Tuesday, October 09, 2012

On Racial Tolerance and for Amy Cheong

I know I promised a personal post ( It's already written and scheduled to go live on Friday). But today I want to share my sentiments on the whole Amy Cheong saga.

I'm sure you're all aware by now.. but for the benefit of those who don't, let me briefly sum it up for you: On Sunday night, Amy Cheong, posts a rude status updates about Malay void deck weddings. By Monday morning, it went viral.  Today (Tuesday), she was fired by her employer NTUC. Today, she flew to Perth (presumably to seek refuge, and get away from it all).

I don't condone what she has done. In fact, I find her remarks distasteful and very malicious towards the Malays in Singapore. For this, she got fired by NTUC... which I think is fair. It is the prerogative of the employer whether to fire her or not over such poor conduct. Plus, as an assistant director at NTUC, I feel she should have known better than to conduct herself this way. 

But then... I see all sorts of characters (of all races ah) coming out of the woodworks... some trying to flame this fire, some making the most asinine remarks (like calling her "Amy chee Cheong fun". Woah dude, yeah.. I'm sure that cuts like a knife)...... some taking such umbrage and some others bringing politics and the PAP into the equation.

*My hands up in surrender* Ok, the Grassroots leader who made the police report against Amy Cheong for her comment, is a fellow grago (Eurasian).... De Souza some more (same surname as my Grandma).... I suppose if he did it in the hopes that they would give her a scare and she would stop making such remarks public in the future, then good. But if it was done because like... every little thing also call police... then *face palm*

And surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly)... now, some are saying she should come back from Perth so we can put her in jail. Ah?? Yao mo gao cho? More like, we should put YOU in jail for stirring shit and trying to cause more friction between the races.

If you're one of those people I'm speaking about, your behaviour reminds me of a bunch of young hooligans. When one person punches another person, and some random fool shouts FIGHT!!! Everyone starts joining in, swinging and kicking, not knowing exactly why or what they're fighting for.

Grow up a little, or at least try to. 

Having grown up in Singapore as an extreme minority, not to be smug or anything, but I can tell you what racial tolerance is

It is not just respecting other races and their practices (because you can never truly do this 100%)... but it is more about being self assured. Being so sure about yourself (and race) that you don't feel the need to lash out at others and don't feel the need to bring the roof down when other people say things that don't sound nice about yourself (or race).

You know, when I was sitting in Malay class in secondary school, the teacher (his name was Mr Rawi, but he's long been dead now), he singled me out and told the class, "Dia makan babi"... which translates to she eats pork. And the whole class of like 20 Malay kids went in unison- "Eeeee!!!"

I was the DIRTY girl. (I believe the word was Haram). No one wanted to touch my things for a while. (But kids being kids, it soon passed and was forgotten by them)

But imagine how it made me feel? A young Eurasian kid already struggling to learn a "Mother Tongue" which is not hers, just so she can get her required B, and get into college. Life was hard enough, without being singled out (by the adult teacher no doubt). 

On another occasion  I don't remember what made the topic surface... but it was something about toilets, or toilet paper.  And the teacher was saying something like- The Chinese don't wash their asses after shitting. 

And there was a gasp (of disbelief?) from the class. And then he said (in Malay, but I forget how to say this whole long sentence in malay lah)- "You don't believe, you ask her" (pointing to me, the only non-malay in class of course)... "When she shits she wipes her ass with paper" .....  (KERTAS!!) and then graphically waved a piece of foolscap paper in the air. I think because the translation of toilet paper (toilet tissue) in Malay is literally paper... as in no different from the paper you write on. 

I remember all this because it hurt and was very embarrassing for me. Did I survive it? Of course la. I'm so much tougher than that, even as a child. 

Did it cause me to hate all my Malay friends or the Malay race? No. In fact, some of my best friends are Malay.

But did it cause me to hate this teacher or complain about him to my parents or the authorities? No. 

Even as a child, my parents taught me to be sure of myself, and proud of my race. So what if there are things about me or my race which other people (including the Chinese and Indians and other races) will never understand. I don't need them to understand. I do what I feel is right and I can feel good about that.

Sometimes I too might unwittingly have bad thoughts or make bad comments about other races, because I cannnot understand them 100% either. But when that happens, I hope they will be able to find it in their hearts to forgive my ignorance... just as I have in the past overlooked theirs instead of making a big ass deal out of it. I hope they won't lynch me like they did Amy Cheong.

Is this how you want to define your race? Is this how you deal with such situations? Does this make you feel good?
Makcik in tudung proudly making fuck you sign.
Calling NTUC a CUNT and other uncouth gangster like posts. 
I don't wish to offend anyone, especially those who are finding it difficult to deal with the anger Amy Cheong has caused them, but I feel sad when I see my fellow Singaporeans responding this way.

Amy Cheong is an idiot. Yes. But you don't have to stoop to her level. You are so much better than that.

24 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:55 am

    The thing i find is people who flame it is as bad as her. Sharing and repost is one thing but calling for her sacking and then keep going about it non-stop makes me think she is just being made use of by others to create disharmony. Then there's others who bring it politics like you said. If that's how they like to link something, might as well link it back to the time when the Japanese invaded Singapore and really, it was Hitler's fault.

