Local playwright Alfian Sa’at has debunked the People’s Association and defended the couple who had their photo used without consent.
#1: They did not say that PA perpetuates a racist culture
PA had accused the wife, Ms Sarah, of claiming that it perpetuates a racist culture. According to Alfian Sa’at, she was only sharing something someone else had written – that there is a racist culture and Chinese Singaporeans should be more educated about minority communities. She did not say that using her photo perpetuated a racist culture.
#2: They did not refer to the PA’s error as a racist incident
Ms Sarah did not directly say that it was a “racist incident”. In fact, she just wanted to tell Singaporeans that they are all stakeholders in an issue like this.
#3: They did not say that PA staff are “blind to racism”
Ms Sarah only asked if the MP of Radin Mas had noticed the error. Not once did she say that the staff and volunteers are blind to racism.
Alfian Sa’at felt that the PA had misunderstood the couple and taken their words out of context. He also thinks that PA had missed the point – it’s not that Ms Sarah has an agenda; she only wanted to spread awareness and tell Singaporeans that this is something that involves everyone.
“There’s often talk about how ‘racial harmony’ is supposed to be a work in progress, but I often wonder whether the emphasis is on the ‘in progress’ part than the actual work.
Because for me, one of the most important work is dialogue – real dialogue with those on the other side of the aisle, not stage-managed ones of vetted questions and screened guest lists. I dream of the day when PA can have a dialogue with Ms Sarah, or when Zaobao editors can have one with the scholars who wrote in to them on their coverage of racial issues. It’s a dream that’s entirely within reach.”