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February 11, 2012

Seeing red over 'blackface' photos - the sunday times, Singapore

I am extremely disturbed to share captioned story, reported in the 12th February edition of 'the sunday times' (the Sunday edition of The Straits Times) Singapore. 

Here is the link for the story:


Here are the pictures that were printed in today's newspaper. Even before I start explaining, you would have already got riled by looking at the pictures, at this racist act by a bunch of employees of a well known local bank - United Overseas Bank in their staff event last Friday (10th Feb 2012) with a 'Bollywood Theme'. A bunch of Singaporean Chinese blackened their faces to resemble Indians !?! (really???).


To say the least, it is downright horrendous and unimaginative. If these guys thought it was funny, they must have pawned their small brains somewhere else. That bank employees can stoop so low is beyond my comprehension. How did their superiors, colleagues especially Indian colleagues allow such stupid act?

Quite frankly, Singapore is one of the best examples for religious harmony. Singapore is a melting pot for all religions and races. Despite this, I am sure there will be quite a bit of backlash on this matter, in the coming days. 

In the meanwhile, I ask all the readers of this note to circulate this offending news to ensure that any one who thinks of doing such stupid acts will thin twice before attempting to do so.

Before I close this note, I would like to thank SPH (Singapore Press Holding) journalist Ms. Jennani Durai for having the courage to make this action public by providing the pictures from a facebook entry. If not, this event would have gone unnoticed and the perpetrators would have had courage to repeat with much more disdain. Thanks Jennani. 

If you do not agree with such acts, please post your feelings, even if it is a word or two.

Thanks a lot!

Full story here:
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from The Straits Times dated 12 Feb 2012.

by: Jennani Durai

Several Chinese employees of United Overseas Bank have raised eyebrows online after posting pictures of themselves in 'blackface' at a Bollywood-themed staff dinner.
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Pictures of last Friday's event at the Fairmont Hotel were posted on social networking site Facebook on Sunday. At least three men are pictured with their faces painted black, presumably because the event was Indian-themed and Indians have darker skin.
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'Blackface' is widely seen as racially charged, especially in the United States. It originated as a form of theatrical make-up for performers to act out caricatures of dark-skinned people.
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Attempts to reach the staff involved were unsuccessful.
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A Chinese reader, who e-mailed the pictures to The Sunday Times, said she found them extremely offensive. 'It's one thing to wear a traditional costume to a Bollywood- themed dinner, but another thing altogether to paint your face black,' said the reader, who wished to remain anonymous.
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She said the pictures were offensive because they were 'appropriating someone else's ethnicity and treating it like entertainment'.
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And she was shocked at the captions and comments on the pictures, in which friends of the men said their get-up was 'hilarious'.
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'All these people wouldn't like it if a bunch of American employees went to a Chinese-themed dinner and put double-sided tape on their eyelids to make them single-eyelids,' the reader said.
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Some others also found the pictures distasteful.
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'I am not sure whether they were just having fun or making fun. I think that we should always be careful about issues related to skin colour in a multicultural society. There are some topics we should always approach with caution and this is one of them,' said Mr Tong Hong Mun, 25, a concert promoter.
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Counsellor P. Dinesh said painting their faces black was 'no different from referring to someone of Indian descent as 'black' which is thoroughly unacceptable in any Singaporean context'.
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Still others acknowledged that there was nothing malicious in the intent of the men, but that it was a poor decision.
Ms R. Yasotha, who works in publishing, said her first reaction was that the men had 'clearly never had any Indian friends'.
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'They just wanted to have fun, so I'm not going to be up in arms about it, but it's idiotic and juvenile,' said the 28-year-old.
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Responding to queries from The Sunday Times, a UOB spokesman on Sunday said the pictures were 'taken in the spirit of fun and were not meant to offend or appear to discriminate against anyone at all'.
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'UOB takes racial harmony very seriously and proudly employs more than 20,000 employees of about 50 nationalities. In fact, the occasion was one that was celebrating this diversity,' she added.
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'However, we apologise if members of the public have been offended by the photos and have instructed the staff to remove the photos from their personal site.'
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UOB said it would speak to the staff involved and counsel them.
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The pictures were taken down from Facebook on Sunday night.


7 comments:

  1. This is outright disgusting !!!!! These people clearly have no respect and sensitivity towards the cultural & religious harmony that Singapore has so wonderfully instituted...

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    1. Seriously, Nalin, this is what I felt the moment I read the story...hope these guys mature soon...

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  2. Oh my God....how can they do like that and really was there was not a single person to stop this stupid act.......It is very hard to believe it Ravi.....WE INDIANS ARE THE BEST....JAI HIND

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    1. Thanks Seema for your comments. When outside our homeland, we sometimes get hypersensitive due to the acts like the one above...

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  3. A very nice informational blog.Keep on making such important blog post.Your work is really being appreciated by some one.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for you comments. Keeps me enthused to continue and improve content of my posts.

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  4. Isnt racism institutionalised in Singapore just like corruption has? Well, the government clearly defines everyone based on their race and religion (even in the citizens IC). Singapore is yet to evolve into a place full of Singaporeans. Its still a place made up of Chinese, Indians, Malays, Eurasians etc. The govt likes it that way as it allows them to play on the people's fears and keep their vote banks intact.

    I have seen enough racism in Singapore during my decade long stay there that will put the casteism in India to shame.

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