Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Foreigner scolds Singaporeans, Singaporean scolds Singaporeans!

It took me while to recover from the horror described in the letter below.

I'm even more stunned by how this Singaporean (Shaun Jalleh) who has lived in Singapore all these years can be surprised that Singaporeans sat quietly as abuse was hurled against them by a tyranical racist. This Singaporean is also upset that Singaporeans did not stand up for themselves and was disappointed with the apathetic nature of his fellow citizens.

I want to assure Shaun Jalleh that it is not the fault of the Singaporeans on the bus that they did nothing nothing as abuse was hurled at them. Standing up to tyranny just doesn't pay in Singapore, it is better to remain silent and mind your own business. Singaporeans have been conditioned over long periods of time to accept various abuses - be it companies raising prices by abusing their monopolistic positions or the detention of men who were infected with alternative ideas - speaking up always proves to be useless and changes nothing. It is more economical to sit quietly and pretend nothing is happening.

July 10, 2007

Tirade of racial abuse aboard bus and no one bothered to act

ON JULY 4, while travelling on bus service 16, my fellow passengers and I were the victims of racial abuse. The incident was sparked by a person who boarded the bus but had no change for bus fare. At that moment, an elderly Caucasian woman came up and offered to pay the fare for that person. She did this while raising her voice and commenting that Singaporeans will never help anyone but themselves and that all Singaporeans were money-minded.

She even went so far as to add a four-letter vulgarity before the word 'Singaporean' in every sentence she uttered. At that moment, I could not remain silent any longer and I interrupted her, merely uttering the words, 'excuse me'. It was then that her racial slurs began, referring to Chinese people as 'chinks' and how she hated all of them. I then accused her of being a racist which she freely admitted to being, all the while adding again the four-letter vulgarity directed at all 'chinks'.

She then remarked to the entire bus how Chinese people could not speak proper English, adding that she did not know how they could see owing to their small eyes.
To say the least, I was shocked and horrified by her bigotry. Being lost for words and disgusted at her deplorable behaviour, I just called her a disgrace.
After the dust had settled, I found myself utterly disappointed at how such a small and hateful person was allowed on our shores, if in fact she was in Singapore on a long-term basis.
However, I was even more disappointed in the extreme apathetic nature of my fellow Singaporeans. This racial abuse lasted a good five minutes on a bus packed full of Singaporeans who had just finished work, and no one except me had shown disapproval of this verbal abuse.

Everyone just sat there without saying a word. If we Singaporeans do not stand up for ourselves in the face of such blatant tyranny, who will? The ironic thing is that I am Eurasian and my girlfriend is German and I was the only one who said something when she went on her racial tirade.

This debacle has left me with the opinion that our Government's drive towards attracting foreign talent needs to be approached with great caution. More stringent checks on potential immigrants are required, which should not be solely based on paper credentials, but on their sentiments towards Singapore and their people. One bigot allowed to grace the country I love is one too many.

Shaun Jalleh



Anonymous said...

Terrorist has a higher chance of striking Singapore than UK or US due to Singaporeans struggle to cope with increased cost of living.

I hope ISD will not invite me for coffee due to the above-mentioned remark.

Anonymous said...

did the "captain" of our "first-world" transport company do anything about it? maybe we shld call upon sbs, or SINGAPORE bus service company to explain their guidelines on handling such incident...

this reminds me of one of my teachers in school: she always said our class was like the "dead sea". she cld scold us all day long and we wld just remain quiet.

apathy, definitely a singaporean "value".

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans dont like confrontations or awkward situations, i guess.

One woman's racist tirade is not reflective of all foreigners. She only did it because she knows she'll get away with it.

I'd probably leave her alone too. The moment you engage, she will use it to get louder and more abusive.

But i'm curious though - the person who received change from her, that person just kept quiet, and accepted her comments?

Anonymous said...

haha...english arrogance. Ignorant fool (whether the Singaporeans are fools also is another matter).

Can't speak English 'properly' = no hopers? Go back to colonial times la.

Anonymous said...

We deserve it.
I don't feel any horror.

This country worships the white race. We bend over till we hear the crack sound. We elevate anyone who is able to put on an ang moh accent. We embrace second rate "talents" from Ang Moh countries. We have pseudo-white media whores with fancy "white" surnames that possess not a gram of white DNA and yet kept their ridiculous last name even when their white-step-trash-father has already abandoned them. We have cheap sluts who choose only to date only white men.
We have jackasses that adopt ang moh last names as thair first names. ("Hi, I'm Lincoln Chew")
We even have chinese going to attend services at the Church of England where the head is the QE II !

