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More complex issues than racial privilege

I am unconvinced that the concept of Chinese privilege brought up by Straits Times reporter Yuen Sin and Lianhe Zaobao reporter Ng Wai Mun helps advance the important conversation on race (A framework to check one's ignorance; Embracing our multiple identities; both published on Feb 15).

It is interesting that Ms Ng brings up the election of United States President Donald Trump. The reactions of Trump voters to the notion of white privilege was the same as Ms Ng's friends to the idea of Chinese privilege. Americans were befuddled as to how being unemployed and uneducated could possibly be a sign of white privilege, just as the Nantah generation would be befuddled at how having their university taken away and their dialects being wiped from television could signify any form of Chinese privilege.

Racism in the modern context tends to be a manifestation of frustration from the lower classes. It would be wrong to say that Singaporeans who are worried about Chinese nationals or Europeans taking their jobs are racist per se. In fact, it could be argued that adopting a privilege-oppression framework is an internalisation of white privilege. The derivative concept of Chinese privilege among millennials might stem from unaccounted-for bias in social media platforms like Facebook.

As we approach Singapore's bicentennial, let us reflect on the privilege all races here share - that none of us has to be afraid of being shot down by activists attacking racial privilege.

Clement Wee Hong En

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'More complex issues than racial privilege'. Print Edition | Subscribe