Rising anti-Indian sentiment in Singapore

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Dear friends in Singapore, I am writing because there appears to be an uptick in anti-South Asian prejudice recently, and I hope the moderate and sane among you can do what you can to extinguish little fires if and when you see them.

Seemingly harmless statements like “Eh, why Indians again ah?”, if left unchecked, can lead to resentment, if even in the smallest, most subconscious of ways.

Of course I don’t support the actions of her highness the sovereign, or her imitator, but there is no need to make it racial. Have you heard about the Chinese and Malays and Others who have threatened safe distancing ambassadors, including one who tried to stab them? (Check out this YouTube video called “Compilation of Crazy Singaporeans during Circuit Breaker period”, bottom of this post)

Why do I say there is an uptick? Three things have alerted me:

a) Last week three or four separate Chinese friends were doxxing the wrong Indian lady. I had to respond to each individually, most didn’t even know it was a crime.

(Some said: “Nothing to do with race. Just curious.” My response: “When is the last time you doxxed a Chinese?”)

b) Individual Indians have written to me to share their experiences both in real life and online. Some of the commentary online is really vile.

Two things have surprised me: first, usually moderate Chinese will be quick to stand up and knock down the racists, either directly or with humour (“Is it because I’m Chinese?” being a great example). This time the moderates seem to be silent, possibly because of our overall cognitive dissonance amid COVID. Too much on our minds.

Second, there seems to be more anti-Indian sentiment coming from some Malays online than I’ve seen in the past.

To be clear, I know these racists are just a tiny minority in every group. I am not suggesting it is broad-based.

c) My race video published last year (see above) has over the past week suddenly become popular among some Indians. People are sharing it as a form of solace, solidarity, I’m not sure, and then sending me random messages of thanks.

Some wondered why I had only published on Facebook. I have now published it on YouTube. Feel free to share it if you think it’s helpful.

Finally, what are the reasons for the uptick? This is complex, and will take some time, but I believe in a nutshell there is a conflation of some anti-migrant worker sentiment and the more recent anti-sovereign sentiment, set against the backdrop of long-standing anti-CECA feelings.

The conspiracy theorists will argue that Singapore’s politicians are only too happy for this anti-sovereign, anti-South Asian rubbish to distract society while they are facing tough questions. (“Deny responsibility, find a scapegoat, incite a culture war”)

At the moment I have no reason to believe such theories. I am however keeping a close eye, looking to see how authorities handle online abuse, among other things.

No doubt, Singapore’s politicians have repeatedly in the past used race and religion as tools to further their own agenda, as I discuss in above video.

Take care, stay safe, be kind to everybody, whatever their skin colour or station! We are all in this together.



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6 thoughts on “Rising anti-Indian sentiment in Singapore

  1. Sudhir, very Important to understand that the current backlash has to do with the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back. Many locals will give you personal accounts about how Indian nationals only hire their own into Singapore companies, their high-handed attitude and general dishonesty/bending of the truth to suit their purposes. They also tend to stick together, don’t mix around and frankly, are openly opportunistic. This conflicts with Singapore culture, where people are more reserved. Their willingness to bend rules are just oil to fire as well.

    What is going on is Singaporeans lashing out at Indian nationals, and Singapore Indians paying the price as well. So should the government not to deal with the mess it created, deliberately bringing in a nationality in droves that does not assimilate well here, and actually globally? There was an interesting article on Medium by an Indian writer who lamented his countrymen’s unwillingness to assimilate wherever they go.

    And the fact that Indians and other foreigners are gaming jobs here, is the biggest issue. If there was legislation that barred foreign nationals from solely making senior hiring decisions esp for Singapore companies like DBS, that would help. One wonders – how did a fool like Avijit Das Patnaik land a VP role at DBS? The man is still spouting off against Singapore and can’t even get a bank job in India, yet Singapore gave him a VP role. Hmmmm. Foreign Talent indeed. And one wonders why the locals are mad?

  2. Fully agree @dragonstarrs, the issue is really with Indian PEMTs and they way they conduct themselves in the corporate world. I dont deny there are good and capable Indians but there is also quite a handful of them who oversell themselves to the role and have extremely bad manners.

  3. We now have an unmasked MBS Chinese woman in the news Hope that balances the scale on your judgement that the press only covers the sovereign lady…

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