Perhaps, it is time to bring an interim closure to the saga. Allow me to summarize what we have learned of the various players in the event. Hopefully, this attempt is a fair one to reference when the next trigger to re-open Caseygate or similar occurs.
Mr Anton Casey
From all the words and actions of the protagonist himself, we know he let loose remarks insulting and belittling locals as poor and wusses at least 5 times. For good measure, his bigoted views are long-held to the extent that his son apparently picked up words, ideas and act accordingly.
Furthermore, he appeared to remain unrepentant of his views. His PR company-led apology was, by its very process, insincere and by its content, without any atonement originally but solely with words, devoid of contrition.
He also referred to his ‘biggest mistake of his life’ – without explicitly telling us that he will work on changing his long-held bigoted beliefs – it can only mean that his mistake was being found out. Not for his beliefs.
Therefore, we can fairly say that he is a confirmed, unrepentant, supremacist (one, not confined to just race or nationality).
I refer to these as those with given, sanctioned access to a mass audience or those aspiring to be such. These fancy themselves as thought-leaders and fair-minded commentators. They are represented by the William Wans, Chua Mui Hoongs and Sharon Snodgrasses in our midst.
Exactly what have they shown us by their thoughts published? At least 3 things;
– They all appeared to identify less with the injured, we who felt deeply hurt by Casey. They appeared to gross over the insults with the requisite adjectives “unfortunate choice of words”, “to be sure….(sounding) like an arrogant little twerp” or “clearly rude, utterly crass, and denigrating”, only to quickly, too quickly focus on Casey’s apology. An apology that, we have demonstrated above, is insincere and without contrition for all its form but also absent of substance (his long-held beliefs). Instead they identified more with the offender.
– In their rush to judgment of those who responded to Casey’s ‘mistake’, they failed to dig deep enough, if at all, to understand what the reasons were/are for those who went vitriolic (most) or even threatened harm (some, few).
– Their rush to judgment came with the sole purpose to preach to us their holier-than-thou ideas of ‘empathy’, ‘self-confidence, maturity, grace’, ‘our responses…say much about ourselves’.
What may be a fair, balanced conclusion of such social commentators and ‘thought-leaders-wannabes’? I suggest two deficiencies;
One, they all need to not just slice and dice but to dig deep, dig deeper than just superficially skim a surface just to rush to their sermon.
Two, I personally find little to fault with the messages of decency, of our bigger self. It is in the timing that I disdain – and disdain strongly in the larger context of the Singapore we are living thro’ today with so many foreigners irresponsibly welcomed into our midst. Thought leaders must understand there is a time to allow detractors or mourners to release their steam or to weep. Rush not. As it is, William, Chua & Sharon remind me of Job’s sorry comforters – only worse because Job friends sat and said not a word to him for 7 days, 7nights before they started their ‘let-me-tell-you-where-you-err’ discourses.
Sadly, other than Minister Shanmugam who judged Casey’s insult sufficiently, the rest of the pack of leaders rushed to call the injured amongst us a ‘mob’ and ‘a pack of hounds’. Like the social commentators, they are only too keen to preach to us than to first understand us.
An approving nod must be made to MP Zainal Sapari for his insistence that ‘empathy has its limits’ and no ‘Singapore-bashing’ allowed.
Just as sadly, the opposition leaders (as far as I have read) have also been found wanting. One wonders if they are all too busy keeping quiet. To their credit, unlike the govt, they refrained from preaching to us. But, still, that does not mean that they truly understand how deep-seated our hurt has been.
What can we say of the few voices that came up to speak against Casey? What of the majority who have kept deafeningly quiet?
We know for certain that not all foreigners are Casey-like. But we also know that there are many closet Caseys who harbour similar, if not worse, bigoted views of Singaporeans. These keep mostly to themselves or within their tight circles of family and friends. They will now learn to keep their thoughts even closer to themselves.
However, one thing we can know for certain is that, if the govt continues to push for more foreigners to come in – without understanding how legitimately (and not xenophobic-ly) uncomfortable, hurt we are whilst showing clearly to recalcitrant bigots a thing or two not to ‘bite the hand that feeds you – then, don’t be surprised, shocked even, if more foreigners behave like they are the hand that feeds us.
As a group, we have done well in toto and in unison. Casey has left and we helped with showing him the door.
I say, we live with the irresponsible words of abuse and threats. Let anyone who condemn such behaviour show us which society has achieved all sweetness and light in their citizens’ behaviour on- or offline.
But we need to do more. We need to be prepared to do even more. Why? From all the rumblings and hints, the time is coming when the govt will, in all their naked cluelessness, will think that they still have the mandate to control the internet in an effort to put down dissenting views. They seem to forget what their Dear Leader, LKY himself, has pointed out that when Deng Xiao Peng opened China’s doors, he might be able to shut the doors – but not the minds of his fellow Chinese anymore.
We need to be prepared to oblige them their ‘mob’ and ‘hound’ characterization of our legitimate concerns and demands, albeit in a peaceful manner.
Most of all, we need to ensure that our parliament will be one where such leaders will not have that ¾ majority of votes to abuse in passing laws and regulations that serve to perpetuate their rule – no matter how talented or well-meaning they claim they are in their concerns for Singapore.
No matter how well-intending, how talented, how noble, there is always a blind side to look out for – collectively.