The comments on and victims of the Little India Riot

Firstly, here is wishing the casualties well, extending our appreciation to the men and women on ground helping out yesterday, and also sympathy to the victims of this tragedy including those who felt injustice upon them, the injured driver and assistant, and also anyone at the scene so affected.

It is understood that there is some noise about some netizens making racist, xenophobic or otherwise insensitive remarks following the riots. The remarks in question seem to be that of offensive tone towards foreign workers, particularly those from India and Bangladesh that were involved in this incident.

These comments can come from both opposition supporters and ruling party supporters alike. We, in fact, believe the more sinister comments could even come from those that support the ruling class as they come from a more elitist point of view, looking down on the lower classes and possibly, the coloured races.

While that may be generalising towards people of a certain class, we cannot deny the fact that the deep nature of the ruling party is one aligned more to the right, with all-the-while overly-nationalistic overtones. Also, past experiences with ruling party figures making racially offensive remarks (and facing Parliament’s insensitivity; think Choo Wee Khiang’s case where the Speaker of Parliament did not feel Chiam’s call for order was warranted) give us more concern on institutional and higher-level prejudice and discrimination than those of individuals, although we cannot disregard that aspect as well.

And while we stand against offensive speech including those of racialist or xenophobic slant, small vibes and jokes, especially those that are not even sinister or ill, however, should not be blown out of proportion. This is especially so when ruling party supporters like to use some of our comments to discredit us in a way that is way unfair particularly because they themselves make the same mistakes from time to time.

Our cause needs to go on and we cannot be disturbed by the less-than-sensible amongst us. At the same time, we will not be deterred by those who intentionally want to thwart our cause by trying to paint us all in bad light.

We continue to question, and as we do so wisely and passionately, we try to gain the trust and respect of all Singaporeans so that we unite in bringing about a Singapore that can see a better future ahead.

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