Singapore needs clear laws on discrimination and racism

 

(Info: Heidi has declined to speak with us and remarks she would like to take the matter privately with Light Art Studio Pte Ltd)

 

Both Heidi and Bosco Cheng of Light Art Studio Pte Ltd have gone to the police to make reports. But have you wondered, what is the point of these reports?

The police are there to conduct investigations into criminal matters. The boss of the lighting company has a potential criminal matter on his hands if there is impersonation of him or misrepresentation of his company. He also has a case if someone physically harms him (of which none has happened yet).

Heidi however, does not have a criminal case on her hand. As disgusting as it is, discrimination and racist remarks made in private are not crimes and do not flout any statutory law.

There is nothing the Ministry of Manpower can do – apart from shaming the company in public, or refusing their foreign manpower permits. There is a Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) and there have been numerous television advertisements lodged by them – but it remains to be seen what investigative and punitive powers TAFEP actually has.

TAFEP requires someone (anyone) to make a report before they can take action… it is uncertain if anyone has done so. But seriously, this story is all over the internet. If TAFEP was a proactive organisation, they would have taken their heads out of the sand and made a comment.

Bosco has a very strong civil case against Heidi if indeed Light Art Studio is innocent. She could be liable for damages to the company’s reputation, the director’s reputation and the losses incurred because of the incident.

However, if somehow Light Art Studio was not innocent – a Court case would be highly detrimental to them. All the legal counsel has to do is demonstrate that the person Heidi is communicating with is from the company or related to the management.

Many countries have some form of discriminatory laws that allow the criminal justice system to prosecute employers for behaviours like this. It is high time that Singapore consider something like this.

Is this a one-off incident? We’re not so sure.

Singapore is a country where the majority race is Chinese…and when you belong to the majority race, perhaps there are issues that hurt other people but to you, it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all.

Take for example: speaking in Chinese/Hokkien when there is a minority race around.

It doesn’t matter if your staff is Muslim, vegetarian, homosexual, ugly, pretty, handicapped – work should always be about work and hiring should always be based on the ability of a person. So what if Heidi couldn’t eat pork or join them in company events? Is company cohesion based only on food or events?

Let us use the Heidi case as an opportunity for learning….and to have deep thoughts about how we treat minority races.

 

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About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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