Former Nominated Member of Parliament (Calvin Cheng) has asserted that “there is nothing extra bad about a foreigner being rude to a Singaporean” in a recent Facebook post that was published in the wake of the viral altercation between a condo resident and an elderly security guard.
A video that began trending on 25 Oct showed a condo resident verbally abusing a hapless security officer at the Eight Riversuites condominium with vulgarities after being told that guests visiting his condominium needed to pay parking fees.
Despite the security guard’s explanation that he was simply enforcing the rules, the condo resident continued to berate the worker. In his expletive-ridden rant, the man bragged to the security officer that he bought his condominium unit for S$1.5 million.
He exclaimed: “I buy your f****** property for S$1.5 million you know. This is 1.5 million you know” before adding, “We’re not staying in a HDB you know?”
Netizens subsequently identified the condo resident as Ramesh Erramalli, an India-born naturalised Singapore citizen who works at global financial services company JP Morgan in Singapore.
Outraged over his behaviour, tens of thousands of netizens blasted Ramesh for disrespecting the security guard and insulting the majority of Singaporeans who live in HDB flats. Ramesh has since apologised to the security guard in person.
Last Thursday (31 Oct), Mr Cheng shared his thoughts on the viral incident and took a divergent view from that which was expressed by the majority of netizens, who were calling on JP Morgan to sack Ramesh and lamenting the India-Singapore CECA which allows the free movement of professionals between the two nations.
Asserting that Ramesh’s rudeness has nothing to do with his nationality, Mr Cheng said that there is “nothing extra bad about a foreigner being rude to a Singaporean” and that he does not need to apologise to all Singaporeans for his behaviour.
Mr Cheng added that Ramesh’s behaviour does not warrant him losing his job and does not justify petitions calling on his employer to sack him. He further said that he did not think Ramesh was rude to HDB dwellers:
“A rude person is a rude person regardless of his nationality. It is irrelevant whether it is foreigner rude to a foreigner, a Singaporean rude to a foreigner, a foreigner rude to a Singaporean, or a Singaporean rude to a foreigner. It’s just as bad.
“There is nothing extra bad about a foreigner being rude to a Singaporean. Just because a foreigner is rude to a Singaporean doesn’t mean he has to apologise to all Singaporeans. Just the one he was rude to.
“In most cases, and especially this one, being rude is not a reason for a person to lose his jobs. It certainly isn’t a reason to start a petition to get rude person sacked. In fact, it is embarrassingly petty for those who started and signed the petition.
“Finally rudeness is not a crime. Doxxing and harassment are. The next time someone thinks it’s a good idea to CSI a rude person’s details, put it on internet, harass the person etc, he should remember that.
“Note : I don’t think he was rude to people living in HDBs. He was making the point that unlike in HDBs, most condos don’t require residents or their guests to pay. Which is true. If you feel insulted, I suggest it’s your problem. (And in case somebody thinks I am being rude to people in HDBs, I grew up in one, and still considering myself a HDB boy at heart)”
Mr Cheng was appointed to a two-and-a-half year term as NMP in 2009. While NMPs were supposed to reflect nonpartisan views, Mr Cheng was a member of the ruling party’s youth wing, Young PAP, when he was appointed NMP. He resigned from Young PAP after TODAY questioned his affiliation to the ruling party.
In 2012, Mr Cheng was appointed to the Media Literacy Council (MLC) under the Government’s Ministry of Communications and Information, which was created to “promote civility and responsibility on the Internet”.
During his time with the MLC, provocative comments he had made about killing the children of terrorists drew criticism from MLC chairman Tan Cheng Han. Mr Cheng apologised to the MLC after two police reports were made against him.
Other controversial opinions Mr Cheng has expressed include his support for the Population White Paper in 2015 and his more recent suggestion that Preeti and Subhas Nair should be jailed and caned for creating a controversial rap video about Chinese privilege.