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Ang mohs rioted meh? Not South Asians? Workers’ dorms are multi-racial?

In Economy on 18/11/2014 at 5:14 am

Racist joint-exercise at dormitory? 

Khaw Boon Wan had said the exercise was to “test our response capability” so that when “quarrels erupt, leading to fights or worse” the police will know what to do. it was not that obvious that they knew what to do in Little India.

Going by the KPKBing by people like Kirsten Han*, Alex Au** and Andrew Loh***, accusing the National Development Minister and the police of “racism” after he posted photos of a police training exercise involving a staged riot of South Asian workers, http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201411111855-0024331, I can only conclude that some people don’t know the facts about the Little India riot, and who lives in the dormitories.

I didn’t realise until I read the trio that there was doubt on the identity of the Little India rioters. Everything I read said that it was the South Asians that did it.

On the racial mix in dorms, all the evidence that I have heard is that the dorms in the main (if not only) house people from the Indian sub-continent. Evidence:

— The supermarkets serving the dorms sell extra-strength imported beers from India. They don’t carry imported beers from PRC or Thailand or elsewhere.

— Someone who visited a dorm or two only saw only people from the Indian sub-continent.

So if the purpose of the exercise was to “test our response capability”, waz wrong with using people who reside in the dorms?

Why must the “fake rioters” include other races?

Let me be clear: if the dorms are not predominantly (if not exclusively) used to house South Asian workers, and the Little India rioters were multi-racial or from another ethnic group, I would agree with the criticism especially that of Alex Au cited below. But they ain’t. (Now attacking the racial composition of the dorms might be a better bet, depending on the mix of FTs here).

Sometimes I wonder if the diabolical trio so hate the PAP administration and its works that when it comes to analysing the administration’s actions, they resemble the looney TRE ranters who scream,”PAP is always wrong” whatever the facts.

As the UK’s Guardian (I assume this left-wing paper is their favourite newspaper) says, “Facts are scared”. It also says “Comment is free”.

The diabolical trio should leave bad analysis and mis representations to the ex-minister, now chairman of Temasek who lamented how a surplus of millions turned into a deficit of hundreds of thousands when the WP took over the running of Aljunied, conveniently forgetting that the surplus was “locked away” when Aljunied voters liberated themselves.

——————

*The racist prejudices on display in the exercise are so stark that I’m  surprised Khaw has failed to recognise them, let alone be bold enough to share the photo on social media. 

In the aftermath of the Little India riot the government was quick to reassure Singaporeans that this was a “one-off” incident (although their actions – and the coverage of the mainstream media – repeatedly suggested that the whole issue was being treated otherwise). 

Yet Khaw has now centred the issue of violence and unruly conduct on migrant workers, linking the “possible scenario” of “fights or worse” to the “concentration of foreign workers in one locality”.

As the exercise showed only South Asian-looking men, it doesn’t take a very deep reading to get the message: when there are many foreign workers of a certain race in one area, violent clashes are more likely to happen. 

It’s a sentiment built upon prejudice and ignorance. It completely fails to take into consideration context, or acknowledge the double standards that we so openly practise. The South Asian men who work in the construction and marine industries in Singapore endure conditions that no Singaporean will tolerate. Their wages are embarrassingly low for the responsibilities they have and the hours they work. Overtime is a staple of their working lives, because their basic salary is so meagre. Dormitories are sometimes cramped, their whole lives crammed into the size of a bunk bed. I’ve met men who told me about sharing a bathroom with a hundred others, making a simple task like taking a shower require an hour of standing in line to achieve. Sleep is sometimes hard to come by if you’re sleeping in a large room with about 80 others – there’s always someone going in or out, or talking on the phone.

In this environment, is it still so surprising that nerves fray and tempers flare, resulting in occasional clashes? Yet we would rather carry out simulation exercises that allow the state to triumph over these men than to address roots causes of animosity and anger.

The assumption that South Asian migrant workers are more prone to violence is itself problematic. Fights don’t only break out among these workers. The same goes for drunkenness and disorderly behaviour. Yet we don’t see law enforcement carrying out simulation exercises with Caucasian expats or white-collar workers – or God forbid, Singaporeans — hanging out in Clarke Quay or any watering hole downtown.

A lot of high faluting words and sentiments from this ang moh tua kee lady (even though she fingers them for hooliganish behaviour). But she forgets two things:

— the people who rioted were not ang mohs but from the Indian sub-continent; and

— where got riots in Clarke Quay or any watering hole downtown? The riot was in Little India.

So spare us the sanctimonious BS. They reveal her prejudices and hang-ups more than enlighten us on the misdeeds of the wicked PAP administration.

**Significant numbers of Singaporeans just feel it to be wrong to single out any group by race or nationality in a way that casts aspersions on them. This is a morally illegitimate approach, they were saying. It indicates a much more acute sensitivity in the post-independence generation to using race and nationality categorisation thoughtlessly. It may also indicate a resistance to drawing a distinction between migrant workers and ourselves, such that targetting migrant workers in this way struck them as unacceptable.

Maybe “significant numbers” (though I doubt it unless it means significant numbers of ang moh tua kees or anti-PAP paper warriors) but I don’t think the majority has an issue here. Minorities do not rule OK. Being in the majority has its privileges.

But Alex makes serious and valid points when he says a much more acute sensitivity in the post-independence generation to using race and nationality categorisation thoughtlessly. It may also indicate a resistance to drawing a distinction between migrant workers and ourselves.

It’s juz that, given the facts, using the photos and the exercise is a lousy example of casual, unthinking racism and class distinction .

***And here perhaps is why asking both Indian and Bangladeshi “ambassadors”, as Mr Khaw described them, to participate in the drill held at a dormitory where they stay, is offensive to some.

The insinuation is that these – Indians and Bangladeshis – are more prone to rioting or causing unrest.

It feeds into the misrepresentation that South-asians are more susceptible to violent means than others – although evidence does not support such a claim.

And here perhaps is why asking both Indian and Bangladeshi “ambassadors”, as Mr Khaw described them, to participate in the drill held at a dormitory where they stay, is offensive to some.

The insinuation is that these – Indians and Bangladeshis – are more prone to rioting or causing unrest.

It feeds into the misrepresentation that South-asians are more susceptible to violent means than others – although evidence does not support such a claim.

Clarke Quay, where Caucasian expats and Singaporean executives spend their time when away from work.

Just one and a half years ago, the Chinese newspaper Shin Min reported a rather alarming statistic:

It said that “each year, an average of 170 fights or violent acts break out in the Clarke Quay area.”

Read that again – “170 fights or violent acts”.

In the Clarke Quay area.

That’s an average of one fight or violent act every other day.

Is there any foreign workers dormitory which comes close to such a situation in comparison?

Isn’t this missing the point? Who rioted in Little India? The first riot since 1965. Ang mohs and theie SPGs? Where got riot in Clark Quay?

Come on. pill the other leg. It’s got bells on it.

 

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  1. […] – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Ang mohs rioted meh? Not South Asians? Workers’ orms are multi-racial? […]

  2. Have to disagree with you there. In a previous counter terror exercise by the SAF at some Sentosa resort, they did not have specific race or demographic type to play the terrorists.

    So in this case I am not sure why race plays a part, and using Indians make it more authentic. They could simply get a bunch of SCDF or SPF recruits to play the rioters. It is like army ATEC where there is an opfor.

    I used to actually think Andrew Loh is another TRE ranter type fellow. But no, after he played a leading role on social media in exposing Roy and gang after the HLP incident, my respect for him went up a few notches and I’m inclined to hear what he has to say.

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