Here is a somewhat heated, but civilised, debate on Facebook after journalist Ian De Cotta posted a link to a report on the Little India riot. Trish Chan was a Singapore journalist before moving to San Francisco.
Trish Chan: This is hilarious.
Ian De Cotta: Trish, let me assure you, it is not hilarious. The last couple of riots we had claimed many lives. So, I am not too sure where the humour is.
Trish: When was the last riot? 44 years ago? The humour is in how sheltered and protected Singaporeans are. Here in San Francisco, I live amid serious crimes every day. You learn to live with and deal with it, because life isn’t pleasantville. People get angry when they are poor and needs aren’t satisfied.
Ian: Trish, I think you are getting it wrong. Societies are different everywhere. It does not mean that since there is no crime here, Singaporeans are sheltered. And it does not mean that since San Francisco did things its way, people should get used to crime. Now, that is hilarious. Singapore did things to minimise crime, and people here should be thankful. Many US citizens are moving here and it tells you something about the two places. What has happened here is not about crime, it is about something far deeper.
Trish: Yes, it’s about people who have been ostracised and discriminated against using an incident to express their anger
Trish: And Singaporeans are sheltered… US citizens move to Singapore because of a tax break, not because they actually find living in Singapore a lot better
Ian: On the first point about being ostracised, you may be hitting somewhere near the target. On your next post, I can tell you how wrong you are, and can give you so many Americans who disagree with you.
Trish: We have always pandered to the richer foreigners and looked down on the poorer ones. This incident is an expression of that. You’re exactly right that it is indicative of something deeper… our ignorance and intolerance of other ethnic groups. And you are right that crime isn’t something people technically should get used to. That is not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, life isn’t always pleasant, shit happens. But somehow in Singapore, our government has trained us to become used to ignoring things by giving us “bread and circuses”, entertainment, casinos, “lifestyle benefits.” You will see that this is just the first of such riots because people aren’t happy.
Trish: I will like to hear from one such American, and how he/she has somehow become a local, hawker-going Singaporean, and not hanging out with a bunch of Americans in their Woodlands commune.
Trish: You give me one, and I’ll shut up.
Ian: Trish, I agree with two-third of your lengthy post.
Ian: Trish, now you are generalising, and that isn’t productive in a discussion like this.
Trish: And what did Singapore do to minimise crime? Lock people up, sue dissidents, kill them? Is that the society we should be aspiring to be? When people are locked up because they have an opinion that differs from the majority?
Tris: There is a reason for stereotypes… like I said, you say there are many Americans who would disagree. I would like to hear from one – and that one isn’t necessarily indicative of every American. But just one not receiving a tax break I’ll be satisfied.
Ian: And you are parroting whom?
Trish: I’m not sure if you live in the same country where JBJ stood outside City Hall MRT for years. Maybe you live in a much different part of Singapore than I did. One that’s always happy and people always love the government. Obviously, we have different viewpoints. I wish you all the best.
Ian: Trish, let’s stop this. You are now getting ridiculous and ranting on my thread. Go read the papers and blogs….
Ian: Trish, now you are getting offensive. You have no idea of my politics and are out of your depth in criticising me.