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Press Mentions

I gave an interview for the second season of ABC’s Not A Race with Beverley Wang on Chinese Privilege, Singapore, and what the term People of Colour means.

Not A Race is an amazing show that has featured incredible artists like Aamer Rahman, Benjamin Law as well as The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng. I am grateful and blown away to be in such ridiculously talented company!

Listen to Indigenous activist Eugenia Flynn, American activist-writer and Associate Professor at Hampshire College Loretta Ross, and I talk about a whole host of things in this podcast!

Listen here!

The Hunt

January 12, 2018

They walked alone on the crooked path. There was nothing for miles, not even the dead grass that had accompanied them the past few days.

It was as if the land could not fathom how to respond.

The sand was gritty and bit into their worn-out shoes. The long robes they had been wearing when they started the journey two weeks ago were tattered. Behind them a brown wasteland, in front of them, a black one.

The two girls did not hold each other’s hands. They did not huddle together. They did not take their eyes off their surroundings.

They had made that mistake once before.

Read the rest of my second short story for Djed Press here! The artwork was done by Soolagna M Creative!

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by Tamil Hindus in Singapore, and other parts of the world that have a sizeable Tamil population. It has recently come under certain rules and regulations which have been deemed unjust.

In the 1960s, Thaipusam was a public holiday in Singapore. Thaipusam was then removed as a public holiday under the pretext that each major race is given two holidays; the Chinese have Chinese New Year (CNY), which lasts for two days. Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, are given holidays for Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa. Indians are given Deepavali and Vesak Day. Hence, Thaipusam could not be considered as a holiday for Hindus.

However, who observes Vesak Day? It is a Buddhist holiday. Buddhism originated in India, but by and large, the world’s biggest population of Buddhists, are East Asian. In Singapore, this means it is the Singaporean Chinese who are mostly Buddhist. Why is it gazetted as an Indian holiday when there are so few Indians celebrating it? In effect, this means the Chinese actually get three days of religious celebrations, and the Indians get one.

Singaporeans are fond of making comparisons between Singapore and Malaysia, remarking on the institutionalized racism in Malaysia that favours ethnic Malays. However, Thaipusam is a religious holiday in Malaysia. A country that is supposedly less fair than Singapore, is able treat its minorities with so much more respect and sensitivity than Singapore does.

Singapore, a tiny Southeast Asian nation-state, is well known for its impressive economic growth since its independence in 1965. Filled with towering skyscrapers, an impressive, well-maintained public transport system and an unemployment rate the envy of most industrialized nations, the small country is often referenced as a model postcolonial state.

Despite these impressive economic strides, many of the racial tensions that have their roots in Singapore’s colonial history continue to manifest today, especially in relation to gender. Formerly a British colony, Singapore boasts a multi-racial, multi-ethnic population, most of which are classified into four major groups by the state: Chinese, Malay, Indian and ‘Other’. Unlike Singapore’s neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore’s ethnic Chinese population is the majority ethnic group. These four categories are also constantly being challenged and nuanced by the high level of foreigners who are employed and study in Singapore. Constructions of ethnicities are highly inflected by gender roles in the four major ethnic groups and nuanced by the constant influx of migrants in the country, which include mainland Chinese ‘study mamas’ (mothers accompanying their young children to study in Singapore), female domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia, and male construction workers from China, India and Bangladesh.

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