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Filipinos in Singapore warned against posting racist comments online

Filipinos in Singapore line up for a Filipino variety show. Photo by BERNADETTE ORDENES.

Filipinos in Singapore line up for a Filipino variety show. Photo by BERNADETTE ORDENES.

With additional reporting by Bernadette Ordenes, Singapore

While Filipino netizens were celebrating their first victory against the Anti-Cybercrime Law, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore issued a reminder Tuesday to Filipinos in the Lion City to refrain from making racist comments through social media.

The reminder came after a Chinese woman’s Facebook status viewed as derogatory to Malays went viral last week.

Amy Cheong, an assistant director at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in Singapore, wrote two Facebook posts on her wall about Malay weddings in void decks in Singapore’s public housing buildings.

Public housing buildings in Singapore, locally called HDB for Housing and Development Board, are like middle-to-upper class condominiums in Manila.  The ground floor of these HDBs are concrete open spaces called void decks.  It has been the practice of HDB residents to hold big crowd celebrations like weddings and birthday parties in the void deck. Even funerals are held there.

Amy Cheong’s posts did not sit well with the Malay Singaporean community whom she singled out in a profanity-laden tirade.

In one post, she said, “Void deck weddings should be banned.  If you can’t afford a proper wedding, then you shouldn’t be getting married.”

But it was her second post that really fueled the calls for her removal from NTUC:

Amy Cheong's controversial Facebook post. Photo from Yahoo SG.

Amy Cheong’s controversial Facebook post. Photo from Yahoo SG.

The backlash was swift. Cheong was sacked from NTUC Monday after both her Facebook account and NTUC’s Facebook page  were bombarded with calls for Cheong’s resignation or removal from employment.

K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, called Cheong’s comments “shameful and completely unacceptable.”  He said, “I am glad that NTUC took swift action to terminate her employment. This should send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated.

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam's Facebook post about the incident.

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam’s Facebook post about the incident.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong likewise condemned Cheong’s statements, and said that he was “shocked” to hear about the matter.  “The comments were just wrong and totally unacceptable,” he said.  He reminded people to “be more mindful of what we say, online and in person.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's statement about the Amy Cheong incident.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s statement about the Amy Cheong incident.

Read full text of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore’s message:

Philippine Embassy to Singapore's message for Filipinos in Singapore.

Philippine Embassy to Singapore’s message for Filipinos in Singapore.

Second part of the Philippine Embassy to Singapore's message for Filipinos in Singapore.

Second part of the Philippine Embassy to Singapore’s message for Filipinos in Singapore.

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