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  2. Totally agreed. These people just want someone to hate on. There's no need to get up in arms about every little damn thing.

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  3. Anonymous8:35 am

    It takes two hands to clap, those people who like to stir rubbish up are just looking for dramatic entertainment not available anywhere else.

    But if they are going to boycott NTUC for this isolated incident, it'll show how stupid and simple minded they are.

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  4. A very enlightened view. Unfortunately, most people are either not interested or totally emotional about it. I think the harsh retaliatory comments, actions and measures haven't done anything positive for racial harmony.

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  5. @gorikain9:29 am

    On behalf of the late Mr Rawi, your secondary school Malay teacher, I would like to apologise for singling you out in class with such crude, racist remark, as what you mentioned in your post. If that had been the scene of 2012, I'm pretty sure he would have been given a stern warning or even the sack.

    Coming back to the hostile reaction towards Amy Cheong, I feel that they're spur of the moment kind of reaction, most if not all coming from the angsty younger generation who are too quick to judge. And with internet as a ready platform at their disposal, they are more than happy in expressing their unhappiness without even thinking for a second of the consequence that could further jeopardise the very essence of multiracial society that we live in.

    I for one was pissed with the remarks made by Amy Cheong upon knowing it. Call me old if you will (mature would be more appropriate, thank you), thankfully I know where to draw the line and to respond in a negative manner would not solve anything.

    Some of the reactions were downright wrong, like the image you posted above where a makcik in tudung was found to have shown the middle finger. Though we do not know the authenticity or the story behind that image, as we are all aware anything is possible in this age of interwebz, such reaction is uncalled for.

    Ever since the incident went viral, I must say those nasty reactions have thankfully simmered down. The response now is more towards "enough of Amy Cheong", "let's move on" type which can only be good. I hope it stays this way and yes, no more flaming the fire pretty please.

    Anyways, I enjoyed reading this post of yours. Thanks for sharing your take on race relations here in Singapore.

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  6. Anonymous12:59 pm

    Amy deserves the consequences for her actions- i mean eventually when she goes job hunting, she will feel the full brunt of her actions when she has to answer questions regarding her termination or worse still be recognised and turned away . It's not wrong to stereotype or prejudice at times, we are after all humans but it should not hurt or affect others. As Singaporeans it is only natural to comment on the races and their actions which irk you but online comments are like your diary in a library- at public disposal.
    Singaporeans tend to rear their 'ugly' personalities alot these days at the easiest chance. In light of these ugly moments, are the filming of every f***ing incident, fight, squabble that occurs in public. This is clear invasion of privacy! Unless you have every intention of reporting to the police and keeping as evidence to help or if it concerns you then fine. But since when does a couple arguing about their own personal things also necessary to record and post online? People are seriously deluded!

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  7. Anonymous1:32 pm

    what's your racial mix Holly? do you have malay or indian blood?

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  8. Eurasian.

    Portuguese and Chinese (Peranakan)

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  9. Ms. Lopez7:17 pm

    Isn't that De Souza who filed, an Indian man, and not Grago? Indian Catholics or Christians also have Portuguese or Western surnames.

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  10. I only went by the name De Souza, and have no idea who he is or what he looks like.

    Oh, in that case .. *drops my previously raised arms, no longer up in surrender*

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  11. James W.12:07 am

    Holly, why choose to highlight only the negative stuff from the incident? Why can't you highlight that there were MANY comments (surprisingly more from Malays) on Twitter telling people to stop condemning Amy. I was very glad to see a lot of those positive comments.

    Yes of course there were childish insults but this is the reality of the Internet. Look at Youtube. It's FULL OF TROLLS on literally every popular video.

    Your blog post would have been so much more interesting to read if it wasn't just another whiny rant. You could have copied and pasted a whole bunch of awesome tweets instead of posting screenshots of ugly comments (so cliché). I know it's your blog and you can write whatever you want but why be a typical angry blogger?

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  12. Dear Holly,
    i enjoyed reading your blog eversince i watched you on that modelling contest show on channel 5 and you were one of the finalist.

    But i can say im a tad disssapointed whn reading this post.
    i understand how you felt whn you were singled out.

    everyone is of cause entitled to thheir own opinion.

    and there tonnnes of post that told off those angry Malays to cool off.

    Our religion taught us not to be hostile. but yes humans are different and will react differently.

    Its not the race collectively, its just those indivudual humans reacting adversely as opposed to what is supposed to be done.

    As for that makcik tudung picture, it was already viral on Singapore version of 9gag way before this Amy Cheong issue surfaced.

    What prompted her to show the finger, i doubt we will know.

    it maybe just in the 'private'moment of jest with her family but somehow it got viral.


    By putting her picture your further depicting the negativity of the Malay races.


    thank you,
    Zahiah.

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  13. Oh dear, I'm sorry if I've managed to upset Zahiah and some other readers.

