Singapore

Adopt positive way to handle racist remarks

In responding to potentially racist remarks, one could either adopt a positive way that deepens mutual understanding or shut down engagement by telling someone who is offended to be less sensitive.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, chairman of racial harmony advocacy group OnePeople.sg, said learning the correct way to engage on such thorny issues was more important for Singaporeans than trying to determine the fine line between a harmless joke and casual racism.

"The key issue is how we decide as a society to deal with this as a whole. Do we shy away and pretend this problem doesn't exist? Or do we accept the fact that we should work on this together?

"We need an open mind on both sides - taking offence and giving offence," said Dr Puthucheary, speaking at a student conference discussing racial and religious harmony yesterday.

The Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Education, was responding to questions from students citing a recent incident in which freelance actor Shrey Bhargava shared a Facebook post to complain about being asked to portray a caricature of his own race.

In his post on May 27, Shrey said he was asked to speak in a thick Indian accent during an audition for the movie Ah Boys to Men 4.

Dr Puthucheary said both camps of the debate had initially posted extreme opinions.

"The fact that they were some subsequent public views that talked about how to engage, how to talk about it and how to learn is actually a very positive result," he added.

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