Statement on Preetipls and Subhas Nair

6 August 2019

Stereotypes and demeaning representations of racial minorities cause harm to the communities targeted. The K. Muthusamy video produced by Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas Nair has raised important issues which need to be addressed in order for us to be a racially progressive society.

Racism affects many minorities in Singapore regardless of their citizenship status. Migrant workers are discriminated against not only because of their nationality but the colour of their skin. To add to their dehumanization, many of them work in abusive and exploitative environments.

Construction and shipyard workers from South Asia are generally paid lower wages than workers from other nationalities, even though they are performing the same work. Similarly domestic workers from South Asia usually have salaries which are lower than their counterparts from Indonesia and the Philippines. Often, we find that South Asian migrant workers are devalued because of their skin colour. Racial stereotypes, which are perpetuated by some employment agencies are also used to promote domestic workers to their prospective employers.

We disagree with Channel News Asia’s decision to remove a segment involving Subhas Nair from its documentary, ROAR, which premiered over the weekend. ROAR would have featured Migrants Band Singapore. Excluding them from the programme is unfair because they are not implicated in the police investigations involving the rap video.

A platform which would have offered migrant workers a chance to tell their stories, has been erased.

Migrant workers play an important role and contribute as much to our society as citizens. But they are also affected by demeaning stereotypes based on their nationality and ethnicity. Our conversations about racism in Singapore should also include them. As a society, we should put an end to behavior that supports majoritarianism and racism towards any group.

Stephanie Chok