Sunday 26 August 2012

Overwhelming support for multi-racialism despite prejudices: Shanmugam

By Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Aug 2012

Singapore Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has explained why he made public the case involving a resident who made racial slurs against a neighbour.

Many netizens had questioned Mr Shanmugam's motive, including what the incident said about Singapore and if Indians are being targeted.

On August 21, Mr Shanmugam had written about a resident who was upset that he had to tolerate his Indian neighbours, their smell and unwashed bodies. Mr Shanmugam described the complaints as being quite disturbing as it appears the man sees his neighbour's race as being the problem.

In his latest Facebook update, Mr Shamugam, who is also MP for Nee Soon GRC, said he made the post to point out that these sentiments exist, and how they sometimes get expressed. He added the resulting and overwhelming support for multi-racialism, and against prejudice, has been helpful.

That is because it reiterates Singapore's common value - that such prejudicial views are not acceptable.

"That helps strengthen norms, values, and makes us an even stronger multi-racial society. Others who want to say such things will be a little bit more constrained," said Mr Shanmugam.

And for those who think the comments are directed at only Indians or that Indians are themselves free of prejudice, Mr Shanmugam invited netizens to read the prejudicial comments about non-Indians left on his Facebook page by some who appear to be Indians.

Mr Shanmugam said such comments should never have been made. He added that he believes there is a small number of people within all racial groups, who hold prejudiced views about people of other races.

"These sentiments are not restricted to any one racial group nor are they exclusively directed at only at any one racial group. But I also believe that an increasing majority of our society believe in racial harmony and will object to prejudice," he said.

Fault lines still remain in Singapore: Shanmugam

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