Why are we shocked or surprised when the ang mohs gives us no respect ?

Footnote : Idiots on the bus probabily thought the white women was refering to people from China. Afterall, as many of us know, we are NOT chinese. We are SINGAPOREAN.

Anonymous said...

This is Singapore GOLDEN age, the sound of silence. This is the social engineering to ensure that the pappies rule forever

Anonymous said...

What happens is just a typical result of a people subject to too many years of being brought up in an environment where speaking up or bringing things up does't change the situation. They are also afraid that if they say the wrong things, they will get into trouble and therefore they became obedient citizens and the silent majority.

Anonymous said...

we should bring in more racists. what sinkapore needs is a good dose of bad FTs

Capt_Canuck said...

Sounds like all countries face the same problems. A lot of Canadians have nearly the same feeling as this Singaporean woman due to the flood of foreigners flooding our shores and work market. Tighter immigration to keep out the greedy immigrates and only let in those that want to change and become like the country, instead of forcing the country to change to the immigrants.

Definitly the caucasian woman was in the wrong since why does it matter that Singaporeans don't speak the English language perfectly? Not like English is their first tongue. Since the population is mainly chinese with the other languages around, wouldn't it be the caucasians duty to learn chinese (whatever dialect is around) than forcing Singaporeans to speak English? After all, the British left the colony long ago and LKY took over to make it his own.

Though, one thing I found interesting in the woman's letter was when she said 'then the racial slurs began refering to chinese people as chinks'. I find this interesting since living in Canada I always assumed 'chinks' to be a derogatory term for chinese and avoided using it. Then, while in Singapore, I learned that I, as a caucasian, am an 'Ang Moh'. I did some digging and found it to mean 'red haired monkey' in one dialect and it was used as a term to describe the English colonists. Seems that is not a derogatory slur and my Singaporean girlfriend and her friends were amazed I was being sensitive. 'Chink' came about because chink means a 'narrow opening, crack of fissue'. Chinese have eyes that, to a wide eyed caucasian, are narrow and like a crack or fissue. So, if Singaporeans can throw the word 'ang moh' around so freely to the extent of actually naming an LRT stop by that (Ang Moh Kio - isnt that 'white man bridge'?), then why can't a caucasian woman call chinese people chinks, since it only means 'fissure like eyed people'?

undergrad said...

My classmate from China, who is quite careful with what he says, recently made a remark: What's wrong with Singaporeans? My sincere reply to him: What do you think is wrong with this country? His answer: dictatorship. LOL

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are too busy making money to stay alive.

Who cares about racist remarks?

What pride, what honour for being singaporean is bullshit.

Money $$$$ is the King.


Anonymous said...

capt_canuck - Ang Moh means red(ang) hair(moh) in the Hokkien dialect. When someone says Ang Moh Kao (monkey)then it translates to red hair monkey. When "ang moh" is use in the Singapore context it just means red hair person literally or white person. Only when using Ang moh kao (red hair monkey), then it is meant to be an insult to the white person.

Also, Ang Mo Kio has always means Tomato to us Hokkiens. Again it depends on what context you use it in. You are right it also translated to White Man Bridge (Kio meaning bridge) or literally red hair bridge. We always tease our friend or relatives who live there that they live in Tomato Estate. For the life of me to this day I don't understand how they named the Estate Ang Mo Kio. Perhaps someone in HDB at that time has a dry sense of humor or there is an underlying meaning that we the average Sinagporeans did not get.

Capt_Canuck said...

Anon - 6:32 AM

Thanks for the clear up. Guess Ang Mo is more of a wrong way to describe me since I am not red haired (and the only caucasians that have more red hair than any other colour would be the scottish), whereas chink is a fine way to describe chinese since their eyes are usually almond shaped (unless there is some European blood in them). Or are you saying that both chink and Ang Mo are both insults and derogatory since they refer to people by a stereotypical attribute and not to the individuals racial background?

Christopher said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the derogatory term 'chinks' referred to people under the Ching Dynasty more so than a 'narrow opening, crack or fissure'.

