MustShareMail: ‘Hwa Chong’ Lady Incident Shows We Need More Open Conversations About Race In Singapore

The name ‘Beow Tan’, otherwise known as the ‘Hwa Chong lady’ has been trending on Twitter for days now. Fuelled by how blatantly unacceptable her behaviour is, memes and righteous social media posts quickly surfaced.

But behind the humour is a sad truth — the things she talks about are not new to Singaporeans. They reek of elitism, racism, and the intersectionality of the 2 ideas.

So first off, let’s call a spade a spade. This is outright racism.

In one way or another, we have all heard or felt this.

The parent who warns you exactly what ‘types’ of people to look out for when you’re out late at night. The uncle who mutters angry remarks about minorities. The colleague who refuses to speak to workmates in a language everyone in the room can understand.

While the ‘Hwa Chong’ lady incident may be a one-time event, racism in Singapore is not.

We have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to dismantle the racism which continues to live on in Singapore society.

And continually dismissing race issues as ‘sensitive issues’, or masking them under mental conditions, is not how.

Singapore needs to find a way to have an open discussion about race.

It’s 2021, it’s time for our idea of racial harmony to move beyond wearing one another’s ethnic costumes once a year. Whether you’re a woke Gen Z or a baby boomer, we all need to get on the same page about this.

And hopefully, in time to come, open and honest conversations can spark real understanding which will truly make all Singaporeans feel at home here.

Ng Wei Leng, 24, Student

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