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If you look at my profile, it’s stated clearly that I’m a Chinese Singaporean. Since this open letter is written by an Indian Singaporean addressed to Chinese Singaporeans, I’m well qualified to comment.

I’ve left some comments on the author’s FB. I’ve invited the author to read my blog with at least three or more articles regarding Malay and Indian topics. None of them are offensive or racist in nature. Some of my best friends are Indians, Malays and Sikhs. I’ve even written that since Malay is our National Language, we should promote it as a non-exam subject in school.

I wish to say that the open letter is written in a rather witty way with no intent to stir up racial hatred. It attempts to point out the helplessness faced by the minority races in Singapore. I can understand the author’s resignation to some of the racist jokes directed on them quoted by the author using that retard university student as an example. What’s happening to our educated youngsters? It’s really bad taste to post such jokes on FB and circulate around the Internet even though we know such jokes have been around for a long time.

I just want to say that generally, we like to stereotype different races to their particular traits, habits or practices. Actually, they are quite harmless and not racist in nature.

In my previous life as a PO, I came across all races of Singaporeans on a daily basis. From my experience, the Indians like to drink and they become quite vocal after that. They often end up with disorderly behaviour charges. The highly educated are mostly lawyers. If we conduct road block on them especially when they are with Chinese girlfriends, they could be quite difficult to handle. They become extremely hyper sensitive whenever we stop them. They feel that we are targeting on them.

For the Malays, it’s usually drug related offences. It’s true that among the races, the Malays are quite high in number of DRC cases. They like to play guitar and gather around at void decks in the middle of the night leading to complaints of noise pollution by residents.

The Chinese on the other hand are notorious for gambling offences. Especially on weekends at hawker centres and coffee shops where they would congregate for horse betting. Their preoccupation with mahjong over the weekend right into the wee hours causes much complaint of noise pollution.

I must qualify that the above refers to the general perception of the different races in Sg. They are exceptions within the community of course.

We live in a multi-cultural society with three major races i.e. Chinese, Malays and Indians. They cannot be the same in terms of their unique characteristics and features. We must understand their differences to appreciate their diversity. By highlighting their differences, am I being a racist? On the contrary, it helps me to be more open minded when we interact.

It’s clearly stated in our constitution that all races are equal. We even have a presidential council protecting minority rights. The state protects and safeguards all the races’ rights. No race shall be victimized.

Nevertheless, as humans we are not perfect. We do have our own prejudices, bias and weaknesses. Those innate traits are manifested in our so called ‘racist’ jokes we share among ourselves privately. Even myself was guilty in my youth. We mature as we grow older. But to publicize ‘racist’ jokes on FB is rather unbecoming.

I hope I won’t be accused of being a ‘racist’. I am not and will never be. Notwithstanding our different races, we are all fellow Singaporeans.

Pls feel free to share your views and comments here.

Source

Sivaraj Pragasm’s Notes

Dear Singapore Chinese friends,

This letter may come as a surprise to you but don’t worry, we don’t mean any harm. You see, recently, thanks to the Internet, we have come across a lot of incidents where Chinese Singaporeans are caught making racially insensitive remarks to the Indians and Malays here. This letter is to let you know that it’s okay, we don’t mind.

You see, we grew up as minorities and being that way, we have already grown accustomed to the apu neh nehs and the mat bodoh jokes. Back when we were younger, our parents had already warned us about this. They told us that on paper, we are a multicultural society but deep down, some forms of racism still linger. We already know all that, we already got ourselves mentally prepared. So you don’t have to be guilty about it. But why am I telling you all this?

Let me cite the example of that SIM Student, Joshua. He was at some party in NUS, got himself pissed drunk and his friend thought it would be funny to let Joshua ramble on and on about the Indians and Malays and then upload it on Facebook. You see, there’s a saying that a person reveals his true colours when he is drunk. We all know deep down that Joshua represents a lot of fellow Singaporeans. We are also guilty of it, we have drunk Indians making fun of you guys all the time, the only reason why it’s not reported is because we are already the minority so it doesn’t stir up an issue as huge as yours, where you make fun of the minority.

