President Halimah Yacob has via a Facebook post said that discrimination against anyone has “no place at all” in Singapore society.
She went on to say that “people should be assessed solely on their merits and their ability to do a job and nothing else.” While her statements ring true at face value, how do they stack up with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s statements last year when he said that older Singaporeans were not ready for a non Chinese Prime Minister?
Heng’s statements implied that no matter how good a politician is, he or she can never be prime minister because of the colour of his or her skin. In other words, skin colour trumps ability in the most powerful political office in the land. Not only is this racist, it runs contrary to the entirety of what Yacob is saying.
No matter what Yacob says, her statements cannot really have any impact until and unless Heng’s comments have been explained and accounted for because they are diametrically opposed. Until we address the top establishment’s view points on who can hold power in Singapore, Yocob’s words will ring hollow.
After all, how can she say that discrimination has no place in Singapore when the man that is touted by many to be the future prime minister publicly implies (without empirical data) that a non Chinese person cannot aspire to be Prime Minister?
Besides, what about the police reports hanging over Workers’ Party member of parliament, Raeesah Khan? In police reports that have not yet been dismissed, it has been alleged that Khan, a minority has been racist towards the overwhelmingly dominant Chinese community over Facebook posts she made in the past. A common sense reading of her social media posts indicate a passionate crusader for equality. Yet, the powers be have branded her a racist?
By seemingly taking to task a minority fighting for equality for being racist against the majority race in Singapore, could the authorities be seen to be discriminatory? How do the pending police reports gel with Yacob’s plea to end discrimination?
As the sitting president, what are Yacob’s views on the words of Heng and the pending police reports against Khan? If Yacob genuinely wants to promote anti discrimination, shouldn’t she publicly condemn Heng’s words from last year? Should she also not issue a statement in relation to Khan’s pending police reports?
Is Yacob only paying lip service to anti discrimination?