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Poster of dark-skinned cleaner: Singapore Kindness Movement needs to do some “internal reflection”

SPP's Jose Raymond takes exception to its statement that critics had taken part in a malicious and divisive act




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Singapore — While the Singapore Kindness Movement is reviewing its “clean toilet project” posters with material some say amounts to “racial profiling”, the SKM needs to do some “internal reflection” in order to understand what’s wrong with its campaign, according to Mr Jose Raymond, the Chairman of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP).

The issue at hand is a poster that shows a dark-skinned cleaner saying: “Is it people think the floor is rubbish bin?” The poster was brought to the attention of the public by Ms Eileena Lee, who posted a photo of it on her Facebook page on Tuesday (Oct 20).

FB screengrab: Eileena Lee

The SKM is quoted by todayonline.com as saying on Thursday (Oct 22) that it was just one of a series of posters meant to be taken together, adding that those who called it out for racist content “may have taken our posters out of context to deliberately propagate misunderstanding and negative feelings in our society”.

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It added: “These malicious acts can erode the precious harmony that we have built over the years. Civic-minded Singaporeans who truly want a stronger, kinder and more inclusive society would encourage healthy civil discourse among us, and would not sow such discord in this manner.”

But Mr Raymond did not seem satisfied with SKM’s response.

On Oct 20, he had written about the poster, calling “the racial stereotyping and prejudice … shocking”, adding that other aspects of it were “sickening” and “baffling”. “Wrong on so many levels. Again,” he wrote.

Three days later, after SKM said it would review the poster, Mr Raymond wrote an even lengthier post, saying that it needed to ask itself some questions.

1. Were all posters put up at the same locations so members of the public viewed them all at one go?

2. Did SKM engage stakeholders or conduct focus groups sensing exercises prior to the release of the campaign? If yes, how many were engaged, and what were the results of its engagement exercise?

3. Did SKM embark on a public announcement of its campaign prior to putting the posters up to explain its objectives?

4. Why did SKM choose Florence, Rosnah and Siva as names for its cleaners? Did it have data to show these were names of people who were usually cleaners?

5. What are the hallmarks of Florence’s character which depict she’s a Chinese?

And while he acknowledged the “good” in that SKM is reviewing the posters, he took exception to its statement that those who had called out what they perceived as racial profiling had participated in a malicious and divisive act.

Mr Raymond added: “I thank people like Eileena Lee and many others who understand what is wrong about the campaign and hope the people behind the campaign in the Singapore Kindness Movement, while well-intended, does its own internal reflection on what’s ostensibly wrong with the campaign.”

Ms Lee is also quoted in todayonline.com with similar sentiments. “How is calling it out a malicious act? Why are they taking such a defensive position and using such accusatory language, if discourse is something they want to encourage? Any kind of caricature is based on stereotypes. It should be avoided, period.” /TISG

Read also: Singapore Kindness Movement Sec-Gen issues ‘unreserved’ apology for 2 race-related articles in The Pride

Singapore Kindness Movement Sec-Gen issues ‘unreserved’ apology for 2 race-related articles in The Pride

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