The recent controversy surrounding the “brownface” E-pay advertisement and the Preetipls rap video that is being investigated by the police has dominated headlines and caused discussions on race relations to abound on social media.
As Singaporeans discuss topics like racial harmony, casual racism, the Chinese majority and discrimination against ethnic minorities, some netizens are recirculating old comments by Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on race and the Chinese majority.
In 1985, Mr Lee had said: “I have said this on many a previous occasion: that had the mix in Singapore been different, had it been 75% Indians, 15% Malays and the rest Chinese, it would not have worked.
“Because they believe in the politics of contention, of opposition. But because the culture was such that the populace sought a practical way out of their difficulties, therefore it has worked.”
In his 1998 book, The Man and His Ideas, Mr Lee echoed this sentiment. He said: “I have said openly that if we were 100 per cent Chinese, we would do better. But we are not and never will be, so we live with what we have.”
Mr Lee’s 1998 quote is among the quotes in a post that talks about negative public comments on race members of the ruling party have made in the past. Besides Mr Lee’s comment, the post also features a quote by ex-PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang who said in 1992:
“One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around.”
Ex-MPs are not the only PAP members featured in the post. The post also features a newspaper headline, covering current PAP MP Denise Phua’s comment that crowds at Little India are like “walking time bombs,” as well as Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s recent comment that older Singaporeans are not ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister.
The post, published by Facebook user Mahalakslmi Palanibil, has been shared by over 270 accounts on social media so far: