The Need To ‘Cheong’ as a Society

The advent of technology these days lands a lot of people in the hot soup.

It’s worst when you are holding a position in office whereby you are leading a group of people and your personal opinion/unhappiness gets aired in public by your own guilty admission.

Yesterday, I was rocked by a series of comments/ FB updates on a certain individual which goes by the name, ‘Amy Cheong’, an Assistant Director at NTUC in charge of Membership, she had posted up a comment on her FB which eventually led to her being a trending topic on FB and Twitter.

NTUC Amy Cheong

NTUC Amy Cheong

Whilst her comments didn’t quite sit well with the majority because it had an expression of racism, it showed the seriousness of the issues that Singaporeans are living with despite being highly educated and living in highly a highly connected world, destroying what our predecessors had built up for so decades.

Living in a multi-racial/religious society like Singapore or pretty much, anywhere in this globalised world, one is made to live alongside communities who have a different set of cultural traditions. Singapore’s government housing policy to ensure that community living in HDB flats could emulate the success of Kampong living may have taken off well when it first started but the novelty has since eroded as more home owners/tenants now prefer to remain behind closed doors as opposed to keeping their doors open.

Of course, leaving your door open today is also a major security concern because identifying strange faces would be relatively a challenge. This in comparison to kampong living whereby a strange face would be easily identified because if you don’t live there, then being in that kampong needs to be justified. And arresting/apprehending suspects is much easier as well because of this very same reason.

Where do we go from here as Singaporeans?

Have we truly understood what it means to live in a multi-racial/religious society or have we simply forgotten how to?

As individuals begin to be more disconnected in understanding others cultural and religious beliefs, there is a pressing need for communities to constantly have conversations with each other, to question to seek a better understanding, all in the name of community living.

Just ask yourself, how much do you know about the communities living or working amongst/with you?

Nonetheless, in a society that’s constantly evolving and trying to seek it’s own unique identity, we are bound to face frequent setbacks in our progress and such hiccups provides an insight into the larger issues which needs to be addressed. It’s not bad in my opinion, it’s just unfortunate that some individuals have to be penned down in history as the one who caused the issue.

Ms Amy Cheong, I forgive you for your ignorance but in your attempt to seek an understanding of the Malay Wedding and draw a relationship with Divorce rates, perhaps you should have exercised due diligence in exercising your EQ as the Assistant Director of Singapore’s largest union organisation which has thousands of Malays as members.

THAT Hari Raya Puasa Party

Ramadhan is indeed drawing to an end and whilst Muslims around the world celebrate the success of our Jihad (personal struggle and YES! Muslims are on a very huge Jihad come every Ramadhan) towards self-control from committing sinful acts during this fasting month, our non-Muslim friends celebrate the long weekend which will begin from Friday night to Monday, as its an off-in-lieu.

And while Muslims globally celebrate with prayers and visiting our friends and relatives to ask for forgiveness as well as to forge closer ties between one another, I’m sure in some part of the world, our non-Muslim friends will be celebrating in style at the clubs dancing and enjoying themselves over the long weekend.

And in Singapore, one such organiser will be organising an event themed after Hari Raya Puasa at a club with booze and dancing to Dato Siti Nurhaliza songs this coming Saturday, 18 August 2012.

Hari Raya Puasa Party

Hari Raya Puasa Party

Now, I’m no saint or should ever be considered as being holier than thou but as a Muslim, I do feel enraged at the insensitivity of the organisers to organise a themed party related to a religion which prohibits amongst others; Alcohol, Free mixing between genders, Dancing/Partying. (I’m not sure if any other religion prohibits what has been mentioned but if they don’t, then I don’t see why there should be any restriction on celebrating such occasions but since Islam prohibits it, I don’t think there should be an association made between what is prohibited with the celebration)

I think what makes it worst is that the songs that the patrons will be performing to will be that of a renowned Muslim, Dato Siti Nurhaliza. Nevermind the singing, but it is just utter disrespectful to be singing her songs especially when her face and name is featured on the marketing collaterals, giving the impression that perhaps she supports or endorses the event, which I highly doubt so because she is performing her small pilgrimage at Makkah at the moment.

But my issue here is not so much with the insensitivity or lack of knowledge of the organisers, as I’m sure there are many others out there living amongst us in society. My issue is that there is a lack of inter-religious education within society in what we call Multi-Racial, Multi-Religious Tolerant Singapore.

And in being tolerant, we practice to deliberately allow or permit something which we disapprove of. In easier terms, to bear with it or to endure it. And of course, to bear with it or endure it also means that there’s a certain limit that one can bear with and when it transgresses the limits, something may or will happen.

I’m not blaming the organisers of the event as they aren’t Muslims and they have also apologised but perhaps this incident would be a good lesson for all of us, regardless, Muslims or not, that it is important for us to exercise the importance of due diligence to understand and to respect one another, living in this Multi-Racial and Religious society. (I have blogged about this previously here)

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