Discussing sensitive racial issues rationally
A group of scholars in Singapore wrote an open letter in response to our editorial "Expanding Public Space to Promote Racial Harmony" on June 9. They expressed their disappointment and hope for a response from Lianhe Zaobao. Racial harmony is a common goal for all Singaporeans. We believe that the scholars who signed the letter share the same philosophy and welcome rational and open discussions on the issue.
As the anchor Chinese newspaper in Singapore, we have publicly and unequivocally condemned several recent local incidents of racial discrimination, and jointly defended the hard-won racial harmony in public space through our editorials.
Singapore is a multi-racial nation. We truly believe in the ideals expressed in the national pledge and cherish the hard-won racial harmony, but that does not mean that we believe that there are no tensions in racial relationships.
Lianhe Zaobao has always taken a consistent stance on upholding equality among all races and advocating that there should be mutual understanding among ethnic groups, and this is evident from our editorials, news reports and feature articles. In the midst of the pandemic, we have seen more racial tensions simmering, which is why we have published a total of seven editorials related to this issue in the past year and a half.
We hope our readers will see the June 9 editorial in its entirety. The editorial analyses the problem from three aspects, attempting to show that the pandemic, social media, and popular ideological trends from abroad have all exacerbated racial tensions. The editorial cites Critical Race Theory (CRT) as an example of the influence of foreign ideas. We note that some scholars have used the CRT framework, which originated in the 1970s in the United States, to explain local racial issues, thus criticising us for downplaying the "systemic and structural racism" in Singapore. At the same time, there are different interpretations of CRT in academic circles, and one should not easily dismiss the critique of CRT by serious scholars as a "far-right American perspective".
We strongly believe that when discussing the issue of race in Singapore, we should not be applying foreign ideas and concepts without adapting to local conditions. Racial discrimination exists in every society, and there are commonalities as well as specificities. Theories and concepts based on foreign situations may not always be applicable to Singapore. Sometimes, instead of deepening our understanding of the issue and promoting consensus, they may complicate it. But we are also aware and accept that there are those who do not agree with such views and positions.