Just a few months ago, member of parliament (MP) for Sengkang Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Raeesah Khan got into trouble for alleged racist comments on her personal social media feeds. In those posts that were labelled “racist” by authorities were (if common sense were to prevail) impassioned pleas for equality in Singapore.
While her choice of words could have been better, it bears remembering that as a minority commenting about racism from the majority Chinese population, it is very odd that she was labelled racist when far worse things have been said by the majority Chinese population about minorities with little or no sanction.
An example of this would be Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat’s public statement in an interview that older Singaporeans were not ready for a non Chinese Prime Minister. Heng is much more high profile than Khan and has direct involvement in public policy. His words have much more weight than Khan. Yet. in his case, police reports were dismissed with seeming uncommon haste while Khan’s were left hanging for months!
To compound matters, Heng made his statement without any empirical data and faced with these facts:
- The Leader of the Opposition, Pritam Singh, is not Chinese; and
- arguably one of the most popular members of the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), Tharman Shanmugaratnam, is not Chinese,
it all seems rather unfair isn’t it?
This all took place in the heat of general election campaigning and Khan’s social media activity triggered a public apology from Khan (surrounded by prominent members of the Workers’ Party (WP)). Not content with that however, police reports were apparently filed against her which in turn triggered a police investigation which resulted in Khan taking office under the cloud of potential police action hanging over her head.
Finally, there seems to be some resolution for Khan. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) have now issued a stern warning to Khan for the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race. While this is surely better than criminal sanction (which was a possibility), why wasn’t Heng also issued a warning?
Some have also made the comparison between controversial blogger Xiaxue (real name, Wendy Cheng), who was not issued a warning for also posting rather provocative comments on her social media. The SPF stated that they have consulted the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which advised no further action in relation to the Xiaxue’s posts would be taken as the elements of an offence have not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.
Without casting aspersions on the investigation process, it does seem disquieting (at least to the layman) that there may not have been consistency on how different cases were dealt with. This does not build public trust and could fan the flame of speculation.