Conversely, I don't think the term 'Ang Mo' is derogatory, even if you have no red hair (as with most Caucasians anyway). It's just a generalization of all Caucasians regardless of where they come from - similar to how Americans call everybody from Middle East to Japan 'Asians'.

Anonymous said...

Actually I'm interested to know the ethnic ancestry of the poor passenger who didn't have the bus fare. Was he local Singaporean/ asian?

If so , its embarassing that no fellow Singaporeans / asians offeed to help him by paying the fare for him. Instead its a foreign caucasian who helped.

It also highlights that the causasian woman may not be so racist after all; inspite of her later remarks.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans in the bus did not speak up because they probably do not understand what the white lady said. Unless she speaks singlish, I doubt any singaporean will speak anything against her abuse. Furthermore, singaporeans are shy to speak good english to that white lady. Also, that white lady will not understand our singlish too. So, singaporeans had to just keep silent.

Anonymous said...

To capt canuck who said; "whereas chink is a fine way to describe chinese(small letter) since their eyes are usually almond shaped(unless there is some European(capital letter) blood in them." unquote. You dig deep in your sarcastic post, don't you? I detect another white racist reading the posts here or am I too sensitive?

Anonymous said...

Having posted the above to capt canuck, I must say that our speak 'good english' campaign is making a very good mockery of Singaporeans. 'Angmoh' Singaporeans are not but are told time and again to speak 'good angmoh' language. Please dig deeper at the campaigners!

Anonymous said...

capt canuck, I'm the anon 6.32am.

It is a sad reality that we as a human race in every culture feel the need to label, stereotype anyone who is different from us, does not believe what we believe, etc. Such is the world we live in. I will not go into the racist meaning in words in all the world's languages and cultures.

Its also a sad fact that the generation of Chinese Singaporeans who were born when the Speak Mandarin campaign started in the late 1970's do not know speak or understand their mother tongues (meaning the dialects of their parents, and not mandarin). Most of that generation and this current generation of young Singaporeans sadly can't communicate with their grandparents or even great grandparents who could only speak their dialects and not Mandarin or English. Its such a great loss to their roots. I see that in my own family. I was fortunate to be born in the late 1950's whereby Hokkien was truly my mother tongue and not mandarin (both my parents were Hokkien). I only learn English & Mandarin when I started primary school.

It is an accepted fact that "Ang Moh" originated from the Hokkien dialect when Singapore was a British colony. This term Ang Moh is used to describe any white person. Why do the Hokkien Chinese called the white person Ang Moh (literally means red hair)? I don't know. I wasn't alive during the times when the early Hokkiens from the southern province of Fujian settled in Singapore. I can only speculate that perhaps they see quite a few white persons who were redheads & thus thats how they describe any white person, be they bald, white haired, grey hair, salt & pepper hair, blonde, brunette or redhead, etc. etc. You get the drift. Ang Moh by itself is not a derogatory term, just a label the early Hokkien Chinese immigrants used in their language to describe a white person. Like I said before, if someone wants to insult a white person, it will be "Ang moh kao", literally red hair monkey plus I'm sure a whole slew of other Hokkien expletives. Believe me I do know them & I'm of the female gender.

Isn't language etymology interesting to know? In my next life I would like to be an anthropology linguist.

Anonymous said...

Terrorist striking Singapore ? Come on, terrorist couldn't even bother with a country that lack compassionate and humanity that rule by exploitative and authorian gov who love MeeSiam Mum Hum.

Because our gov has become so terrible because of their money-loving characters.

Terrorist probably so disgust on our gov that they leave us alone because the terrorist took pity on these millions of helpless chicken like me. Quake, Quake, Quake.

Anonymous said...

I've heard a fair number of racial slurs against caucasians too here in Singapore. I have heard a group of Chinese behind the counter in a store make racist remarks about a white lady when she was standing right there next to them. But they were speaking Mandarin, so she couldn't understand them. That is still quite sad though. Maybe the lady in this case is right about Singaporeans not wanting to help the bus rider. The writer was so angry about her comments that he took all this effort to complain, but he didn't bother to help the bus rider pay his fare. The way Singaporeans throw around "ang moh" all the time likely makes Caucasians THINK that we are racist just because of the slang, regardless of whether they know the meaning or not. That matters too. We should stop using that word. It's not nice. No wonder she used the word "chink" after hearing herself slurred every day.

