Cook A Pot of Curry Day (& Chen Show Mao Eating Prata with Curry)

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….

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
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16 Responses to Cook A Pot of Curry Day (& Chen Show Mao Eating Prata with Curry)

  1. George says:

    Hi,

    Our family is a jump ahead of you guys.
    We cooked curry today! And we had the
    leftover with prata and love it.

    Our sentiments are exactly like yours and I think the govt’s stance towards foreigners and the disparaging remarks by lky has emboldened some of them to behave in such a demanding and unreasonable manner.

    It didn’t help when the frontline govt officials put in place to resolve issues such of these don’t have the plot and therefore are clueless about what their responsibilities are. This is of course principally the fault of their higher ups for not providing them a proper brief and deploying square pegs in round holes. Typical of govt wayang – when you dig a bit deeper, you find ‘ice ko song’ instead of red beans in the supposedly ice kachang! Form without substance and this actually reflect on the lack of sincerity of the govt/ministry concerned.

    • bookjunkie says:

      with all the curry talk, it got me craving as well and I had prata too 🙂 I think most Singaporeans love curry in all it’s forms and will probably we having it way before the actual ‘event’ day.

  2. Mrs Chan says:

    Yeh!!curry!! I love curries be they Thai,Malay,Indian,Japanese etc.However much as I enjoy and love this dish I certainly do not like the abuse of this lovely dish by some inconsiderate people. One morning, I woke up to hang my clothes as usual and lo and behold, what shocked and disgusted me was curry gravy splashed all on my bamboo poles and window ledge/panes .Someone was obviously too lazy to pour the remaining unwanted gravy into the bins(if they ever have) but just threw it out of the kitchen window!!This is certainly ungracious and not a lover of curry.Disrespectful and very mean to neighbours.It took me a long time to wash off the oily gravy.

  3. C says:

    I think what has surprised me most about reactions to this controversy is that people took the Indian’s side. Given that SG is something to the tune of 80+% Chinese, and also given how frequently I hear people refer to an ethnic, rather than nationalist identity, I remember being surprised by the details of the case.

    Like you, I’m uncomfortable with the slightly xenophobic slant this has gotten, but I love that S’poreans are gathering together and that an event like make curry day has come out of it.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I am all for free speech but I had a hard time with moderating comments…not sure what to leave in. Everyone just got so passionate about this topic. I do like that everyone rallies together and race is not a factor anymore….Nationality over race which is so unlike what our government does when they constantly categorize us into boxes….everyone identifying themselves as curry lovers instead and I thought that was cool.

  4. Pingback: The Stop Cooking Indian Curry Story Upsets Me — Singapore Actually

  5. cass says:

    Giordano should prob make a I love Curry t-shirt 🙂

  6. Made in sg says:

    If this case happens in China, where the Indian family telling the Chinese family not to cook pork or whatever it may be….very likely there will be (trouble)….how dare a new comer tells a home grown Singaporean what to do….so lets face the bitter fact…lets say the Indian family called the mediator to complain against the chinese insense burning? It not only DIRTY the environment it also pose danger of curtains catching FIRE!!!!! think about it!!! Change to the culture of the place you plan to stay and NOT making it change to you….

  7. San says:

    My first reaction to this was that the mediator should have told the PRC family to get a get a grip and grow up! The Indian family broke no rules – didn’t cook in common property, didn’t dispose of their refuse improperly, nothing. And the aromas would dissipate after a while – I can’t imagine someone cooking around the clock unless they ran a catering business. What rubs me up the wrong way is how the “solution” dictates when the Indian family can and cannot cook – so much for civil liberties. It also made me wonder what the outcome would have been if a Indian family had complained about a PRC family’s cooking… As for the xenophobic tinge you were concerned about – I figure its more about fair play and graciousness than anything else. You move into a new environment (be it a country, a neighbourhood or an office cubicle), then you should respect and adapt to the existing milieu. You made the choice to enter it, not your neighbours. Or am I being bolshie and bloody-minded?

    • bookjunkie says:

      I too thought that it was more about graciousness, when you decide to live among people of another culture. I also felt the mediator wasn’t fair, although the minister later came out to say the parties agreed upon this amongst themselves – then why have a mediator? Just felt this complaint should have been thrown out in the first place.

  8. Danesh says:

    Hey thanks for the acknowledgement. I spent some time here today and I do agree with many of your POVs. For example, I won’t vote for Tony Tan (even though he was head prefect of my school in 1956 heh) but I don’t condone booing. But there has definitely been a tectonic shift in our society post GE2011.

    Keep up the good writing.

  9. marcus says:

    I would definitely buy a I COOKED CURRY TODAY T-Shirt, even if it’s from Giordano. I love my Government and respect them for all that they have done, made possible for us. But I am beginning to see how Boxed in and Alienated they are with the…Singaporeans. Its a shame….

    • bookjunkie says:

      I too respect them for their superb efficiency and the beauty of out island can be attributed to their efforts. But there is so much more that can be done. And our society has matured enough for us to take it to the next level and not be controlled like children any more. I desire a society that is less stressful and cramped and not focused on the wrong things. Competition is good but not when taken to the extreme. I feel that competition here is so bad for our health. You can see the ugliness it leads to at the workplace.

  10. Pingback: Government–Food Our Flag | Foodifying Singapore

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