Why link war on diabetes to race and not socio-economic status of patients?


By Ravi Philemon/

TODAY’s piece, “Getting Malays, Indians to change eating habits may not be easy,” is a nonsense report just reinforcing stereotypes.

Reporters simply spoke to a couple of Indian restaurant operators, a few other Malay operators, and a cabbie who likes to lepak when he is not driving before coming up with “anecdotal evidence” that there is a lack of healthier food choices for the Malay and Indian communities.

I, for one, eat roti prata maybe twice a month and visit an Indian restaurant maybe once a month. My diet consists mainly of ‘Chinese’, ‘Western’ and ‘Fusion’ dishes – Singaporean dishes actually.

PM Lee conveniently pointed out that six in 10 Indians, and half of Malays above age 60 are diabetic, compared to 2.5 in 10 for the Chinese.

But why give us statistics about diabetes based on race and not on socio-economic status of the diabetic patient?

It is common knowledge that local Indians and Malays remain somewhat stratified in terms of class relative to other ethnic groups in Singapore. It is a fact that low-income Singaporeans face challenges in eating healthily, which could in turn make them more vulnerable to diabetes.

If we look at China and India, we see that more in China live with diabetes than in India (11% China, 9% India). Does that mean that Chinese are more predisposed to diabetes than Indians?

I think absolutely not!

Besides the socio-economic status, there are other factors like genetic predisposition, which one must look at in order to tackle the disease properly.

Putting on a racial lens to look at the illness does no one any good. We will lose this war on diabetes if citizens are not given the right information by those that have them.

Edited and republished with permission from Ravi Philemon’s Facebook post.


  1. Maybe he ought to say the common type of Malay and Indian food we have here, whatever race doesn’t matter, whoever eats a lot of it and very frequently is more predisposed to the disease.

    • I agree. Analysing disease incidence by race provides insights into likely factors be it genetic or environmental that contribute to the disease etiology.

    • Patrick Lim there was an article on calories count of common breakfast in Singapore, with foods like Mee Siam, Mee Rebus, Nasi Lemak, etc. topping the charts. As Chinese food is non-halal, that might leave little choice for the poorer ones in the Malay and Indian community.

  2. Sorry but this has to do with healthy living campaigns, good diet, exercise, stress reduced life, herbal supplements to detox, massages to reduce tension and build muscles especially Ayurveda are areas to look into seriously.

  3. U can eat anything as long u control what u eat. Just like u like to drink soft drinks but u choose to drink everyday anything happen to your health want to blame who ? Not only u suffer your family also. U can enjoy life but don take for granted.

  4. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2016. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally I began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do lots of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story http://mydiabetesday.com/i-finally-reversed-my-diabetes/ I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

  5. It should not be interpreted as a racial thing. However the truth is well known that many illnesses are linked to one’s genetic predisposition. Like Angelina Jolie’s predisposition to breast cancer because her mother and aunty both died of the cause.

  6. Come on, let’s all grow up a little and talk more sensibility.

    Yes, no to sugar tax or to any more taxes, any tax only benefit the government coffer by robbing from the poor. Tax the rich more if you dare, leave the poor alone from further taxing of anything. It’s a no brainer!

    Yes, need education and positive campaigns to drive the whole nation behind a better, healthier lifestyle.

    Yes, government need to deliver the promised cheap brown rice and lower prices of all healthy choice food produces and products to and for the poor who are the most vulnerable in any given society, otherwise government is just paying lip service and talking shit. The poor mostly go to the cheap price tag which almost exclusively translate to the poorest or worst quality type of food in most cases.

    Finally, Yes, say it like it is. Malays and Indians are at the forefront in diabetes cases maybe because they preferred their tea and coffee twice as sweet and/or also drinking more than the Chinese, among the rest of lifestyle choices and habits and practices? This has got nothing to do with race as in racism or being racist. If there is a virus that is race targeting, instead of coming out straight telling it is primarily or solely hitting that particular race in question, you want to go bit around the bushes?

  7. How you present facts is important. Will the Chinese be Ok, if someone wrote an article and said most Chinese die of cancer and most Chinese men die of Prostate cancer ?? It’ s how you write. Clearly, the two jokers from today online did a very bad job with their article. Absolutely, no doubt about it. Today online, wake up !!

  8. Control what u eat, control where u live, control what u say, control what u drive, control who u marry, control where u work, what u study, who u vote for, how many children u have etc etc etc… one big control freak … thats the G we have!!

  9. G is always looking at revenue to recoup what is loss in the reserve/cpf. Until the next election , they have to make sure it’s top back / if not, play dirty to keep them in power.

  10. The government is way behind the curve on race relation in Singapore. Ordinary Singaporeans have after so many years of indoctrination on multi racialism been kind of colour blind until the pap government for their own selfish agenda decided to make the next PE a reserved for Malay. The irony is non of the 3 who submitted their nomination forms are pure Malay. So now ordinary Singaporeans are becoming more conscious of their race, thanks to the pap government. Well done. Undoing the works of 2 generations. Just like undoing the special relationship with PRC. Even undoing family relationship. LKY family is No more.

  11. 1. Sugar tax trailer news
    2. Singapore cannot claim multi racial yet
    3. Fuck it. Every race has good and bad. How about showing statistics for suicides?
    4. Fucking useless rally with no seriously real issues to talk about.

  12. I still remember the govt used to associate Malays with drug problems back in the 80’s & 90’s but now when majority of drug users now are Chinese such association to a particular race suddenly stop? What’s happening here?

  13. Usual style up and up prices and taper off till coming GE that comes along with giving out bits of taxpayers money to oldies(usual die hard fans)and then win again

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