Singapore – Esther Low, a popular Singaporean actress commonly known for her role in Netflix’s Marco Polo as The Blue Princess, recently sparked an online conversation about racism in Singapore.
As tweeted on January 15, the actress commented on how some Singaporeans can be very racist sparking the need to talk about this issue. She believed that by continuing to discuss racism, it would create a positive effect on the whole issue and “change the lives of victims of racism in Singapore”.
Some Singaporeans can be very racist and I think we should talk about it. Because having/continuing objective discussions about this can potentially change the lives of victims of racism in Singapore. Let's start/keep the ball rolling.
— Esther Low (@estherlowww) January 15, 2019
With over 1,600 retweets and 1,000 likes, the tweet made waves in social media.
She continued her thread by adding five instances where she personally experienced or observed racism. One was about the norm of not allowing domestic helpers to sit together with the family during meal times and even mentions that some were forced to eat on the floor. She added, “That’s racist to the point of neglecting human rights.”
Secondly, she talked about the common term some Singaporeans use to refer to blue-collar workers from Bangladesh and India and how it is sometimes used in a racist manner. Bangla is the term and the example she gave was, “Why you go and make friends with that Bangla? Siao ah you.”
Another was a personal experience of her being asked on set if it was ok to be kissed by an Indian guy during one of her scenes. She continued by saying, “That comes from a racist place. Why should I not be okay to kiss an Indian guy?”
Next was about how she saw a group of “aunties” waiting for a taxi and commented “eeee Malay. We take the next one la” when they saw the taxi driver. Totally racist. Lastly, 90% of advertisements for apartments for lease have a disclaimer saying, “Chinese only. No Indians or Malays.”
In the words of Ms. Low, “Racism is so deeply ingrained in our society that I think a lot of Singaporeans don’t even think about it. And just because it’s something we’ve gotten used to doesn’t mean it’s right and we should be okay with this forever.” And she is doing something about it. Even if the society dictates not to “rock the boat”, she sees it worth the discussion because there are other large communities being affected.
Many were prompt to comment and add to the thread. Some added their personal experiences with racism while others gave their sound insight on this topic.
Musa Okwongga praised Ms. Low and said she is “the boss” for starting the thread.
Ms. Low made another tweet expressing her surprise at how supportive everyone has been. She said, “Do Singaporeans care? YES TOTALLY.”