Protests against racism have erupted across the United States (US) recently, following the death of George Floyd, who was killed on 25 May after a police officer knelt on his neck while Mr Floyd was being handcuffed face down in the streets.
The George Floyd killing had also sparked public outcry globally, including Asian countries where people have taken into social media to support the Black Lives Matter movement, while there are some who criticized the movement.
Upon noticing many Singaporeans throwing brickbats at the Black Lives Matter movement, Timothy Koh – who claimed he has been living in the US for five years – took to his Facebook on Thursday (4 June) imploring fellow Singaporeans to stop “critiquing” the movement.
“I have been seeing a lot of posts from Singaporeans not in the US, writing things critiquing Black Lives Matter, purporting to offer ‘alternative views’ and ‘fresh perspective’ or whatever, in the form of statuses or think pieces,” Mr Koh wrote.
He added, “Please, just stop”, as he went on to justify why Singaporeans are in no position to critique the Black Lives Matter movement.
Firstly, Mr Koh pointed out that Singaporeans who are not living in the US would not understand how police officers in the US perform their duty. Those who have no connections with individuals in the black community – such as friends or colleagues – will not understand the struggles that they have to go through in the US.
“Unless you live and work here, and actually know black Americans’ relationships to cops, you don’t know what’s actually happening. There’s a reason why N.W.A’s ‘Fuck Tha Police’ came out in 1988. I myself am still listening and learning, and I’ve been here five years,” he wrote.
When it comes to protesting, Mr Koh noted that Singapore has “little history” of it in the past which are being “remembered negatively”. The act of protesting has always been perceived as “bad” in the country which explains why Singaporeans cannot grasp the function of protesting.
“We are from a country that taught us protesting is bad since the social studies / moral education curriculum in primary school. Your focus on violence of some protests also fails to understand the history of protest in the country,” Mr Koh asserted.
On his third point, he highlighted the existing “multitude of racial problems” in Singapore that are often being concealed “under the rug of racial harmony in schools” and urged Singaporeans to fix their own racial hangups.
“Fourth, this is not some sort of intellectual, international public policy plaything, saying ‘If they didn’t do x, their protest would be more effective.’ These are my friends and colleagues. People I have known for years. People of their community are literally dying,” said Mr Koh.
According to him, many graduates of ACS International School Singapore that he knows are “centrist pseudo-intellectuals” and urged them not to apply their “limited way of thinking” to the current situation that black community in the US are facing today.
“So many ACS boys I know have graduated into this stupid centrist pseudo intellectual type law school philosophy figure trapped in an ivory tower with weird notions of the ‘law’ and being like, ‘I’m not defending x, but neither am I denigrating y’,” Mr Koh said.
He added, “I don’t really care if you chose to dedicate your life as a yes-man to the PAP, but don’t apply your limited way of thinking to what is happening to black people in the US today.”
Meanwhile, Mr Koh noted that he would be willing to engage with those who are open to learning the Black Lives Matter movement.