Singapore — In the Constituency Political Broadcast on Tuesday (July 7), the Workers’ Party’s (WP) Sengkang Group Representation Constituency candidate Raeesah Khan said that Singapore’s system has “created deep-rooted inequality”.
Ms Khan, said in Malay: “Today, people trapped in misfortune and want to speak up are excluded.”
She added: “Singapore needs to be a fair and just country. The election is an election for all — the people who work hard for the country.”
Issues of inequality are close to Ms Khan’s heart. The 26-year-old digital marketing consultant is a long-time social activist and founded the Reyna Movement, a non-profit organisation to empower women through community engagement and up-skilling programmes as well as to support refugees.
Embracing social causes from the time she was 17, Ms Khan was featured as one of the “Changemakers” in Cleo magazine in 2019.
She is the mother of one child and credits her parents as having inspired her to help others out. The candidate has been quoted as saying: “My mother never made helping other people seem like it was a big deal. When I had my birthday celebrations at the orphanage, it wouldn’t be about me — it’d be about having a celebration with other children.
“So I was always aware of the fact that I’ve lived a very privileged life. I lived in a safe neighbourhood, I had a good education and I was given opportunities. There wasn’t a time when I felt like I didn’t have enough.”
The WP candidate found herself in the middle of a controversy a few days ago due to remarks she had made online concerning race and religion in 2018, to the point that two police reports were filed against her.
Ms Khan issued an apology immediately after the news of the police reports came out in the media. She said: “My intention was never to cause any social division, but to raise awareness to minority concerns. I apologise to any racial group or community who have been hurt by my comments. My remarks were insensitive, and I regret making them.
“I feel passionate about minority issues, regardless of race, and in my passion, I made improper remarks, and I have to be accountable for them.”
And while others have expressed disapproval of Ms Khan’s 2018 remarks, the number of people who have supported her, especially online, has only grown, with petitions, hashtags, Facebook groups and the like circulating on social media. Many believe that she had not said or done anything wrong, but was merely speaking up for minority rights.
One activist wrote this about Ms Khan on Facebook:
“Raeesah belongs to a generation that communicates in an unvarnished way. They communicate about racial inequity in ways that might seem taboo to older Singaporeans. Raeesah’s is a generation that’s ‘woke’, in a way even I, who consider myself an activist, don’t intuitively get…
“Reading about Raeesah, and seeing her apology, here’s what I do get about her. Her’s is a generation that has a fire to do more in their youth than many of us would feel fortunate to accomplish in our lifetimes. What was I doing when I was 26? Certainly not running for Parliament. Raeesah’s is a generation that has the fearless passion to speak up against the system, but also the precociousness to know when to participate in the system to change it. She’s also got the courage and character to look the public in the eye and say sorry when she’s wrong.”
Raeesah Khan is 26. She has been an activist since she was 17 years old. In 2018, on twitter, she made comments that are…