Home > Random > Chua Cheng Zhan – what gives?

Chua Cheng Zhan – what gives?

It looks like I’m a little late regarding this issue, but hey, I’m not selling a newspaper here, so this is my take on it.

We have had an insight into someone’s mind here, through his blog, and it seems that many people seem utterly disgusted by what he has said.

Let’s get this straight, its this person’s character, which was indicated by his repeated postings in his blog, with which we are disgusted at. (I hope)

I have not personally read the blog yet (and probably never will) but judging by the various news articles that have appeared on this subject, it seems quite unlikely that this person was misrepresented or that his comments were taken out of context. After all, it was reportedly made over several entries spanning days and seemed sufficiently clear-cut enough to strike many readers as blatant and disgusting. And after all, if this guy is a scholar he can’t pretend that it was all about repeated bad choices of words, right?

First, let’s take a look at his reply/apology/defence:

“I guess I was not myself when I wrote those things”… I’m sure. It’s called the insanity defence. Frequently used in court for defendants which has to be verified by a convinced psychatrist. Point being, this was not a heated moment sort of thing, unlike the jealous lover who kills his girlfriend.

“I don’t use my own persona when I write on my blog”… To me it sounds like – why was I so stupid to even use my own name?

“I realise they were in very poor taste…” It’s not poor taste my friend. It’s not a matter of taste at all. Its a matter of who you are.

“The weblog, he added, was never meant to be read by anyone but his closes friends. ” – Again, that’s not the point – in fact, it is when you are in confidence alone or with trusted friends that you show your true self. And what we see is regrettably ugly.

This man has apologised, and as fellow human beings we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he knows what he did was wrong. But what was it he did that was wrong? Look carefully at his replies again and read on.

In the first part, he’s saying that he denies responsibility for the remarks he has made. It wasn’t me… I wasn’t myself…

In the second part, he’s basically apologising for having made his racist remarks in public. Its a private blog… It was hacked into…It wasn’t in good taste…

So tell me readers, did he did he actually apologise that his racist comments were wrong in themselves?

In the Sunday Times article, his father even digs out his past humanitarian work in foreign countries. I applaud humanitarian work when its done with a good heart and intention. But you mean after all that helping you still look down on people because of their ‘race’? Not that we should look down on anyone for whatever reason, be it economic, education level, etc.

This is the point where opinions start to diverge.

Some people will say that this guy is stupid, not “PR” enough to have said such things in a public area. Call it a PR crisis for his future job prospects and scholarship, if you like. On that, I agree, although I’m not chastising him here for a PR mistake. After all, he didn’t hire a publicity manager from SCI 🙂

Other people, are furious that such a person is being funded by PSC.

They raised very pragmatic concerns.

Do we want such a person at the forefront of policy making or in top civil service? – No, because, we hope never to institutionalise racism, and secondly, we want top dogs who can say the politically correct things, so we won’t have to hire SCI’s PR professionals.

Isn’t it ironic and a great injustice that such a person should be aided in his studies by the people he so detests (the “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” argument… unfortunately it also implies its alright to be racist if you don’t owe people of other races any favours – sad but it seems many Singaporeans actually subscribe to this view)

Wondering aloud – I feel that it has raised eyebrows at a practice that Singaporean society takes as a given – the use of academic results and achievements as gauge of character.

Everybody knows that the use of wealth as an indicator of character is passe. Remember Everitt Road. But here, where a high level education is a direct equivalent to a life of wealth or maintanence of wealth, it seems like the next big thing. Meritocracy after all, you say?

But then, I think this case would have done good, if it has smashed 1 great presumption that is entrenched in our mindset – that highly educated people have great character, and should be respected, looked up to, and be our future leaders in our top companies, and civil service.

We’ve already had enough of the bond-breakers stories. Now here there’s even a PSC scholar – mind you, a model of academic and CCA near-perfection and of high breeding in education as indicated by his proclaimed alma maters (the great RI and HCJC that people would beg to get to, mind you), who by a Freudian slip exposed his racist mentality.

What use of high education if at the end he behaves like a racist, selfish fool? Better yet, fund them even more higher education and pay them well, and put them in high public service. PSC needs to review its selection criteria.

The public response is heartening, for its an indicator that some of us still think that its not right to behave like a racist, selfish fool, irregardless of wealth, education etc.

If nothing more, this is another sure sign that our merely tangible result oriented education system and social mentality needs serious revamping. Is education for jobs? Yes. Is education only for jobs? My take is no.

An article on ST today by Ms Pan Xuequn suggested that it was Singaporean society itself that was perpetuating racisim, and that unfortunately chastising Chua is a mere symptomic treatment (Averrant behaviour may be reflection on society – April 21 Forum page).

As for “causes” of Chua’s behaviour you could blame it on a thousand things, of which we may never be certain, be it upbringing, school, friends, family and so on, but whatever the case the “cause” does not always justify the action. If I said that I couldn’t help speeding because my car engine was too powerful would you think that justified my speeding?

She seems to suggest that it is government policy that causes people to think along racially segregated lines. But its not. It’s inherent that people would tend to identify with others who look physically the same, talk the same, share the same habits and so on. No thanks to the government for institutionalising that though.

But what I do agree with her is that we are all guilty of ignorance and stereotypes. It’s a matter of whether we realise and admit it or not. It’s one thing to learn about ‘stereotyping’ as a psychological element of human behaviour. It’s another to see and realise how it affects your daily life and actions, be it consciously or ‘instinctively’. It’ll always be there, its just that we have to learn to temper it and not let it get the better of ourselves, and be rational and practise restraint and clear judgement.

But as Chan is concerned, as far as I see it he hasn’t sincerely apologised for thinking its okay to be disgustingly racist, its as long as he doesn’t let other people know. And that, is a value that needs to change.

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