You see, we all know everybody is racist. There’s really no need to flame Josh, we understand where he comes from and we understand what he did but seriously, life goes on. We have experienced much much worse incidents than this. Our Malay friends would know how it’s like to be labelled slow and stupid even though there are many Malay professionals who are much more successful and earning much higher than you are. Our Indian friends know what it’s like to be labelled dirty, smelly and full of cheats, we grew up on that mate. It’s nothing new for us already.

We know you secretly curse the old Malay lady walking really slowly in front of you, we know you secretly cover your nose when an Indian man stands beside you in the train, we know that when you are female, and when you turn 50, and an Indian guy gets into the lift with you, deep down you will have this sense of worry that he might reach out to grab your jade necklace and pinch your backside.

The reason why we don’t ever retaliate is simple. Because we find it extremely cute that now when there are so many new immigrants from China coming in, and they bring with them really bad social ettiquette like speaking loudly, spitting all over the place, etc. It just makes you look bad. Admit it, you absolutely HATE it when we mistake you for one of them. We know you despise them because they look down on you for not being Chinese enough. We find it cute because now, finally. You are starting to get a sense of what we have been living all our lives. That’s why we never do or say anything. I say, go on with your apu neh neh roti prata nasi ayam makchik tudung hari raya ketupat jokes. Some of them can be really funny, we admit but don’t worry, we won’t hold a grudge against you.

We have, for the past few generations co-existed peacefully and we will continue to do so because even after all this namecalling, we still love you and we know you guys love us too. So let’s keep this momentum going. We all definitely feel sorry for you, having to convince people half the time that you are Singaporean and not PRC, we understand your pain but we will still continue supporting you.

So don’t worry my Singaporean Chinese friends, life goes on.

Sincerely,

The “Other” races of Singapore.

Click to read my Malay colleague’s wedding.

Click to read about my Malay buddy.

Click to read South Indian Pongal Festival.

Click to read my favourite Indian banana leaf curry.

Click to read Spicy Curry Chicken recipe.

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About Alan Tang

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of SG. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share some of the interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes from my friends or observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting my blog.
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39 Responses to My fellow Singaporeans… especially Mr Sivaraj Pragasm

  1. Lover of All Races, Especially Human Ones says:

    His so-called open letter, not so cleverly disguised to appear harmless, is loaded with sarcasm and is quarrelsome. He’s telling ethnic Chinese “now you know how we minorities feel after all these years.” He only has himself and his kind to blame for the prejudices society has against them. He’s looking for a fight. I find the tone incendiary, and designed to provoke. It is wily subterfuge. In the LKY-era, this guy would be locked away under ISA for inciting hatred among races. So, let’s stay on higher grounds and not succumbed to this troller; let’s not give him the fight he’s looking for. In fact, we should not dignify this person and his open letter by responding to him or attacking him. Let’s remain humane, and human, not like some subspecies or breed of homosapiens who may have emerged from jungles but whose brains are still rather underdeveloped and whose mouths are stuffed full of sour grapes they can hardly be understood when they open them to talk.

    • susan says:

      I agree. Let’s not fall into this letter writer’s trap.

    • kuaychap_kia says:

      NONSENSE.

      FOR THE RECORD, MY RACE IS CHINESE AND CITIZENSHIP IS SINGAPOREAN. NOT FROM CHINA.

      “He only has himself and his kind to blame for the prejudices society has against them”

      WHO is the SOCIETY? Majority race perhaps? Who created the PREJUDICES? Also the Majority?

      What do you mean by prejudices huh? Not all Chinese are smart also leh, can I be prejudicial to say how come some Chinese are stupid?

      PEOPLE, START SEARCHING YOUR HEART.

    • johntan@hotmail.com says:

      Exactly my sentiments when I read it
      Totally insincere. Generalizing all Chinese as racists and hitting them in an indirect way.

  2. I Love Singapore says:

    Hmmm… These so called “prejudices” have existed for decades and we Singaporean have taken it in our strides. Why bring it up now? Divide and conquer? So that Singaporeans will concentrate on this non-issue instead of uniting against FTs? Conspiracy theory.

