Kirsten Han 韩俐颖
Wed Jul 31 17:57:43 +0000 2019

1/ Over the past day or so I have seen, or been shown by friends, social media posts like these that claim I am the “biggest racist” and am trying to “stir racial riots” in #Singapore. Let’s look at what all this kerfuffle is about...

2/ It starts with this: An ad campaign for a nationwide cashless e-payment system put together by @havas and @tca_celebrity featuring a Chinese Singaporean actor in brownface.

3/ Flagged by @RubyThiagarajan, who in turn saw it from a friend’s Instagram, this takes off on social media and there’s plenty of criticism and outrage. @havas and @tca_celebrity issue an apology. But the apology, it lame.

4/ This, it must be noted, is not the first time brownface has come up in contemporary #Singapore. Nor is it the second time. Or the third. Despite our high PISA rankings for education, this is one lesson we can’t seem to freakin’ learn.

5/ This is also a context in which political leaders feel comfortable saying things like how we can’t have a non-Chinese prime minister ‘cos some undefined group of “older Singaporeans” are “not ready” (and apparently we have to abide by their racism).

6/ Almost one in four Singaporeans say they have experienced ethnic discrimination while renting property, with Indians disproportionately affected. So yes, racism is real in #Singapore and it is in this context the brownface happens.

7/ Justifiably fed-up, @plspreeti and @subhasmusic make a rap video entitled “K Muthusamy” (the name of the character they invented for the brownface character—yes they went that far) asking (racist) Chinese Singaporeans to stop fucking it up.

8/ AND GUESS WHAT... someone makes a police report... about the video calling out racism. And the police open an investigation into the video for “offensive content”. 😒😒😒

9/ I, along with many other Singaporeans, called it out for the farce it is. And for that memes have sprouted, seemingly mostly from pro-PAP pages or trolls, labelling me a racist and accusing me of wanting race riots in #Singapore.

10/ Government ministers and MPs—some who are themselves ethnic minorities—have swiftly condemned the rap video: and

11/ There‘s also an effort to make sure the video isn’t seen/spread (although I last found a link here: Singaporeans who reposted the video—including @jolovanwham—have reported being ordered by @IMDAsg to remove it within 6 hours:

12/ @ChannelNewsAsia, owned by @mediacorp who also owns @tca_celebrity that was involved in the brownface ad, has also dropped @subhasmusic from a documentary. Yup, @mediacorp was involved in brownface but apparently the rapper is the one who gets cut.

13/ It’s so sad that this opportunity to address racism head on in #Singapore is instead now an exercise in turning on minorities who dared to fiercely and openly call out the shit they see, and to portray people who defend them as wanting to incite racial riots.

14/ These hysterical accusations about stirring racial riots are not in the best interests of our society, especially since they are being used to silence and suppress more important conversations about race, racism, discrimination and marginalisation. 😫

15/ Here is @RubyThiagarajan with a must-read on this whole mess: “Brownface treats race like a costume. Brownface is dehumanising because it reduces minorities to caricatures that the majority gets to laugh at.”

16/ Also today I heard that someone has uploaded the rap video to PornHub... 😂

17/ “Riots like Hong Kong!” is now a hysterical bogeyman among some segments of #Singapore. 😑

18/ YAAAAAASSSSS this response from @plspreeti and @subhasmusic

Also, thank you @awarenews for this handy guide:

20/ This statement from @mhasingapore on @plspreeti and @subhasmusic bravely refusing to be silenced about racism in #Singapore is just vindictive.

21/ @facebook said they take down things that violate community standards or a country’s law. So which is it? Is the rap video in violation of community standards, or the law? If the latter, how did FB conclude this, since investigations are ongoing?

22/ So this was from before the uproar kicked off, and had been reported by @STcom, although they didn’t use this big group photo: We should really be asking ourselves how the ad could have gone through so many people without someone saying something.