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Singaporean in US: Please don’t criticise Black Lives Matter movement

People here may not understand nuances underneath current widespread protests




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A Singaporean who has been in the United States for five years has appealed to Singaporeans to stop criticising the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mr Timothy Koh writes that they may not understand the nuances underneath the current widespread, and at times violent, protests.

I have been seeing a lot of posts from Singaporeans not in the US, writing things critiquing Black Lives Matter,…

Posted by Timothy Koh on Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The protests began after a 46-year-old black, Mr George Floyd, died in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck as he was being handcuffed and was lying face down in the street. Several blacks (men and women) have died over the years at the hands of the  police.

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Although the Covid-19 pandemic is still a problem, thousands have taken to the streets in US cities to protest against Mr Floyd’s death. Demonstrations have also been held in England, Germany and New Zealand.

In Singapore’s social media spaces, while there are some who have joined in the call for justice for Mr Floyd and other Americans killed while in police custody or due to police brutality, others have written critiques of the BLM movement as “alternative views” or “fresh perspectives”.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (June 3), Mr Koh asked the writers of these “think pieces” to refrain from doing so, even as he knows he will likely receive backlash for his stand.

He said Singaporeans should desist from criticising the BLM movement for the following reasons:

Firstly, Singaporeans don’t live in the US, and “don’t know how cops function in the US vs how they function in Singapore”.  They are also unaware of the struggles of blacks in America, even if some may have spent time there.

“Unless you live and work here, and actually know black Americans’ relationships to cops, you don’t know what’s actually happening. There’s a reason why N.W.A’s Fuck Tha Police came out in 1988. I myself am still listening and learning, and I’ve been here five years,” he wrote.

Next, he said that Singapore’s experience of protest is very limited and that Singaporeans are taught to view protests negatively.

“We are from a country that taught us protesting is bad since the social studies / moral education curriculum in primary school. Your focus on violence of some protests also fails to understand the history of protest in the country.”

Thirdly, he pointed out the need for Singaporeans to “consider fixing your own racial hang-ups”.

He added: “So many ACS boys I know have graduated into this stupid centrist pseudo intellectual type law school philosophy figure trapped in an ivory tower with weird notions of the ‘law’ and being like, ‘I’m not defending x, but neither am I denigrating y’. I don’t really care if you chose to dedicate your life as a yes-man to the PAP, but don’t apply your limited way of thinking to what is happening to black people in the US today.”

He ended his post by saying that people are dying because of prejudice, and if anyone would like to learn more about the points he made, he’s “more than willing” to engage with them.

Mr Koh’s post, which has gone viral, has gained a lot of support from the online community.

However, there were others who felt that he had unfairly stereotyped the ACS students he had written about.

One person felt that it would be too bad if readers were alienated by some of his points and missed out on his other ones.

But some people especially agreed with the points he made about ACS students.


Read also: Memorial service to be held for Floyd after week of protests

Memorial service to be held for Floyd after week of protests

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