Anonymous said...

Just a word of clarification to Capt Canuck On the word 'ang moh'.
Ang Moh only means RED Hair... like u call a person a red head.. meaning he/she has red hair. Only if we add 'Gau' = monkey (yes) or 'Kwee' = devil would it hinge on being in bad taste. I have not heard anyone in recent times calling caucasians in that fashion as we are a very tolerant lot compared to our forefathers.

Anonymous said...

Time for bit of honesty! Racism is alive and well in Singapore - among ourselves!

Just think about it.. How often have we heard or used the terms "ang mo kwai'" "m___ kwai" or just plain "keling" " bladdy bangla" in conversation? ( I make it clear I don't condone using these terms)

How many times have we heard, laughed at or made remarks about certain race being"lazy / stupid" or another race being " drunkards or wife beaters"

In our work place, how many times have we heard discussions on hiring new staff / reviewing job applicants where it is openly stated on seeing a non Chinese applicant photo" eee..(race)...don't want.."

BTW Capt canuck is right - The term "Ang Moh" is racist and insulting , just as the same as the term "Ch- - - . Lets stop using both those terms!

Anonymous said...

In this case, it seems that old lady was an idiot....but what are you going to do to an old lady. Get over it. And the suggestions about screening people more thoroughly? haha..good luck.

Unfortunately racism is alive and well everywhere and practiced by all sorts of people. I'd like to add a point about the "ang mo" phenomenon. If I go around calling chinese "slant eye" or something like that will you get upset? I don't appreciate being called "ang mo" for what it's worth and I don't have red hair. You should always think of how the other person may feel about your words, not only whether you think it's "ok".

Capt_Canuck said...

Anon 11:22AM - Nice to know that people now a days are more tolerant than the forefathers, and yet no one has spoken up about the Ang Mo Kio LRT station and HDB housing division to have it renamed to something less offensive to the caucasian culture. I am sure that if the British had named a section of Singapore "Chink Causeway" that would have been the first to have been changed when Singapore gained complete independance of it. I know that if we had a MRT station called "Chink Bridge" here in Canada, it would have been changed so fast that your head would spin.

Guess since the forefathers (Lee family) are still running the show, the name won't change til more 'tolerant' people are in office, huh?

Zai said...

For goodness' sake. It does not MATTER what the word means. If you want to break up a word into its constituent parts, you obviously don't know how language works. ESPECIALLY the chinese language.

Why are you being so sensitive? Chink, White Man, Black, Negro, Ang Mo. Whatever. Ang Mo now simply means caucasian. Nobody means ANY form of disrespect to your sensitive hearts and ears when he uses that term. The WORD itself does not matter, but the usage of it. If white people had been slaves instead, WHITE could be used as an insult.

Tell me, how many times have you heard "chink" being heard used in a neutral sense? Did this elderly woman (whose GROSS indecency you are trying to mitigate by pointing back at Singaporeans) use the word Chink with any sense of respect, or even neutrality? Considering the context of her tirade, maybe if you cared to, considering even the fact that she said "fucking chinks" instead of chinks, you might start to imagine, maybe she's not using "chink" as a term of endearment.

Don't be too sensitive and waste time and energy (especially not that of others) because you "don't like" Singlish. Ang Mo means caucasian. Period. In this society which you are trying to discuss. Whether it is an insult or not depends on the intention.

If you're offended by something as simple as this without even having bothered to find out about Singlish adequately... You'll puff yourself up and explode when you hear a normal Singaporean Hokkien conversation.

You can start again once we rename the station to Fucking Ang Mo Kio.

Anonymous said...

Zai: It sounds like you're the one who "exploded". A little insecure are we? Your comments are worthless.

Anonymous said...

"Ang mo" doesn't mean "caucasion". And the whole point is, if you put a label on someone..they usually do not like it. Period. Understand? Or do I have to break it down in singlish for you lah?

I find it amusing that you are so self righteous to think that whatever you say is acceptable regardless of what other people think. That is rather insensitive. Here you have several different people telling you they don't appreciate being called a particular word but you are too ignorant to listen. It's not going to ruin my day though and I won't write a letter to the newspaper to try and cure my low self esteem and shallow ego.

By the way, no one is trying to deflect blame of the old woman. We're just discussing racial issues while we're on topic. And if you think Singaporeans don't engage in racial name calling you're sadly mistaken.

zai said...

