Hong Kong — Singapore “objects strongly” to an article in the South China Morning Post on June 2 linking the recent social unrest in the United States to racial relations in the republic, according to Ms Foo Teow Lee, Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong.
The death of a black, Mr George Floyd, last month while in the custody of Minneapolis police sparked massive Black Lives Matter protests not only in the US but in other parts of the world despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The SCMP article, George Floyd Killing Stirs Asian Feelings On Region’s Own Racial Strife, From Police Custody Deaths In Malaysia To Chinese Privilege In Singapore, written by Kimberly Lim and Tashny Sukumaran, mentioned that discussions concerning racial discrimination were also taking place online in Singapore and Malaysia.
The writers said that in Singapore, those online, mostly millennials, have been talking again about Chinese privilege “and the impact of the casual use of racial slurs on social media”.
Political leaders such as Mr Goh Chok Tong have also weighed in. Mr Goh, who served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 1990 to 2004, wrote: “Though the historical context was different, there is a lesson here for all countries”, adding that the country must “continually work towards an inclusive society where everyone will emerge stronger with our house intact”.
Ms Foo said that, while trust in the police force in many parts of the US is fractured, regular surveys show that the Singapore police force enjoys “high trust, and a reputation for racial impartiality, from upwards of 90 per cent of Singaporeans of every race”.
She added that “race and religion are ever-present realities in human societies, particularly multiracial ones, but that does not mean that all societies are equally bedevilled by racism and religious bigotry”.
Ms Foo underlined the point that Singapore’s foundation is the principle of equality and that the country has worked hard to “build a meritocratic system that gives everyone a fair chance to succeed, no matter their race or religion”.
The Consul-General said that Singapore ensures equality in representation. “Our Parliament is guaranteed a minimum number of legislators from racial minorities. We ensure every racial group gets a chance to occupy the role of Head of State. We have laws that empower the state to act against anyone who causes feelings of enmity between different religious groups.”
“We have overcome a history which includes bloody racial and religious riots, to build a society where Chinese and non-Chinese alike live in peace and friendship with one another. We are conscious this is a work in progress,” she added.
She wrote that it does not “make sense to look at the challenges Singapore faces through an American lens”.
Ms Foo also sought to clarify the perception of the experience of minorities in Singapore, which she wrote is a matter of importance to the Government.
“Your article’s forced juxtaposition of the two experiences conveys the impression that Singaporean minorities are similarly oppressed. As many of your readers are Singaporean, my government views with concern such impressions being formed on the highly sensitive matter of race relations in Singapore.”
“We will never allow any foreign publication to interfere in our affairs.” /TISG