The Minister for Law and Home Affairs (MHA) K Shanmugam announced on Friday (Feb 7) that he had asked the MHA to look into remarks made by a religious teacher over the deadly novel coronavirus.
In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam wrote that “the current situation has brought out the worst in some”.
Adding that the religious teacher Abdul Halim bin Abdul Karim “says that the coronavirus was retribution by Allah against Chinese for oppressing Muslim Uighurs”, Mr Shanmugam noted that “Such comments are quite unacceptable from anyone, let alone someone who is supposed to be a religious teacher”.
Making an example out of Chen Jianbang who was charged for making racist comments against Malays, Mr Shanmugam also pointed out the incident where YouTuber Preeti Nair, known as Preetipls, made and “circulated a thoroughly racist video, calling Chinese “fools”, running down CNY traditions. She played a scene, for example, where ang pow money was equated with money collected from prostitution”.
Ms Nair last year received a conditional warning for a controversial rap video that questioned the use of “brownface” in an advertisement.
“Abdul Halim’s comments against Chinese in general (including Singaporean Chinese) are simply unacceptable – and these can’t be left alone”, Mr Shanmugam said.
Religious teacher responds, apologises
In a Facebook post earlier today (Feb 7), Mr Abdul Halim bin Abdul Karim responded to Mr Shanmugam’s comments, with a “Public Clarification and Apology”.
He wrote: “The fact is that there is nothing in my post, written in Malay, that is intended to be racist. I am merely referring to the fact about those who do not use soap and water to clean themselves (In Islam that is called istinjak and it is part of the basic principles of Islamic faith of purifying oneself from impurities (Taharah) ) after doing their business. This is in light of reports about the spread of the virus through contamination with human feaces. It is in the context of this worrying development that I made my post”.
He added that he did not make his Facebook post about any particular race at all. /TISG