Since it seemed to be your (anonymous 6:33) final and most important conclusion, I will say this right now: I am not blind to the blatant and terrible racism that some (no small number) Singaporeans display, even to each other.

Anonymous 6:18, I admit, I did explode. I exploded because I saw Capt_Canuck as trying to mitigate what the old woman did, by pointing the finger back at us when that finger isn't even pointing at something that really exists. Like what you said, nobody is trying to deflect the blame, but he is trying to shift the focus, hoping that by finding a new target with new things to blame about them, we would forget about or forgive the original offender. What am I insecure about?

Yes, I was self-righteous. How could I bring my arguments through if I kept telling you "However I am totally deluded and my views are all severly twisted" every other sentence? How could you even carry on an argument convinced that you are wrong? Maybe you didn't like my indignant tone; fine.

You are accusing me of being insensitive to people who do not like to be called certain things, for example Ang Mo. In fact, in a comment I had posted on the blog of Capt_Canuck himself (which has now apparently been deleted), I mentioned that should someone not wish to be called an Ang Mo, a Chink, a Negro... anything at all, then you should respect his sensitivities and NOT call him that in his presence. However this is by virtue of your respect of another individual's wishes, NOT because there is something inherently wrong with the word itself.

I find your usage of "label" somewhat weird. When we "label" someone, it usually means calling him a name which we have chosen to deliberately carry negative connotations. As such I do not consider Caucasian a label. I do not consider Asian a label. I do not consider Chinese a label, because that's what we are and the word itself is neutral for all intents and purposes.

Anonymous 6:33, I accept your proposal, for now, that Ang Mo doesn't mean Caucasian. Please inform me of a proper, neutral, fairly commonly-used alternative, because a word that nobody uses virtually does not exist.

zai said...

Capt_Canuck said he honestly didn't delete it. I am willing to attribute its absence to machine error.

Anonymous said...

What the woman said was wrong, not all singaporeans are so selfish -minded. Let me offer the view of a singaporean, firstly, i have seen passengers offering to pay for the fare of a child who have no money/change. But if the one who boarded the bus without a fare/change and is an adult, no passenger would bother to come forward to help because they would immediately assume that the person is trying to get a free rideby cheating the bus driver and, because the person is an adult, he/she can take care of herself.

Secondly, on why singaporeans chose to renmain silent in the bus. Many of us who have grown up in Singapore from young would have had hundreds of experiences with nagging woman and have already learnt to keep silent when we do not know what to do.
Another reason could be because the caucasian woman is elder, thus we merely want to be respectful to the elderly(what we've been taught to do, although this probably does not apply to the elderly woman).
ANOTHER reason could also be because she is caucasian and does not speak singlish. Thus, people would treat her as a typical elderly woman who likes to rant and rave. Most people would probably not take her comments to heart anyway seeing as she is an elderly woman.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are shy and are brought up to mind our own biz.

So let's just let the disgruntled old white woman rant and rave all she wants. I pity her for her unenlightened perspective and tunnel vision. She is probably suffering from severe inferiority complex being a caucasian living in an Asian country, yet she is not as well off as her compatriot as evidenced by her having to take the public transport. Being old, down and out in a foreign land where most of her race are doing rather well, let us Singaporeans show some compassion and tolerate her crazy outburse borne out of her pant-op frustration.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans should mind their own racist behaviors while criticizing those of others. Everyone has some guilt here.

Anonymous said...

chalk it up to sexual frustration.
white women cant get laid around here. at least not by a white man. the white guys are are all off with the slim, young, pretty locals.

Anonymous said...

tt's bcus the racist havent met those gangsters yet..huahuahau

sure kena hantam one...

anyway singaporeans are good at watching...kiasu wad...and dare not talk back... just gossip behind only...act superior behind but wen in real situations all the sudden become very 'forgiving' and 'polite'....

transex roma said...

This will not work as a matter of fact, that is what I believe.

Sean said...

Hi generally we do not mean to be derogatory when we used Ang Mo. And it just mean Red Hair. If you hear Ang Mo Gao,then it means Red Hair Ape. Ang Mos generally are hairy, hence the elders like to refer to them as Ang Mo Gao. Also the elders probably went through colonial rule and was treated as second class citizens. Inventing this term probably was a way to keep mentally sane in those days