  3. agongkia says:

    I am fortunate to be a minority among the majority because my IQ, EQ or whatever Q is below zero whereas the majority of you have good IQ.So I am a minority.

    I am fortunate to be born a minority because many are kind to give way to me and I enjoy more privileges that even those with IQ cannot see.I only need to be a bit smarter than those in my minority group and I can be a leader instead of the need of competing with the majority.
    I dun feel offended if everyone call me gongkia,sookookia or anything because I am not sensitive .
    When people call me gongkia,I am happy because they are willing to accept me as what I am so I am always a happy man.

    One last thing I can easily do but will not is to cry discrimination.I can even cause failure to the majority and no one will suspect me .
    Call me gongkia please becos I am proud of what I am.

    .

  4. Lover of All Races, Especially Human Ones says:

    kuaychap_kia, let me clarify. I was born and bred here; grandparents from China. When certain people exhibit certain behaviors repeatedly others form prejudices about them and yes there are stupid Chinese too.

    • kuaychap_kia says:

      Wah, some people’s definition of “prejudice” is super lah. Do they know what prejudice means or not? It means opinion formed not basing on reason. So, IF there is this prejudice that Indian got smell – Chinese don’t smell meh? If one doesn’t bath, REGARDLESS OF RACE, will smell. Geddit? So a Chinese take bus all the time, can I prejudice by saying that this person ‘cannot make it’, thus cannot afford to own a car?

      If prejudice is dependent something exhibited, how can one prove conclusively that ALL the people of a specific race exhibit the SAME CERTAIN BEHAVIOURS ALL THE TIME? Prejudice is prejudice! Stereotype is prejudice.

      Oh, got guarantee that only Chinese wash their clothing everyday using high quality detergent then they also put fabric softener and perfume meh? I say man, all the FCMG companies no need to pay $$$ for market survey liao, sure know that we Chinese are super clean people?

      OK almost lunch time liao – time for this Chinese Singaporean to eat curry. Eat shiok shiok the spices and curry; let the natural tropical weather make me sweat and stink like a oink oink. After eat so spicy food, go to toilet to offload but like typical Chinese people not hygienic mah, never use water to wash my buttock. What to do, I am a poor Chinese when some of my other rich Chinese friends can afford to install a bidet in their toilets. Aiyoh, I kena prejudiced for being low class and unclean because not enough money in bank account, what to do? Alan, can you please ask your dog to stop climbing on me and smelling my Chinese buttock or not? Pecah lobang liao lah. LANGGAR!

      • Kuaychap,
        Relax lah. It’s just a discussion pertaining to that so called “open letter!”
        Everyone is free to offer their views here lah.
        I think you shld go green. I’ve adopted a non-Chinese habit decades ago to wash my arse after shiting. It’s cleaner and natural just like eating with your right hand – also non-Chinese habit. We learn and adopt good practices from other races!
        We are blessed here to experience the different cultures and characteristics of other races. If its good, follow. I’m a practical person.

      • susan says:

        Kuaychap_kia completely missed the point. Not only that completely incapable of a mature discussion. Get a thesaurus! Then a life!

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  6. Cheng says:

    Here are my two cents –
    1) What are people’s definition of ‘racism’ vs ‘stereotyping’? Are there making a clear differentiation in their understanding? Or they are just loosely using it interchangeably?

    2) Our indian friend has no utter motives. It’s all good natured as in ‘brother, i understand you. chill’. I appreciate that he share his honest thoughts/views with us, and encourage our malay friend do the same too. In only way we can learn to understand each other better.

    3) His comment “We know you despise them because they look down on you for not being Chinese enough. …” is interesting. As a Singaporean Chinese, I have chinese name, chinese look, eat chinese food and my grandparents came from China. I don’t know how “more Chinese” I can get before people mistake me as non-chinese?! That’s like saying me saying to him “we know you despite them (new indians import from India) because they look down on you for not being indian enough..?!! This premise is wrong. Singaporean chinese does not despise them for their 5000 years of history because that 5000 years of chinese blood is also running in our blood. What we dislike is their way of living, lack of assimilation, and how they bring their uncivilized manners and behaviors into a graceful society that Singaporeans have carefully build and cultivated. Their old ways of living are threatening to upset our social fabric. That’s the despise, got nothing to do with ‘more or less chinese’ just because of a passport that we carry. He needs to understand that.

