Thursday, December 22, 2011

Racist remarks indefensible


On his own Facebook page, your comrade and the honourable Member of Parliament, Seng Han Thong has reportedly said: “The staff are not trained for this emergency preparedness, they know how to prevent terrorist but even this one, they are not prepared so they follow a very strict kind of SOP, so they have to be flexible, and especially to deal with different kind of emergency whether it is terrorist attack or internal, system flaw. They are not ready. I notice that the PR mention that, some of the staff, because they are Malay, they are Indian, they can’t converse in English good, well enough, so that also deters them, from but I think we accept broken English.” (emphasis mine)

I am reminded of the time when another comrade of your political party, the dishonoured Choo Wee Kiang, abused the privileges of his august office to make similar remarks in Parliament.

Your party leaders at that time were happy to be indulgent and to condone such insensitivity, which strikes at the fabric of what it means to be Singaporean. Choo remained in office, and went on to be a criminal.

Seng has suggested that his comments “were mis-interpreted”. I am not sure how. Whatever way you construe it, his remarks are downright racist.

I still take the MRT. The lack of communication skills is an observation that cannot be limited to particular races within the workforce.

Seng is a highly-ranked member of the labour movement. I am concerned that his remarks will have an adverse effect on the inclusive work policies of a listed company like SMRT.

Seng should resign from his position in Parliament and the labour movement, notwithstanding his constructive contributions to date. These should be no places for harbouring a racist.

I hope, as my Member of Parliament, you will stand up and make this request, rather than follow the example of your predecessors to tolerate such insensitive leaders.

Dharmendra Yadav

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