Today a dear friend of mine was subjected to rude and blatant racism of the worst kind. Her Grab driver cancelled her ride close to pick up time, and dropped off a message “Donpick indian”. Instinctively, she approached Grab to feedback about this disgusting experience, only to be told by Grab that they are “not taking sides” regarding this matter. Subsequently, after further prompts, Grab decided to yield and in their words, “suspend” this driver.

This is perhaps the most infuriating kind of thing that can happen in Singapore. Firstly, the blatant racism that a racial minority has to endure in this country, which constantly emphasises the strict ethos of equality among races, is unfathomable and unacceptable. How can there not be a clearer briefing to all drivers about the need to respect all passengers? Secondly, the way the company tried to skirt around this matter is unacceptable. Racism IS racism. You don’t get to choose sides.

Haven’t all the past occurrences of racist acts in Singapore in the social media age taught companies anything? Remember Prima Deli? How about the infamous Amy Cheong incident? Ring a bell? There must be a code of conduct that rules against all disrespectful behaviours. There must also be a strict and robust penalty system for all drivers who lack common decency. For Grab to have such a code of conduct but not adhere to it immediately is in one word: hypocritical.

We advised our friend to post it up on social media to communicate this message to the masses. It is not about bringing down Grab or anything, but rather to inform everyone whom we know about the hideousness of racial bigotry. This message needs to go out. People need to know that racism occurs every single day. It should not be regarded as a foreign concept that happens only in a news report about another country. It is real.

Her post on Grab Hitch’s Singapore community page invited some positive reaction, but self-invited trolls felt the need to share their two cents’ worth of foolishness. One insisted that a commuter must be willing to accept racism when taking the risk of subscribing to the Grab service.

No. Why should she? Why should we? One even questioned if this was staged. Are you stupid? There are lousy Singaporeans who allow racism to perpetuate. We must let them know that the voice of reason is way louder.

We need to speak up when we encounter such issues. We need to share it. I appeal to all my sensible friends to SHARE this message. When prejudicial acts happen, we need to stand by the victim and let him/her/them know that there is still a sizeable crowd that is willing to support them and call out the people who allow racism to happen.

We cannot allow bullies to get their way and pretend that they can easily get away with matters like this with a simple apology. We cannot accept unequal treatment from happening. It can be a cancellation of a ride today but it will become something far worse tomorrow. We cannot.

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