Let's not stoop to Anton Casey's level

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Dear fellow Singaporeans,

I write these words with concern over the extent to which the Anton Casey has brought out the worst in us as human beings. To put things in perspective, I am neither a foreign talent, nor am I linked to the Government. I am a Singaporean citizen, who, despite having strong degree qualifications, has not been able to find a job in Singapore.

I was as outraged as the next Singaporean following Anton Casey’s insulting behaviour. I was (and still am) sceptical of any shred of sincerity behind  Casey’s statements of apology. However, as the Anton Casey saga continues, I am concerned with the increasingly shrill tone of many Singaporean netizens. Here is a selection of comments on Casey and his family that have continued even after he has been fired and has fled the country:

‘Chao Ang Moh’ (Hokkien: ‘smelly Caucasian’)

‘White trash’

‘Both father and son look retarded’

‘White ape’

Worse still are the death threats that have apparently been made against him and his family. Death threats are not only illegal in practically every law statute around the world, but also totally reprehensible, given that Casey’s five-year-old son was more likely coerced into doing this by his irresponsible father.

Criticising  Casey’s manners is one thing (which I took part in as well), but does it justify personal attacks on his son, who had nothing to do with his father’s manners, yet will have to live out his life in the shadow of his father’s notoriety? Is it fair to castigate every Caucasian residing in Singapore over a handful of moronic fatcats? Most Caucasians residing in Singapore have joined us in condemning Casey’s behaviour. Some examples:

‘It makes me angrier that this idiot is from my own country. This is an arrogant man who has no respect for the people around him who work hard to make their own lives and the lives of those around them better.’

‘I am a foreigner. It makes me angry that someone from another country doesn’t respect the country he stays in.’

Moreover, we must remember that, given the composition of Singapore’s economy, the wealth of our nation is dependent on foreign investors’ confidence in Singapore’s peace and stability. Our national interests are not served by images of Singapore as a nation of hooligans. Allow me to quote a remark from the forum page of a foreign newspaper:

‘Before this case, I would have thought of Singapore like some super rich, super modern, very high tech, futuristic city state where everything is clean, new and efficient. But looking at the reaction over this case, I can see it shares more in common with a Sub-Saharan state … when it comes to this kind of lynch mob mentality, it’s like, ‘you’ve insulted me, I shall respond by threatening to kill your family.’

The reader’s statement underscores a valid point: do we want Singapore to be seen by the world as a nation of lynch mobs? How many investors and tourists are willing to visit and do business with such a country?

I wish to reiterate: I am not an apologist for Casey. I too condemned Casey’s conduct, but I have since then become uncomfortable with the emergence of an online lynch mob. Casey has made his point (albeit crudely and obnoxiously), that is, ‘Singapore’s public transport system needs upgrading’. We (Singaporeans and FTs residing in Singapore) have made our point in response: ‘Yes, the public transport needs improvement. And you, Casey are an arrogant, elitist snob. Your obnoxious manners are not welcome in Singapore.’

As Casey has been fired by his employer and has fled Singapore, we have a victory of sorts. The fact that Casey’s professional reputation is now in tatters worldwide should be satisfaction enough. Let us now be magnanimous. Not long ago, Nicole Seah was unfairly and inaccurately portrayed by a newspaper as having an affair with a married man; she chose not to take legal action after receiving an apology from the newspaper in question.

Nicole Seah has set an example for all of us to follow in striving for a Singapore that all of us can be proud of: We will not accept being bullied or insulted by others, but we shall not seek to crush a defeated opponent into the ground. Conversely, we have Anton Casey, who stands as an example of the kind of bad manners we should avoid.

Let us conclude this saga by agreeing that  Casey is an arrogant, socially unpleasant fatcat whose manners are not welcome in Singapore. I would be most ashamed to call myself a Singaporean if we have to stoop to Casey’s level of obnoxiousness in continuing to harass his family with death threats, along with unfairly insulting generalisations about Caucasians residing in Singapore.

By a concerned Singaporean