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Viral racist video draws concern, including from Shanmugam who's 'not so sure anymore' about 'direction' of Singapore's racial harmony

SINGAPORE — A video of a confrontation between a self-proclaimed racist and an inter-ethnic couple has gone viral and raised concerns among many, including Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, about racism in Singapore.

Screenshot of the video showing Mr Dave Parkash (right in left image) being confronted by a man.

Screenshot of the video showing Mr Dave Parkash (right in left image) being confronted by a man.

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  • A video depicting a confrontation between a self-proclaimed racist and an interracial couple became viral on Sunday
  • The man had approached them out of the blue as he was unhappy that an Indian man and a Chinese woman should be dating
  • Mr Parkash told TODAY that he hoped the video would shed light on these racist instances
  • Reacting to the video, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he is “not so sure” now if Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony

 

SINGAPORE — A video of a confrontation between a self-proclaimed racist and an inter-ethnic couple has gone viral and raised concerns among many, including Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, about racism in Singapore.

The video was shared nearly 3,000 times less than three hours after it was published on Mr Dave Parkash’s Facebook account on Sunday (June 6).

In his post, Mr Parkash, a Singaporean who is half-Indian and half-Filipino, said that he was confronted by a man about the fact that Mr Parkash was with his girlfriend, who is half-Chinese and half-Thai.

The man, who is seen wearing a red sports jersey with the word “Singapore” across his chest, admits on camera to being a racist and claims that Mr Parkash is also being racist for not “marrying” an Indian girl.

The man then says: “I have nothing against Indians, but I think it is racist for an Indian to marry a Chinese girl.”

Mr Parkash then asks incredulously if the man knows what he is saying, adding that the man is a disgrace.

The man replies: “No, no, no, I’m not a disgrace. If you think there is no such thing as racism, you’re wrong, you’re a racist as well… You should date an Indian.

“I’m not saying you, I’m saying the Indian race. I’ve got nothing against you personally but I think it is racist that an Indian prey (sic) on Chinese girls. Prey, as in predatory.”

He goes on to claim that he, as well as “the Chinese”, are not happy with Chinese women marrying Indian men.

In the video, Mr Parkash repeatedly calls out these statements, but refrains from calling the man a racist until the man admits that he is one.

The nine-minute video continues with a heated debate, ending after the man says Mr Parkash’s girlfriend is “disgracing him” and that it would not have been a problem if she is Indian.

Mr Parkash said in his post that he felt embarrassed, humiliated and hurt by this treatment from another Singaporean.

“He humiliated us in public by shaming both her and I, as though we did something wrong… You and I should be able to love whoever we wanna love. Let’s not become like this man in the video,” he wrote.

In response to TODAY's queries, the police confirmed that reports have been lodged and investigations are ongoing. A 60-year-old man is currently assisting with police investigations.

HOPES TO MAKE A STAND ON RACIST BEHAVIOUR

Speaking to TODAY, Mr Parkash, 26, said that the couple was walking towards their car at around 8pm on Saturday when the man approached them out of the blue to say that they were “a disgrace”, which was before the video recording started. The incident happened along Orchard Road.

“I asked him right away if he was referring to us, because we’ve never met the guy before and we don’t know who he is. So right then, I told my girlfriend to start recording… as proof or evidence,” he said.

Mr Parkash, the owner of Lick D Cream gelato shop in Bedok and co-owner of roast meat restaurant Fook Kin, added: “These things should not happen. It is just such a shame because I don’t want rotten apples like that to ruin the harmony that we have.”

He said that he has been together with his girlfriend for around seven years and has experienced people “side-eyeing” them before, but never has anyone confronted them about it in such a manner.

“I guess, even when people side-eye us, we don’t want to think about it and we just brush it off. But yesterday I felt like I really wanted to make a stand. I really want to create awareness.”

The video sparked an outcry against the racist behaviour by the stranger, with many calling for the authorities to deal with the man for harassing Mr Parkash and his girlfriend.

Facebook user Nora Kamsari praised Mr Parkash for being calm throughout the incident, adding: “You guys are a beautiful couple. Keep the love strong and ignore this self-entitled caveman.”

Another Facebook user Lim Deqiang said: “The behaviour of the guy in red is disgusting. I would have called the cops on him.” 

Mr Parkash told TODAY that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and comments that he has received since publishing the post on Sunday afternoon.

The number of inter-ethnic marriages in Singapore has increased over the years, rising from 20.4 per cent of all marriages in 2014 to 22.9 per cent in 2019, official statistics showed. This means that more than one in five couples who tie the knot today are of different races.

INCIDENTS VERY WORRYING: SHANMUGAM

On Sunday, Mr Shanmugam wrote about the incident on his Facebook page, stating that the increasing number of such incidents involving open racism is “quite unacceptable, very worrying”.

“I don’t have the full facts, just what I see in the video. If it’s accurate — then it's horrible. It seems like more people are finding it acceptable to make 'in your face' racist statements — openly. And some try to explain away, each time something like this happens,” he said.

“I used to believe that Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony. Based on recent events, I am not so sure anymore.”

Mr Shanmugam was referring to past events that involved open expressions of racial slurs and racist behaviour.

Last month, a 55-year-old Indian woman who was brisk-walking was kicked by a man in an alleged racist attack. In April, the police were probing incidents of alleged racism and harassment made by a woman who had operated the YouTube page “Beow Tan”, until the platform terminated her account.

In Parliament last month, Mr Shanmugam had warned about several highly racist comments that have been targeting Indians, adding that racism will become normalised if Singapore is not careful when addressing racist comments.

Related topics

racism hate crime K Shanmugam relationships marriage social media

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