    4) Last but not least. We should call ourselves Singaporean Chinese, Singaporean Indian etc…instead of Chinese Singaporean. Our nationhood comes first before our race. That’s what matters most.

    • Agreed with your comment as per para 4. I’ll change that on my profile. Thks.

      • Me Singaporean! says:

        When I am oversea, I would just say that I am Singaporean. Only when people want to know more and are curious enough to ask during a conversation then only would I start telling them my old grandmother story about my race.

      • ilovesingapore says:

        Actually you should not. Chinese Singaporean defines a Singaporean by an ethnic trait, which means you have been identified as a Singaporean first and then further described as belonging particular subset. If you call yourself Singaporean Chinese, it would mean the opposite.

    • Give the guy the benefit of the doubt. It’s really a very “open” letter. No need to go hunting for sarcastic words, innuendoes etc.

  7. mere human says:

    My First loyalty is to my Origin.
    The Second is to the Family.
    Third is to the Clan and Friend.
    Then comes the Land of Abode.

    • If you don’t have land of abode, do you have your clan, family or origin? Think deeply on that order of priority.

      • mere human says:

        If I have no Origin,
        there will be no family.
        When there is no family,
        there will be no clan.
        So, if all the above do not exist.
        No abode is needed.

        • Cheng says:

          What do you define by origin? Race?
          If so, are you saying if there’s a war, you will first fight as a race (whatever it is) and lastly as a nation? Then you shouldn’t be in the army holding a country’s flag.

          • The Chinese description of country is a combination of “国家”. Without the guo, there will be no jia. The former comes first before the latter. There must some meaning in it.

          • Anonymous says:

            I never like fighting and never respect any army.

          • mere human says:

            And this is also reason why I find conscription very foul.

  8. I thinketh therefore I am! says:

    “….so many new immigrants from China coming in, and they bring with them really bad social ettiquette like speaking loudly, spitting all over the place, etc……”

    It is only human to always want to portray oneself as a victim. However, the above extract from Mr.Sivaraj Pragasm’s writing shows that he is also just as guilty of making racist remarks albeit unknowingly, I suppose. I would conclude from the above quote, he is saying that people from China are uncultured and barbaric.

    For me, it is not a race thing. It is a human thing. Regardless of race, it is human nature to like to generalise things and then grouped or categorised them from their own encounters and then make sweeping remarks on the group of people from their experiences with them. On the one hand, the person who makes a negative remark would assume that when one is an idiot then all those people belonging to the same group are all idiots too. While on the other hand, the receiver of such negative remark would then assume that all the people belonging to the same group as that person must have agreed and made with such remark also. Such logic is so wrong, isn’t it? Yet, we see quite often people getting upset and angry over such baseless sweeping remarks make on a particular group of people be it race, religion, gender, etcs.

    For people like Mr.Sivaraj Pragasm, I would just smile and walk away. There is simply no point engaging such people as I believe that we can never change the way how people choose to think.

    • Not only here in Sg, it’s everywhere in the world. Our human mind is programmed from birth a set of prejudice, bias and pride! We will to learn to live them. That’s why we need laws to control and curb these emotions in case they get out of control.

  9. dotseng says:

    “That’s why we need laws to control and curb these emotions in case they get out of control.”

    When did passing more laws really solve racism or communal infighting? If Shammugam wants me to give him examples of how useless laws are at tackling these deep rooted problems. He can come and make an appointment to see me. I will gladly give him a big file containing plenty of examples of why laws are useless. Besides, there are already enough laws coming out of the ears of the PAP. They dont need another law. The penal code is good enough. Is the PAP trying to create a police state?

    Neither does this incident justify the enactments of new laws. This is after all a problem as old as mankind itself. If PAP really want to solve this problem of racism. Maybe they should not have put the population on steroids in the first place.

