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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." - Kurt Vonnegut


In the past, I have been accused of being racist for calling Canadian 2-for-1 Pizza 'Malay 2-for-1' (because almost everyone working there is Malay)

Old website picture (~2004)

New website picture (today)

Yet, when minorities complain about essentially the same thing, not only do people not condemn them, the complaints are seen as legitimate.

The example I have in mind:

"TCS should stop being a 'Totally Chinese Station'
Straits Times Forum, 20 November 1999

I AM getting really tired of reading from travel brochures that Singapore is a multi-racial country.

Any foreigner who watches our local English dramas would not be able to see the richness of our multi-racial society.

It seems TCS has the notion that only the Chinese can act and speak English.

Apart from Under One Roof, all the other English dramas produced by TCS - including the new ones, Spin and The Ride Home - have Chinese as the lead actors, even to the extent of putting Channel 8 and foreign artistes of Chinese descent in these new dramas.

Even though the Malays and the Indians are the minorities on this tiny island, was any effort made to seek an actor or actress from these races to make the shows more racially balanced?

They can speak English too, if not better than the Channel 8 artistes.

The lives of Singaporeans are not only based on the Chinese. The Chinese do not make Singapore nor do the Malays or the Indians.

We are all Singaporeans and the shows on Channel 5 should portray the lives of all Singaporeans.

The fault probably lies with the producers of these shows who do not consider the sensitivities of the minorities.

They suffer from the same disease that inflicted the American producers of television shows in the US in the early 50s to the early 60s, who felt that Black and Asian Americans were not suitable to have lead roles on their shows.

Ironically, Bruce Lee was one such victim when he was taken off from being the lead actor in the Kung Fu series.

Now, we see the same treatment being meted out to budding Malay and Indian actors and actresses.

The chance for them to get a job on Channel 8 is extremely remote even if they can speak Mandarin. It is even harder for them to get a chance to act in the English dramas if the mentality of these TCS producers does not change.

Until TCS changes its ways, it will always be known as the "Totally Chinese Station".


This is despite the fact that if you conduct a random draw in Singapore, you're more likely to get a sample that is 100% Chinese than one that is 100% Malay (leave apart the question of sample size and selection bias [the writer ignored the examples of Gurmit Singh, Daisy Irani, Norleena Salim and Zaibo, as a TCS executive pointed out in his reply] here).

Even if you invoke the excuse of nation-building (State media should make attempts at social integration), this just means that the State media have more of a positive duty to increase racial representation above what it might normally be, and not that private companies do not have a negative duty not to have abysmally low racial representation.
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