So many important questions raised. From Matilda Gabrielpillai:
I’ve often wished that our majority population were a more conscious-stricken lot who were more committed to the pledge of racial equality. But as many in minority communities who have lost jobs, positions and opportunities due to closet racism will attest, you will not get your Chinese colleagues falling all over themselves to fight your cause. They’ll focus on trying to convince you that your loss of job/position/role was not about racism but about some airy-fairy, unidentifiable “something else”–so that both you and them can feel better. I’ve had colleagues even blithely continue to teach multiculturalism and preach/write anti-racism without missing a beat after remaining passive through such an incident.
It is a question we should ask ourselves: why are we creating such a huge fandango over reserving the presidency for a minority community when we couldn’t muster that kind of energy to oppose the Prime Minister position being always held for Chinese, given that the latter is the far more politically significant role? Why did we get so morally repulsed by the xenophobia in the country but never so revolted about the racism that has been operating here for decades?
Watching PJ Thum’s show on “The Elected Presidency and the Political Economy of Race” (link below in the ‘comments’ section), I wonder why Thum focusses on how the British constructed the Malay race as a social and political category but skips the narrative of the PAP’s construction of the Chinese as a race. Race in PAP politics didn’t start with the GRC–the ground for that was prepared through the late 1970s and the 1980s to shape the various Chinese cultural communities into a unified ‘race’ by destroying dialects, imposing Mandarin and ‘Confucianism’ on them and creating SAP schools to educate a new generation of a “Chinese cultural elite”. Academic institutions were created to produce and transmit a Mandarin ‘sikit atas’ Chinese culture that didn’t match the cultural heritage of most of our Chinese communities. Tell us the story of how the local Chinese responded to that. Did they march against it by the hundreds and thousands? Or did they think it was a jolly good idea and rushed to contribute to the making of this Chinese ‘race’?
More domestication of the truth in the show–those four CMIO boxes, they are not the same size in real life, are they? If depicted more realistically in terms of size, the discourse of each imagined race wanting more than that given to them will start to give off very different meanings than that of human beings always clamouring for more. Don’t belittle the minorities’ clamouring and make it the same about a majority’s clamouring–one is about equality, the other is for greater power. I wonder about the assumptions of someone who can even begin to construct those Singapore boxes as equal.
It would also be nice today when academics are all talking so glibly about CMIO in Singapore, to remember women like Sharon Siddique and Nirmala Purushottam and their courage in pioneering talk of this.