    This was not meant to be a - point out all the things the Malays are doing wrong- sort of post. In fact, I dont think it is such a post at all.

    I wanted to share that remarks from people which we deem racist in intent, may not be so. And that the root of racial tolerance does not come from an "understanding" or false tact towards other races... but the key to racial tolerance is accepting that others may not understand your culture/beliefs/etc and may say dumb assholic things (like Amy Cheong, and like my former teacher Mr Rawi).

    If you don't nurture an inferiority complex... if you believe in what you are and what you stand for... there's no need to take offence over other people's opinions. Racism only exists because we give it our attention and energy.

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  14. Anonymous12:00 pm

    Racial tolerance is to be on guard at all times. You will surely upset someone, sometime, somewhere if you have a opinion. How is the weather today, Holly ;)

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  15. Hi Holly, thanks for sharing. I am sure there are other similar cases of racism that affected minorities caused by insensitive Mother-Tongue teachers. Somehow our multicultural policies had taken a prevention model rather than a peace building one.

    http://www.todayonline.com/CommentaryandAnalysis/Commentary/EDC121011-0000024/The-problem-of-a-racialised-mind

    I encouraged every reader to read this article posted by my friend.

    Cheers!

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  16. Anonymous1:35 pm

    Hi Holly,

    Please remove the photo of the aunty. Apparently someone deliberately tricked her into doing that as she is someone who easily "melatah"(if you know what it means).

    The person who owned the photo apparently uploaded the photo in his/her account and claimed that the account has been hacked. The photo was then edited to "fit" the situation behind the recent case.
    The owner has since reported the matter to the police for copyright infringement and thus I would like to advise you to quickly remove the photo.

    PS:
    I am disappointed at the person who did the trick and took the photo deliberately,after which uploaded onto FB.

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  17. Anonymous1:36 pm

    Hi there,

    I am the niece of that makcik in tudung. Let me explain the real situation here. This picture were taken a very long time and it has got nothing to do with Amy Cheong. It has been hacked and gone viral ever since with all kind of captions. Please stop judging her, cos she is totally innocent. I hope with my explanations, all of you will understand the real situation. And stop being judgemental. And I ask from you, kindly remove her photos. Our family members are taking further actions to all users who posted and shared her photos. Thank you for your kind understanding. We apologise for any inconvenience dat we/us have caused. Believe me, she is innocent and has got nothing to do with Amy Cheong.

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  18. Anonymous8:46 pm

    Frankly I thought people were grossly overreacting. She made stupid and rude comments but those lashing out at her behaved even worse. What was supposed to be a rant already cost someone her job. I'd like to see the same happening with the many Malays I know who have ranted openly on facebook that their Chinese bosses are racist, they aren't getting promotions because of their race, their Chinese colleagues are lazy, blah blah... and these rants do get vicious.

    By the way, I'm loving the makcik flipping the bird picture. Only goes to show you have to be extremely careful when it comes to social media. As I'm sure Amy knows now.

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  19. Anonymous10:58 pm

    I agreed with your blog post. To add on, I believe some of the races do make racist remarks on other races too. So, I don't really understand why they have to behave these way when Amy made that comments.

    Get over it people. Holly is just stating her opinions. Don't get serious about it.

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  20. Suka Suka Ah!12:06 am

    Nice post Holly, I agree we shouldn't stoop to Amy's level.

    @Zahiah, with regards to your comment "As for that makcik tudung picture, it was already viral on Singapore version of 9gag way before this Amy Cheong issue surfaced."

    I sure as hell want to see evidence of your claim that SGAG 'viralled' that picture. The team has not posted such an inappropriate picture. Please do not suka suka make irresponsible comments like that. Thank you.

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  21. When I first heard of Amy's comment I was shocked, it was so blatantly racist. I feel anger can be expressed but if someone expresses it with other racist comments or in a low class way, it means they are not any better.

    Having said that I did wish you had complained to your parents abt your late Malay language teacher. Unacceptable! It must have been awful for you, what horrible things to say!

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  22. Anonymous11:23 pm

    yes we make racist remarks all the time. nobody's gonna put you in jail if you do it discreetly/within your clique etc. but amy cheong went ONLINE and posted an obvious blatant racist remark and thats why people reacted. so please understand its not about the remarks, but rather how she blatantly showed her opinion in a hugely distasteful manner. its your mouth and you can do whatever you want with it, but at the same time please exercise some responsibility and restrain when it comes to public posting.

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  23. Anonymous1:13 am

    errr
    whats wrong with the pic of the makcik in tudung showing the sign?

    even makciks in tudung r human too!

    n i feel amy getting sacked was too harsh!
    they could have just given her a warning instead n asked her to share it via personal/private channels/ways only.

    yes ppl do complain about the diff racial differences-
    malay wedding so noisy
    chinese hungry ghost burnt ppr makes the air dusty
    indian event, their food smell funny

    ETC!

    amy was just expressing herself but chose to do it using the wrong channel n due to her representing her company, they tool action (that was too harsh)

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  24. Anonymous6:25 pm

    I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don't know who you are but certainly you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!



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    ReplyDelete