Ministers, Singaporeans weigh in on Amy Cheong case

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and at least three other Cabinet ministers have weighed in on racially offensive comments made by a former National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) staff member which went viral online.

Making posts on their respective Facebook pages yesterday, they also commended NTUC for acting quickly to dismiss Ms Amy Cheong, who was an assistant director with the labour union's Membership department.

In a post made on her Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, Ms Cheong expressed outrage at Malay weddings held at void decks of residential blocks. She complained about the length of those events, among other comments. It sparked an uproar among netizens.

In response, Mr Lee said he was shocked to hear of the incident, saying that Ms Cheong's comments "were just wrong and totally unacceptable".

He added that she "promptly apologised for her grievous mistake...but the damage has been done".

He urged Singaporeans to treat this as what it is - "an isolated case that does not reflect the strength of race relations in Singapore".

Mr Lee said: "But it sharply reminds us how easily a few thoughtless words can cause grave offence to many, and undermine our racial and religious harmony.

"Let us all be more mindful of what we say, online and in person, and always uphold the mutual respect and sensitivity that holds our society together."

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam wrote: "The person's comments were offensive not only to Malay-Muslims, but also to all the rest of us who value Singapore's multiracial spirit and who want to take it further."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam called Ms Cheong's comments "shameful". He said the incident confirmed what he had long suspected and had said before, that there are "deep fault lines in our society" based on race and religion.

"The emergence of the Internet and social media...frees some people to say what is really in their hearts," he said.

"Her comments reflect a deep-seated racist attitude, coupled with contempt for those who are less well off, or who wish to spend less."

Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Internet, SPH, David Bowden, Sumadi Sarkawi)

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