Ex-presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian apologised for his allegedly racist FB remarks. Or did he?

Tan’s initial post about Indians taking our buses is representative of an arrogant ignorance we have when it comes to foreigners.

Ng Yi Shu| February 03, 06:50 PM

Tan Kin Lian, ex Presidential candidate and former NTUC Income CEO, has apologized to “local Indians”, for his recent allegedly racist post.

He had posted a photo depicting Indians on a bus with the caption “I boarded SMRT 857 and found that I was in Mumbai” on Sunday but subsequently deleted the post.

The apology however came with a caveat - it was not extended to “IB (Internet Brigade) dogs”, “rude people” and “foreigners (who think they now own Singapore)”.

tkl facebook post

Tan's statements not helpful in a diverse Singapore

Tan’s initial post about Indians taking our buses is representative of an arrogant ignorance we have when it comes to foreigners.

What people like Tan fail to realise is their comments imply that Singaporeans should be separate from foreigners in public spaces like the MRT.

In other words, he considers Indian nationals to be below us as to not deserve the same space we are in.

Statements like this is damaging to integration in a diverse Singapore - when we look down on certain nationalities or races, we ignore who they really are. We end up scolding them, in real life, or online; we end up disenfranchising them.

Tan’s statement is an example of the xenophobic sentiment that we come across every day.

It is not just Tan, the prominent presidential candidate, that we need to stop; it is your Facebook friend, who is annoyed at a foreign national talking loudly on the train and ranting about them online; it is the article from The Real Singapore deliberately antagonising foreign nationals by putting ‘PRC’ in their headline; it is our automatic assumption that people who have done a bad deed are definitely not Singaporean.

If we truly want integration, we should be friendlier to the foreigners who come and work in our city. We should not tie disruptiveness or rudeness to a nationality; if someone is rude it is a human trait, not a racial one.

Is Tan's apology sincere?

Then there is the question of Tan's intolerance of criticism.

Before his apology, Tan ranted about “Internet Brigade dogs”, adding that “their postings are usually propaganda, lies and personal attacks.”

He refused to extend the apology to them, as well as “rude people” and “foreigners”. This leads one to wonder - is his apology sincere in the first place?

Tan's statements revealed an intolerance for criticism - he simply discredited everyone who criticises him as an “IB dog”, implying that they were paid off by the government to demolish his reputation.

To that, I quote former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

For if you deem yourself free to make a racist or xenophobic comment, others will think that it is fair and proper to censure you and criticise you.

And they do.

Related article:

Here's why you'd be embarrassed to have ex-presidential hopeful Tan Kin Lian as your uncle/ relative/ friend

Top photo by Ng Yi Shu.

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