    If they disagree with me and use this incident as a lame excuse to come out with more draconian laws. I and many will gladly fight them tooth and nail every inch of the way. Gladly.

    Darkness 2012

    • Darkness2012,
      I’m not suggesting new laws. The existing laws are good enough. For example, you can burn the “Koran” openly in US of A and get away with it. You try doing that here in Singapore. See what will happen to you? That’s what I meant lah! Hope you don’t misinterpret me.

  10. dotseng says:

    It’s coming lah Gintai. Otherwise why would Shammugam highlight such a trivail issue. Do we taxpayers pay the minister of law millions so that he can pontificate on the vapidness of life?

    I am sure even Mr Liao will agree with me on this. Am I right Mr Liao? BTW Mr Liao you have 12 hours.

    Darkness 2012

  11. dotseng says:

    What you all need to ask yourself is ONE simple question: what is the GOAL of Shammugam for highlighting this incident? Maybe he can come down here and give us all an answer. After all he is merely stating a fact of life. Not only for Singapore. But for every country on this planet. All of us have experienced this in one form or another. But we all accept it as part and parcel of life. As in every society there will always be a couple of nut cases who are out to stir up trouble.

    But how does this threaten the general good? Where is the clear and present danger that he is talking about? What is there to be wary about?

    If he has trouble tracing this guy. Just let me know. I can always drop a line to Mr Liao. I am sure Mr Liao will be happiest to earn his salary this month, instead of surfing the internet all day long and irritating bloggers like me.

    Am I right Mr Liao?

    Darkness 2012

    • Who is this enigmatic Mr Liao? I’m confused.
      Anyway, the powerful ISA is more than adequate to handle such issues. There is nothing to speculate beyond that. No other law or statute in this planet can beat this “all-in-law” from handling terrorism, subterfuge, racial riots, subversive elements to ordinary helpless workers’ strikes etc. That seems to be the panacea to all our social ills. No need other description.

  12. dotseng says:

    “Anyway, the powerful ISA is more than adequate to handle such issues.” Exactly Gintai, so as you can ALL very well see. WHERE exactly is the so called “real and present” threat? How can the fault lines even threaten to swallow us all up?

    What then is the big deal about ONE nut case ranting racial slurs? Tell me something, if you see two drunks fighting in a back alley over whether the world is flat or round. What sane and reasonable man would consider that a threat to society?

    As for Mr Liao. Who is he? Well let us just say, he is part of a game that’s not so far apart from Russian Roulette – that I am more than willing to play a round with. Only understand this Mr Liao. Understand this so very well. So that one day when the game is played to its logical end. We both have absolutely no illusions who started this. I did not start this war Mr Liao. You brought this upon yourself Mr Liao with your arrogance, unprofessionalism and utter stupidity. Prepare for war Mr Liao. In eleven hours we will cease all diplomatic communications. I bring this matter directly to the Imperium in Primus Aldentes Prime. And war will be declared.

    And that my friends is a real threat. As for the fault lines about race, that is a red herring.

    Darkness 2012

  13. Francis says:

    I really don’t understand why we should entertain this Shanmugam considering how vicious and nonsensical his performance in parliament in answering question from opp party. Hello, that is not even funny or political when question is asked on behalf of public interest It is not even funny when none of PAP MPs raise any critical question on Woo’s case in parliament (correct me if i wrong). don’t anyone think it is insult to lesser mortal to give credit and entertain Shanmugam ?

    Can we ask Shanmugam not to be “political” in answering question and giving remark in this case ? It is really absolute shameful thing to do.

  14. george says:

    ” I’ve adopted a non-Chinese habit decades ago to wash my arse after ablution. ”

    Just out of interest, what do you mean? Ablution means to bath. Why do you
    do what you say you do AFTER bathing? Don’t you do it AS PART of your abultion? Which minority’s practice are you referring to?

  15. Sivaraj Pragasm says:

    Hi Gintai, I only just managed to take a look at your blog as I was busy the past couple of days. Nice discussion you guys had here. I have since restricted the post because it was getting too huge for me to constantly monitor, you know how prickly the authorities can be with racial discussion but I’m glad people are talking about it, quite an eye opener indeed.

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