I was contemplating whether I should write this article or not, but seeing as Mothership.sg decided to pick up the Facebook post on my personal account and run a story with it, I think I should clarify some details.
At around 9.30pm yesterday, I was cycling home when I ran into a bit of a situation. I was on a two-way street in a quiet housing estate, keeping to the left, when I saw a silver van making its way down on the other side. As it approached, one of the passengers stuck his arm and head out of the van, and yelled “F*cking Bangla” at me. As you can probably imagine, that immediately made me furious so I stopped my bike by the side of the road to get a better look at these repulsive beings.
They slowed to a stall, and I realised that there were three young Chinese men in the van, and they were laughing hard. By now I was fuming, but I knew I was outnumbered and they could’ve easily decided to assault me if they wanted to. There were three men, from what I could see, I didn’t know if there were more in the back of the van, so I composed myself a little and cycled away. As the van lurched forward, the man yelled again, “Stare, what stare?” but I just continued pedalling.
As I reached the top of the lane, I realised that these guys had gone down the street, made a couple of turns, come up the next lane, and were again approaching me, this time from the left. I made a snap decision to move my bike off the road and onto the pavement as they drove past. I’ve lived in Singapore all my life, but I’d never really been afraid that someone might try and harm me until last night. As they drove past me it occurred to me that I should try to get the license plate number so I scrambled to get my phone out but before I could, they’d turned down another lane. I didn’t think it was the best idea to try and follow them, so instead I cycled home, shell shocked from what had transpired.
I decided to take to social media to tell my story because firstly, I was fuming and I needed an outlet, and secondly, I thought it was something my friends needed to know. I’d mostly received supportive comments from friends, but this morning, I woke up to an article by Mothership.sg about my post, and some of the comments on it were absolutely vile.
Here are my favourites:
“When there is a traffic accident between a Malay n Chinese man, the Malay will surely want to fight and the Chinese will surely want to offer money. Settled at last. So corruption n racism are inevitable.”
“Sorry if no evident and witness (like forgot to take down the van vehicle numbers) then please don’t tell and learn telling prata stories, thanks and sorry for that..”
“All of us are born as animals or humans. So don blame other. Like a tortoise criticise a turtle hunchback.”
“I only dislike some pionys who are loud, inconsiderate, arrogant. Same goes to anyone.”
“Real racism is when you are excluded from running for Presidency if you are not of a particular race( based on certain party ‘s definition of what constitutes that particular race) in a supposed democratic place.”
Many of the commenters had dismissed my experience, with some even going so far as to accuse me of provoking the three youths, which is why they lashed out like that. Notwithstanding the fact that I had done absolutely nothing to deserve such abuse, this victim-blaming trope is exhausting.
You get the same fallacy trotted out for rape cases, where people blame the victim for wearing a short skirt or getting too drunk, and in a lot of other incidents in which the person on the receiving end of the abuse is somehow responsible for the actions of the aggressor.
This is harmful for the progression of society. When a person feels unsafe about speaking out because of the vitriol that he or she might get from the public, then racism, sexism and any other cases of abuse will not get highlighted in the public sphere. For a long time, women were not allowed to vote and African-Americans were seen as only fit to be slaves. Ridiculous concepts now but it was the societal norm for a large portion of human history.
So, whenever you hear cases such as mine, please remember to reserve your comments and hear him or her out. For he or she has taken that bold step of stepping up and voicing the injustice instead of hiding in the shadows. And with that bold step, other people will also be empowered to share their own stories of abuse. It’s probably too much to ask for a righteous and fair society. There will always be pockets of racism. However, hopefully the voices of positivity can drown out the hateful speech of others.
I have faith that Singapore will continue progressing forward, and there were comments on both my and Mothership’s social media post that makes me believe that perhaps my children can live in a Singapore free from hate. I will continue voicing out, and I hope you do the same whenever you hear cases of abuse.