Update 20 August 2011: Viswa Sadasivan has written an excellent letter reminding us that the event on Sunday is about a stand against the legitimization of intolerance. Let’s not immediately label it xenophobia (although some people are using it to fan hatred which is so wrong and dangerous) and dismiss the legitimate concerns totally.
Here’s an extract of Viswa’s letter:
Mediation, I agree with Law Minister K. Shanmugam, is a process predicated on the parties’ willingness to seek settlement and abide by the agreement. This does not mean, however, that the mediator is without power or influence. The parties vest a measure of authority on the mediator. With this power to influence comes the responsibility to ensure that any settlement, whether initiated by the parties or not, does not end up being unfair to one party. The parties must be able to live with the settlement without feeling cheated.
In community-based mediation especially, a settlement where one party feels it agreed to it under duress can be counter-productive in sustaining harmony, and building trust.
Update 18 August 2011: The Curry Story has hit international headlines. Read the Telegraph article.
Update 17 August 2011: Singapore’s most famous blogger, mrbrown, came up with a funny song called Curry Night sung to ‘Vincent’.
Update 16 August 2011: The latest news is that the incident occurred 6 to 7 years ago and that the measure was not legally imposed. But what I can’t help but wonder, if what would have been proposed if the two parties had not agreed. Would this then go to court? I feel this is an incident that should not be entertained in the first place as curry is just part of our culture. What would be different is playing music at a very high volume. That to me would be culture neutral and noise pollution in any country. Anyway, I hope we can get greater clarification regarding this, since the government is now responding to the uproar.
I guess one good thing that has transpired is this incident shows how cohesive Singaporeans are and I think it’s wonderful how we stick up for each other. Also I wonder why the mediators picked that case to highlight as it seemed as if they were proud of it. To me, the whole crux of the issue was that of fairness and what emerged was that Singaproeans are very protective of our very unique culture of which curry is a huge part.
What I posted earlier:
I think it’s so heartwarming that this ‘Cook A Pot of Curry’ Facebook page, has 29,000 attendees already. I am so glad I chanced upon it. Feel uncomfortable with some of the xenophobic comments (some of the nicest people I met at work were from China), but I love that Singaporeans rally together in support of the bullied. I am also quite certain that among the attendees are not only Singaporeans but all people who are fond of Singapore, and sympathize with the Indian family and find the outcome of the mediation ridiculous and unfair. And I guess just anyone who loves curry. You can read my older post to find out more about this controversy. (Update on 16 August: Here’s a wonderful letter by Danesh who implores that we use curry to unite and not divide.)
I hope the page manages to reach 50,000 before the actual ‘event’ (something you can do at home which is great), on Sunday 21 August. The number this page hits is symbolic reflecting how unhappy we are about this incident and that’s why it’s important.
Just wanted to share this old photo of Chen Show Mao, from a couple of months ago, from his Facebook page, eating prata and curry. I love how humble and down to earth the Workers’ Party MPs are. That’s the way anyone who wants to represent and command the respect of the people should be. Increasingly I feel annoyed when people in authority talk down to us, and dismiss us, and so the WP way of managing and serving is such a refreshing change. It’s the sincerity which touches me.
Here is part of the note from the event organizers on the Facebook Page they created:
You can see from the attendees that not all are what we would have expected at first thought to be ‘native’ Singaporeans (based on ethnicity and nationality).
Paraphrasing what S Rajaratnam said so many many years ago, being a ‘Singaporean’ is something that you have as a conviction – a frame of mind – an outlook in life – I am glad that we have so many Friends of Singapore, some who may be living with us on this small island, and some who are far away, supporting this event, with a spirit of solidarity and understanding.
In a multi-ethnic/cultural environment, we need to learn to understand each others culture, respect the differences, and also be open enough to know how to take the best of each others culture and make it part of our own – to enrich our individual and collective lives.
So, in this case, CURRY, it is not just an issue of our Indian fellow citizens, it is a beautiful symbol of what co-existence can create – of being Singaporean in spirit!
From someone who is away from Singapore but cooks curries when he can, to remind him of home….