Curry - our new national icon

By Benita Aw Yeong

I just got a Facebook invitation to gather with my friends to cook curry next Sunday.

It said: "Cook a pot of curry and let its aroma permeate!"

Aug 21 has unofficially become Cook Curry Day in Singapore with multiple Facebook groups inviting people to join in the fun.

Innocuous in itself, this has taken on a slightly patriotic overtone because of a recent furore online.

For those who don't keep up with the local blogosphere and online forums, Singaporeans are up in arms over curry-cooking.

The controversy broke on Monday when local freesheet Today reported that a family who had recently moved here from China objected to the smell of curry-cooking from their next-door neighbour. This escalated into a feud.

Mediation is reported to have resulted in the Indian family agreeing to cook curry only when the Chinese family were not home.

Netizens reacted angrily, with many slamming the mediation process as they felt the "solution" was "unfair".

Many were also incensed by what they felt was insensitivity on the part of the Chinese family and the mediator to our multi-cultural and multi-racial society.

A letter of clarification by the Community Mediation Unit later explained that the mediator did not actually propose the solution, but merely facilitated the process by which the families came to an acceptable solution.

But this did little to temper the fiery feelings online.

Netizens argued that if foreign visitors found the Singaporean way of life unpleasant, they shouldn't stay here in the first place.

Perhaps anti-foreigner sentiments have been exacerbated by two other recent online incidents.

A foreign student was expelled after he put up a video making racist comments and mocking locals.

And an investigation was promised after a foreign healthcare worker described Singaporeans as "moronic".

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