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Amidst COVID-19 situation, now is not the time to be racists

The behaviour of the man filmed being racist should not be accepted in our society at all.

Nigel Chin

Published: 18 April 2020, 12:00 AM

By now, it should be common knowledge that anyone heading out of their home should wear a mask, as part of stricter measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One important thing to note is that the idea of wearing a mask isn’t just to protect yourself, but to protect everyone around you. They can be loved ones at home, or even strangers you come across in public.

The idea behind #SGUnited – the hashtag most commonly used during this COVID-19 situation by Singaporeans on social media – is clear. We should all be united in our fight.

So it was appalling to see how one person was filmed being abusive towards another. The video was recently uploaded onto social media platforms and it has been making its rounds.

In the video, the man is seen hurling vulgarities towards the person behind the camera – seemingly after he was told off for not wearing a mask. Presumably, he was at a supermarket but had forgotten to wear a mask – and he wasn’t happy at being told off as he merely wanted to buy a carton of soy milk.

But what caught netizens’ attention was how he had insulted the Chinese race too.

In a country like Singapore, such behaviour shouldn’t be exhibited. Not only is our society a multi-racial one, we are also a global city. We shouldn’t be discriminating against foreigners, or even locals of other races.

And the virus doesn’t choose its victims based on people’s races.

Sure, the man may have felt that he was merely making a quick purchase before heading home. But who’s to say that during that short time frame, he was completely safe from the virus? If we were able to guarantee that, I’m sure the government wouldn’t have introduced the circuit breaker measures at all.

But that’s besides the point. The way he reacted just because someone may have told him off for not wearing his mask is appalling. And I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Pre-school principal, Evangelin Tan, pointed out that “this has nothing to do with being Chinese or any other race”. “This is a man who clearly doesn’t have much consideration for his own health and those around him. Just because you are angry in that moment doesn’t give you the right to lash out with a racist remark,” the 30-year-old said.

She added that as Singaporeans, we should be better than this.

Emma Pragasam, a 16-year-old Singapore Sports School student, called such views and words as “detrimental to a society such as Singapore, where we live in harmony regardless of race, language, religion and nationality”.

“Such hate speech should never be allowed to fester, not condoned!” she added.

Raihan Rahman, 29, added that we should be supporting one another. He also felt the man in the video was absolutely wrong in what he said and did.

COVID-19 has left everyone feeling vulnerable in different ways – be it from not being able to see our loved ones, or for some, losing their loved ones. It is precisely why we cannot afford to allow such behaviour to carry on and tear up our social fabric.

We need to preserve who we are as Singaporeans – and that means looking beyond our race, language, religion or even nationality. So let’s be socially responsible and keep in mind that we can only overcome the virus if we are #SGUnited and #SGTogether.

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