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ESM Goh 'dismayed' after Hari Raya greeting on Facebook was 'misinterpreted'

SINGAPORE — Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong said on Tuesday (May 3) he was "dismayed" that some people have "misinterpreted" his Facebook post as portraying Malays or Muslims as scarecrows.

Mr Goh Chok Tong and his wife posing for a picture with a scarecrow at Hort Park on May 2, 2022 (left), after he noticed that the scarecrow had a change in attire from the one in January 2022 (right).
Mr Goh Chok Tong and his wife posing for a picture with a scarecrow at Hort Park on May 2, 2022 (left), after he noticed that the scarecrow had a change in attire from the one in January 2022 (right).

SINGAPORE — Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong said on Tuesday (May 3) he was "dismayed" that some people have "misinterpreted" his Facebook post as portraying Malays or Muslims as scarecrows. 

His remarks, which were made on the social media platform, came after an earlier Facebook post of a Hari Raya greeting drew criticism. 

The initial Facebook post, which was put up at 7.50pm on Monday, featured a photograph of himself and his wife posing with a scarecrow decked in a baju kurung, a traditional Malay costume, with the message, "Selamat Hari Raya Puasa to all our Muslim friends". 

The post, which has since drawn more than 400 comments and more than 600 shares, prompted several Facebook users to describe the post as "tone deaf", "distasteful" and "inappropriate", with some accusing the former prime minister of depicting Muslims as scarecrows. 

A day later, Mr Goh put up a second Facebook post, saying: "This is far from my mind. I spent my political lifetime working for a harmonious multi-racial society.

"This episode reminds us that strengthening multi-racialism is always work in progress. All of us have to do our part. Scary, isn’t it?" 

The second Facebook post was accompanied by a picture of Mr Goh taken in January with the same scarecrow but in another attire. 

Mr Goh added that he had passed by the scarecrow in Hort Park on Monday and was "struck by its change of attire". 

Noting that Singapore's "public spaces celebrate the festivals of our various communities throughout the year", he said that he had taken a picture "to send my greetings to all Muslim friends".

"I am dismayed that some have misinterpreted the post as portraying Malays/Muslims as 'scarecrows'," he wrote.

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