Facebook user Rohaizatul Azhar Gurung criticised certain comments which had come from certain Ministers and MPs implying that minorities owed everything to the magnanimity and the generosity of the Chinese majority – that the majority had to make compromises in order to protect multiculturalism.
He drew example from what Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung reportedly said in Parliament in support of the changes to the Elected Presidency, that “one example of the community compromising was when it agreed to have English as the state’s working language.”
He took issue that Mr Ong chose to speak about minorities in Singapore in Mandarin and suggested that this was Chinese privilege.
Another Nominated Member of Parliament, Chia Yong Yong, also spoke in Parliament on the same topic, also in Mandarin and said: “As a Chinese, despite growing up in a multiracial society, I could not fully understand my fellow citizens’ difficulties. I’d like to say that everyone is equal, but is it true?”
Just in case you are not able to see Rohaizatul’s post, this is what he said:
[WARNING: a VERY, very long post]
When Donald Trump was named President-elect two days ago, I was telling a good friend that it’s a good thing we’re in Singapore. And, as a person of colour and a minority, at least I’m on homeground. I mean, despite some issues, there’s still some semblance of “racial harmony”.
But what I never knew was that I owed all this, this safety, my comfort, the life I lead now and my education… to the magnanimity and the generosity of the Chinese majority. That us minorities were such burdens to the Chinese community that they HAD to make COMPROMISES in order to protect multi-culturalism.
I just thought we’re all “one people, one nation, one Singapore”, working together, “regardless of race, language and religion”, towards building a “democratic society based on justice and equality”. Perhaps, I was being naive.
Excerpt from ST – “One example of the community compromising was when it agreed to have English as the state’s working language, (Education Minister Ong Ye Kun) added”
“AGREED to have” – I never knew that Singapore’s a Chinese nation and that we needed the permission of the Chinese community. That we, the minorities, were, and perhaps still are, an inconvenience that compromises had to be made. And that the state’s working language, as implied by the minister’s speech, was to have always been Mandarin.
Thank you for effectively erasing the now-minorities from Singapore’s Nation Building narrative. And you’re the minister of education (higher education and skills)?
Excuse you, we were a British Colony, and before that, the people spoke Malay. When did this problematic narrative of the “White Man’s Burden” turned into an even more problematic narrative of a “Singapore Chinese Man’s Burden”? Well done, Mr Ong, in appropriating our history.
And this came right after the PM announced that, should there be a worthy candidate, the next President of Singapore is reserved for a Malay.
It’s like, “here you go, you poor, powerless people of the minority communities. Look how gracious and self-less we are. We are giving you THIS when we’re obviously the better ones. Without us, you’d have nothing. You’d be nothing”.
I’m sorry, but you can keep all these “gifts” and have a seat. No, actually, go stand in the corner because you all should not have had, and do not deserve, the seats (in Parliament that the people gave you) in the first place.
And you know what is painfully sad and hurtful? It is that Mr Ong, who stands a very good chance to be our next PM, can very well post an FB non-apology status update later to say that he was “misunderstood” and that he “didn’t mean to offend anyone with his statement” or that his comments were “misconstrued and taken out of context”. And then, things go back to normal.
Or he won’t even address it and life goes on. And that people will just say, “Oh, he’s a fool” or “wow, where was his PR people?”.. And then, life.goes.on.
Or that some people will say, “people are offended by everything these days. They should calm down”. And life.. Life.goes.on.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what one calls privilege. That one can stand, and seemingly speak for an entire community, in Parliament, in front of Representatives from all races and where the Speaker of the House is a Malay, and speak *in Mandarin* about issues concerning minorities and about this nation’s well-being in general. That one can say what one wants without being held accountable and responsible for it. That is privilege.
It will be pointed out that the parts chosen and highlighted by ST were not the main focus of his speech. And that this is a clickbait strategy.
Be that as it may, these words were uttered (and, I repeat, in Mandarin) in Parliament (in front of Representatives of all races and where the Speaker is Malay). I brought up race because the issue of race has been brought up. Twice in Parliament.
Where is this multi-culturalism and racial harmony he spoke of earlier? Why not address the Parliament in the English language – you know the language the majority people HAD to make COMPROMISES for?
To loosely add to the Singlish phrase Mr Ong borrowed from Mr Pritam Singh, please “ownself check ownself’s… privilege”.
It is one thing, living overseas, and be regarded/treated as a second class citizen, or an immigrant. Wrong as it may be, at least I know my place.
It is a-whole-nother thing to be treated as such in my own country, my homeground. Is this truly home? Surely?