Racism exists, admitting it exists is the first step to healing

 

Question: Why haven’t we had a Malay President since Yusof Ishak?

There. The elephant in the room is pointed out.

We’ve been through nominated presidents, we’ve been through elected presidents. We’ve had times when the barriers to qualify was low and now we have barriers that are high. In all 52 years of modern Singapore history, we have only had one Malay President – why?

Let’s pause for a moment, there’s no hurry to answer this question.

For now, I’d like to take your attention to the United States of America. For those of you not updated with the latest news, i’ll sum it up for you: the racists are emboldened.

Racism is not dead, it had never died. It had merely burrowed itself underground, fearful of tolerance, fearful of diversity, fearful of the powerful light of good things. But even underground, they carry out their evil practices. They continue recruiting. They wait for a day to fight back. In America, that’s what’s happening right now: they’re fighting back, they’re coming out of their burrows, their caves and their secret meetings.

Now, one might think that the easiest solution is to ban these organisations: the Ku Klux Klans and the neo-Nazis. One might think that it would be reasonable to give the police more power to curb this violence, to give the law more power to imprison people who stoke the fires of hatred and introduce polices to force a people to integrate…such as say, disallowing a single race neighbourhood and to implement racial quotas.

That is the logical way, but that is not the American way. Nevermind that, this isn’t America and it isn’t really our business.

What -is- our business, is that we don’t allow our society to devolve that way.

If the ground is telling you that “Chinese Supremacy” exists, we better sit up and listen. If there are property advertisements blatantly asking for your race, we know there is something wrong. If you have employers denying you employment because of your dietary restrictions, language or culture, we must admit it is racism.

We do not dress racism up in words such as “preference”, “entitlement” or “right”. You do not have a right to deny another human being an opportunity merely because you “do not like it”.

We are not above racism. Everyone denies it, but in practice it is there. I would really like to list the instances but that would make this already unpleasant article intolerable to read.

Whatever happens abroad, will spread in our direction. Now that racism is emboldened, how and where else will it manifest? It starts with small things: preference of a race, disguised as a joke…and slowly, it spreads…gets bolder and then one day, you wake up to your best friend telling you he’s openly racist and there’s nothing to hide anymore.

So let’s go back to the elephant in the room: it is still there. Why hasn’t our country had a Malay President since Yusof Ishak? In fact, why didn’t we have a President of a minority race that was properly elected?

If you’re a minority race in an overwhelming Chinese country, would you step up? What would you think of your chances of winning?

I’ll leave that question for us to think about.

Remember, the first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge that it exists in the first place.

 

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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