So! My fellow natives are grumbling about something a British expat in Singapore has said about our local public transport. It behooves this Asian toady to the white imperialists to defend our Colonial Masters of Old and answer the hypocritical complaints of my disgruntled natives. Besides, I am terribly fond of contrarian positions and causes and this seems to be a delicious opportunity to exhibit my Anglophilia.
So Casey says that only poor people take the public transport. What exactly is so insulting or disrespectful about that? Unless of course one thinks that there is something shameful about being poor and we who take the public transport hate to be associated with the poor, which then says something more about how we think than what this brit expat thinks. In an amusing ironic twist, our oh so self-righteous indignation against the alleged disrespect which this ang mo is showing to the poor is based upon our projecting our very own Asian materialistic ways of thinking and economic status consciousness unto Casey. Hah! Pot, meet kettle.
Casay is glad to wash the stench of public transport off himself when he got back to his car. So Casey really really doesnt like the public transport, let’s be honest here, how many of you would not choose to be chauffeured in a car for free over taking the public transport if you had the option? Why do you complain so much about COE prices and ERPs costs if you do not seek also to wash the stench of public transport off and perfume yourself with the sweet smell of your very own car? Please, let’s not pretend that you take the public transport for the affect of solidarity with the poor or the masses or something, bah humbug!
The fact is dear Singaporeans, you think EXACTLY like our expat here, you yourself despise the poor and cant wait to get your own car and quit the public transport. But of course when such sentiments are harboured by locals, that is meritocratic, socially mobile and entirely respectable, but when voiced by an ang moh, that is evil evil and terrible.
Apparently objectivity and consistency of thought is something our colonial masters of old forgot to teach us. The hypocrisy!
12 thought on “On Anton Casey and the Hypocrisy of Singaporeans”
Well written. I like where you’re coming from, but it misses the point (which is that Casey is a complete douchebag). It’s about context. Casey’s not merely making a casual naïve observation about poor people taking public transport, nor are we reacting at an accusation of being poor. “.. who are all these poor people?” his caption reads – the tone of disdain for those around him, which we can (and do) take in this instance to represent everyday Singaporeans, is pretty clear. He metaphorically washes the “stench of public transport” by resuming his rightful superior mode of transport in an expensive car. Of course it’s not literal, FFS! His captions on other facebook photos that subsequently emerged leave no doubt as to his belief of superiority over “these people”, your fellow natives. To say nothing of the video (that one), so very English in his flippant condescension (there’s a reason why the English version of ‘The Office’ was always so much sharper and funnier than the American version – because the satire rang truer! But I digress). I realise you may be assuming the contrarian position here for its own sake, but extrapolating the gist of your argument, we’d really have no reason to feel upset about anything anyone ever says because such a reaction would somehow be based on a projection of our own insecurity or inadequacy on the subject at hand onto the person uttering mere words at us. If someone slaps you, I guess you could turn and walk away smug in your own self-confidence and say no harm done. That’s your choice. I’d probably slap back harder.
Yes, I realise that most people are merely reacting against the tone rather than the content of what he actually said. It is no doubt contemptuous and dismissive towards the poor. I merely ask whether or not we ourselves do not share the same mindset and attitude except that we are too polite, or afraid, to voice it out.
No, I don’t think this is a fair extrapolation of my argument. I did not say nor imply that all reactions are necessarily a projection of our own insecurity or inadequacy or whatever. I am saying that our sentiment of outrage at being labelled as poor is grounded upon the shame which we would attach to being poor, thereby founded fundamentally upon a contempt of the poor. If one were okay with being poor then to be labelled as one would not be a matter of outrage, but the only reason why we would be outraged is only because we ourselves already thought that being poor was a shameful thing. Therefore it is not a projection of “insecurity” or “inadequacy” or whatever (I am personally not fond of pop psychobabble inflated into complete meaninglessness), but a projection of the same system of thought and thinking as the English expat, i.e. it is a shameful and bad thing to be poor.
WELL SAID BRIAN NG.
maybe Dominic live a life that anyone can slap him and he would be happy and walkaway.
Your choice is also mine, I slap back harder with few punches.
Hi Dominic, I see where you’re coming from but I suspect you entirely missed the point. It wasn’t so much his words that angered Sporeans. It was the condescending attitude behind it, coupled with the pictures…and to top it off, the icing on the cake was the rude video. Sure, there is some truth in the words that he chose (like when someone farts in a crowded train, everyone stinks)…I have friends who are partners in large law firms, executive director in banks, fund managers, senior management in MNCs -they all take the MRT regularly. How does one make logical sense of that, if the view held is true (about poor people)? This shows his ignorance. Ignorance is fine, but it doesn’t warrant prudish behaviour. What I suspect Sporeans aren’t happy about is his attitude …When you go to someone’s home/country, respect that house/country. It’s as easy as that…I’m sorry that people came to your blog because of this case…wish more people would come to your blog and read the articles you have…I found them very interesting!
I don’t think people are merely outraged at the fact that his words are a generalisation, as if they were annoyed merely that he is not being quite so accurate and I think common sense does tell us that of course for every rule there are exceptions. But this does not dismiss or deny the broad truth or accuracy of what he says. Meaningful and substantive empirical claims would be impossible in a language which completely forbade the use of any generalisations or “stereotypes”. (I wrote a defense of stereotyping here.)
I write for compliments like this. Thanks! 🙂
If you hate Singapore, why come and work here?
I’m not quite following, who said they hate Singapore?
What is the point of this post? To defend this ang moh? To say Singaporeans are childish?
Can’t I make various observations without the need for a much more fundamental agenda, intention or purpose? Can’t the various points of my post be of sufficient interest without me needing to have to make a more fundamental Point with a capital “P”?
Totally agree, the leaps of logic needed to connect “who are these poor people” to insulting Singaporeans as a whole is HUGE, huge does not seem to be a sufficient description. What is wrong with describing that taxi driver as retarded, that would actually be rude to people with deficiencies. I would describe a person dressed like that the same way. I frequently have had to comment on some taxi drivers because of the way they behave, so what is the big deal.
So what if he is a douchebag, if douchebaggery is illegal that would be news to me, in any other country this would not be news. It is amazing how Singaporeans have nothing better to do than to go after an idiot with a big mouth. If I made the same comments, what could they possibly do to me? Lol they seem only capable of bullying people who could be subject to removal or can be fired from jobs.
All of my friends, know that I rely on taxis and limo services for ALL my transportation needs. So I am a hair away from making similar comments. Thing is I would have not ended up ON a train/bus. Never going to happen, never will. I was not at all offended by his comments. Did not apply to me so why should I pretend to be offended?
As they say being offended on other people’s behalf has today been honed into a fine art.
I just…agree with your post. Perhaps I’m just as arrogant, smug or self-adsorbed as the angmo or tired of facing outrage over facebook comments. On the other hand, if someone making a living in your country openly disrespects it, there is no reason to show courtesy by keeping an open door.