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Is it impossible to be racist against the Chinese in Singapore?
It looks like local left-wingers are continuing to import American culture wars.
I have to say I didn't think much of "sharonliew86" controversy until I came across Alfie's post, in which he has presented an elaborate explanation claiming some enormous complexity of the case and then proceeded to explain how satire works and how it can unintentionally go bad, trying to play down the culprit's behavior.
And while much of it isn't exactly inaccurate - he does make valid points - his defensive slant is really disingenuous because we can only imagine what his response would have been if the troll was Chinese and the satirical account portrayed a Malay or Indian.
He's signalling it very subtly in this passage, which is straight out of Critical Race Theory playbook: "One rule some people have for satire is to target those who are in positions of power (“punching up”) and to spare those who are not (“punching down”)."
He later acknowledges that it may backfire: "The aim of this form of satire is to convey “a hyperbole of prejudice”, so that audiences will confront their own prejudices and racialised thinking. They’re not supposed to be racist, but are an indictment of racism itself. But this is a complicated manoeuvre where you punch down in order to punch up. And one can imagine how unwieldy that can be. Often, “ironic racism” ends up reinforcing racist stereotypes instead of undermining racists."
But at no point does he suggest that the sheer notion of "punching up" is based on actual prejudice itself.
Because what is it if not a veiled suggestion - akin to the one seen in the US today - that a certain majority race is "in power" and the poor minorities are somehow trampled by it?
His indictment against the jailed Zainal is not that his depictions of an ignorant Chinese lady are improper in its own right but that it was easy for the author to make a mistake and be misunderstood - as if prejudice against the Chinese was somehow permissible on the account of their dominant share in the local population.
Just like many in the US these days believe you "can't be racist against white people" it seems that some think you can't be racist against the Chinese in Singapore, simply on the basis of their numerical majority.
I'm pretty sure that if the roles were reversed and a Chinese guy was heading behind bars we wouldn't be hearing a peep from Alfie et al about the supposedly excessive sentence but rather more complaints about how racist Singaporean society is, reinforcing the narrative of minority victimhood.
Ironically, it's precisely because so many people are so childishly sensitive and see racism everywhere that these strict rules have been put in place.
(This is doubly ironic, of course, when you remember Alfian's frequent defense of neighboring Malaysia, where the majority has actually enacted apartheid-like racist policies that tangibly discriminate minorities.)
I don't think anybody should go to jail for trolling on Twitter either but these are the rules in Singapore, created because snowflakes like Alfie and others cry racism on every occasion - and subsequent PAP governments have made it a policy to discourage any forms of bigotry by imposing tough penalties.
And now he's suddenly aghast at the disproportionate response? Well, people like him made it so.
But the funniest thing is that the only person in this whole affair showing any racial prejudice is Alfian himself. He has concocted this entire theory as if there was some grand attempt at clever satire addressing real societal problems when in fact it was little else than a troll account playing on very basic stereotypes.
I don't think that Zainal holds any racist views (after all he's married to a Chinese lady himself), nor that he was trying to be a satirical voice of an oppressed minority. He simply inherited this Twitter account from his friends and just continued trolling for fun. He wasn't trying to "punch up" to make the majority face its "racialised thinking" like Alfie is trying to say - he was just doing it for silly laughs that attracted a sizable following.
But now Singapore's "loving critic" is trying to frame it as, however poorly executed, a valid attempt at combating some (imaginary) oppression.
Just like the woke left-wing crowd in America, the local imitators are seeing things that are just not there.