Perhaps unwittingly, the MOE could be seen as complicit in ingraining young minds with racist and ignorant prejudices

Perhaps unwittingly, the MOE could be seen as complicit in ingraining young minds with racist and ignorant prejudices

In the not too distant past, member of parliament (MP) for Sengkang Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Raeesah Khan had two police reports filed against her for being an alleged racist against the majority Chinese population in Singapore and for being apparently derogatory about Christians. If logic were to prevail it seems clear (at least to me) that Khan was fighting for equal treatment of all people as opposed to racist. It also seems (to me) that had she never been an opposition candidate, these allegations may never have been made (although this is purely speculative in nature). These police reports are still outstanding given that the police have not yet dismissed them.

How does this stack up against the recent news report of a shockingly racist children’s book that has come into public circulation?

According to reports, a Chinese-language children’s book, “Who Wins?” by Wu Xing Hua, depicts a “dark-skinned” boy with “oily curly hair” named Mao Mao – which means “hairy” in Chinese – who is characterised as an aggressive school bully. The book’s illustrations also leaves little to speculate. Mao Mao is clearly not Chinese.

In a country whose majority Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) Government prides itself as one that values and promotes racial harmony, it is a travesty that a book like this was even written, let alone even made it past the printers!

How could this book even pass the publishing criteria of Marshall Cavendish Education (MCE)? What is even scarier is that the publisher uses the word “education” in its name! Did MCE fail to proof read and approve the content? Or did its staff have equally ignorant views? Neither scenario is reassuring.

Secondly, and in fact far worse than the first, this racist book series has been included in a long list of supplementary reading material since 2018, as found on the website of the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, formed under auspices of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Did the MOE approve this sort of content? Is the MOE careless or is it also ignorant? Yet again, neither scenario is reassuring.

Perhaps unwittingly, the MOE could be seen as complicit in ingraining young minds with racist and ignorant prejudices.

While the MCE has apologised, the MOE has not yet fully addressed the enormity of this catastrophic failure on its part. If a mistake has been made, it has to be rectified properly. Not just some apology from the MCE and hoping for things to fade into the sunset. An internal investigation needs to be conducted within the MOE and the person(s) who let this through the MOE has to lose their job. Anyone with such a callous attitude to race has no place in education.

This could be construed as insidious state sanctioned racism (however unwittingly) especially taken in line with:

  1. Heng Swee Keat’s comments that older Singaporeans are not ready for a non Chinese prime minister.
  2. the fact that the police report filed against him for this comment was so quickly dismissed.
  3. that the PAP persecuted Khan, who is a minority for being racist against the majority.
  4. that the police reports against Khan remains outstanding.

If a member of the public filed a police report against Wu and MCE, how would the police take this forward?

I understand that the mistake has already been made but it is how we rectify it that now counts. We cannot stop with an apology. How does the MOE select its reading material? Is there an inherent systemic ignorance that needs to be countered?

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