Be wary of well-intentioned ‘keyboard warriors’

IN THE article (‘Chinese-Singaporean divide a ‘mindset issue”; May 19), Mr Wang Quan Cheng, president of the Hua Yuan Association, the largest group in Singapore representing immigrants from China, highlighted that the widening gap between native-born Singaporeans and new citizens can be bridged only when both make the effort to get to know each other’s cultures better.

We cannot and should not hold on to judgments and opinions based on stereotypes of specific nationalities.

The online furore over the recent Ferrari accident escalated quickly as the story unfolded, and with it, the volume of xenophobic sentiment. Some netizens have turned their outrage into yet another opportunity to attack new citizens and foreigners.

We should have the good sense to dissociate ourselves from these xenophobic voices. This behaviour is not something to be proud of. It is not the mark of a gracious society – one based on justice and equality, regardless of race, language or religion.

However, it is encouraging to see a growing number of individuals coming forward to oppose xenophobia. Like Mr Wang, they call for calm and reason, approaching the issues by understanding that we should try to build bridges instead of burning them. These are the voices we need more of.

Since news of the accident broke, many people have come forward with an outpouring of support and help for the family of taxi driver Cheng Teck Hock, who died in the accident. More importantly, these offers came from locals and foreigners alike.

This is a clear demonstration that, whether local or foreign, we all have the capacity to be reasonable, understanding and compassionate. We are, at core, a kind people and we must not allow those who hold unreasonable or extreme points of views to falsely represent us.

In responding to xenophobic abuses on the Internet, we should be wary of the well-intentioned ‘keyboard warriors’ who lash out at something or someone just because others are doing it. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

We must speak against all ungracious conduct, by all means, but let us do so calmly, with grace and reason. It will be heard better than when we speak in haste and anger.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in The Straits Times – May 29, 2012

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