As most of you might know, Singaporean blogger Wendy Cheng (better known as Xiaxue), is a People's Action Party (PAP) supporter.
Naturally, therefore, it came as a surprise to everyone when she took to her Facebook page with a lengthy, and pretty sharply-worded (certainly quite triggered) response to this otherwise-innocent-looking post by Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam:
What she said
Here's her post in full:In summary, she made the following points:
1) Indulging in identity politics is a bad idea and a slippery slope
Cheng pointed out that this only serves to divide the nation as group interests take over those of individuals.
Why? Because if you start by pointing out the fact that there is a Malay President, Chinese Prime Minister and Indian Chief Justice, it opens the floodgates for people to point out the lack of representation of many other groups and minorities — Eurasians, LGBTs, people of various religions and sects, people with physical disabilities; the list can go on.
2) The reserved election is a slap in the face of meritocracy
Cheng notes that the fact that President Halimah is Malay and female are not things she should be proud of — for the plain fact that those two things are what she was born with.
What she should be proud of, she argues, are the extensive years Halimah has spent helping workers, and in public service, her popularity with residents and her activism in parliament and in the social service sectors.
3) Singaporeans were not given the chance to vote for whoever we wanted for the presidency, regardless of race
Cheng said she sees no point in arguing Halimah's "Malayness", and that her race should really not be the issue here.
"At least if Singaporeans elected her we can say that as a nation we believed that a woman can do what is traditionally a man's job and perhaps there is a little something to be proud of there, condescending as it is. But we weren't even given that chance."
4) President Halimah will always be characterised as a "Malay President" because that's how she got elected
Cheng agrees with the wide reference to President Halimah as our "Malay President" can and might as well emphasise her ethnicity, since she wasn't elected democratically by virtue of her merits — it was her race, and the fact that no one else qualified, that led her to the Istana.
Our trust "has been breached" by the PAP
In follow up comments to Mothership, Cheng said she was inspired to write what she did as she felt quite disappointed by how the presidential election turned out.
"I do not agree with the election being reserved for one single race. It seems (in my honest opinion) to be saying that the government thinks Singaporeans (of majority Chinese) are racist and will not vote for a minority race president unless forced to.
That's not true, but I would have liked the chance to prove that at the voting booth. Regardless of good or affirmative intentions, allowing only one race to run, to me, is inherently racist — imagine the furore if we said only a Chinese person can be president?"
She added her belief that many Singaporeans support the PAP, and entrust them with a lot of power, because we by and large believe they (the PAP) will not abuse it, and by extension our trust.
"This time round I feel like that has been breached."
Still a PAP supporter, though
Her post to Facebook, which she put up on Friday evening, was received perhaps uncharacteristically positively, with many praising her and sharing it in agreement.
Quite a few of these were anti-ruling party folk convinced that "even PAP dogs like (her) are beginning to see the light", she told Mothership.
That said, though, Cheng emphasises to Mothership that this doesn't change her support for the party:
"Well, just because I don't agree with one issue doesn't mean I suddenly dislike the whole party. I still think PAP is great in many areas, just that this election wasn't handled well. I'm an adult and things aren't so black and white!
... I am just doing what any sane human being will do - I compliment PAP when they do well and I voice my unhappiness when they do poorly!"
Top photos via Xiaxue's Facebook page