Is it because I’m Chinese?

Pat Law
Pat Law
Feb 6 · 4 min read

We know the story. The one about a female Singaporean Chinese going apeshit on a Malay Go-Jek driver. The one where the Internet conveniently discounts cyberbullying by hiding behind a sense of righteousness with her memes. The one where brands saw an opportunity to increase vanity metrics by taking down the same individual.

Even the Republic of Singapore Air Force couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon.

Grownass men who are supposed to protect my country, could not resist an opportunistic Facebook post over a personal squabble between an unreasonable (and perhaps unstable) customer and a private-hire driver. Our addiction to social love is an epidemic.

“Is it because I’m Chinese?”

The infamous last words, spat out like wine gone sour by the female customer, is Internet Gold. It was amusing to many, for playing the race card is the last thing you’d expect a member of the majority race will be doing to a minority race in Singapore.

It’s comforting to know many Chinese Singaporeans found it amusing that she played the race card. Consciously or subconsciously, we recognise our Chinese privilege.

But what exactly is my Chinese privilege? I asked myself long and hard about this. With a hint of hesitation and 2 cubes of apprehension, I coughed up the courage to consult my half-Malay colleague, Adam Kerr, about his life growing up as a minority in Singapore. By asking, I was acknowledging my ignorance.

After all, how am I to understand my privilege since I have never had it taken away from me?

The list of privileges I’ve come to discover, is as follows.

(of course I didn’t… but you know what I mean)

It has been uncomfortable penning this piece.

On one hand, I make no apologies for being born Chinese, nor being part of the majority race in Singapore. It’s not as though I selected my race as a foetus.

On the other hand, I do want to acknowledge that Chinese privilege exists in Singapore. To what degree does ethnic privilege end, and racism begin? Are they different or the same? Personally, I do think they are related to each other. To be in denial or dismissive about our privilege, is to disregard our fellow Singaporeans who are non-Chinese.

Just because you experienced racism whilst studying at London School of Economics doesn’t mean your Chinese privilege is discounted, ok? The very fact that you were in LSE is your damn privilege.

The Chinese privileges I have highlighted are ones I feel should not have been reserved for my race. It should be a privilege for all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language, or religion. For all the energy we invested into taking down the female Singaporean Chinese customer who played the race card against the Go-Jek driver, perhaps we should look at ourselves and make our country a true reflection of our national pledge.

P.S. I recognise that I may have missed out some other Chinese privileges. Leave a comment and let me know.

Pat Law

Written by

Pat Law

Chief Everything Officer at GOODSTUPH