Wednesday, 29 January 2014

We can afford to forgive this arrogant twerp

On Wednesday, I had a nice, gossipy lunch at leafy Dempsey with a friend. As I drove off afterwards down a one-way lane, I saw a car hurtling towards me in the opposite - and wrong - direction. I tucked my tiny Suzuki to one side and watched as the driver zipped past.

It was a Caucasian male in rolled-up shirt sleeves. He didn't look apologetic; he didn't wave to acknowledge I had slowed down for him to zip past against the traffic direction. Sure, we were the only cars on the road and Dempsey is a quiet area on weekday afternoons, so it wasn't a particular hardship to let him pass.

But still. "Ang moh," I muttered to myself, shaking my head

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Singapore PM Lee cautions against lynch mob mentality

Citing the recent episode involving Briton Anton Casey, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday cautioned Singaporeans against having a lynch mob mentality, as he noted how social media has complicated society’s fault lines.

Speaking at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ministerial forum, Mr Lee highlighted three fault lines: Between Singaporeans and those new to the country, the rich and the poor, as well as between different races and religions.

Last week, Mr Casey became the target of online vitriol after his derogatory comments about the public transport system and Singaporeans went viral on social media.

related: British expat leaves job after Singapore ‘poor people’ remark

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Singapore PM hits back at social media "pack behaviour"

 Internet rules are necessary to restrain "pack behaviour" in social media and ensure civility between users, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in remarks released Wednesday.

Speaking at a university forum late Tuesday, Lee said social media raised the risk of an overreaction from the public when contentious incidents occur in the ethnically diverse city-state, with "unrestrained, anonymous viciousness".

Lee, who has nearly 260,000 Facebook followers, referred to several local incidents that have sparked off unbridled web outrage, including derogatory comments against Singaporeans posted on social media by British expatriate Anton Casey last week.

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ST editor: Casey has apologised, let’s move on

Straits Times editor Chua Mui Hoong has penned an article beseeching Singaporeans to forgive British lout Anton Casey whose antics, of course, are well known to all.

Ms Chua’s article appears in the Sunday Times today (26 Jan). It has the title ‘We can afford to forgive this arrogant twerp’ and the subtitle ‘Anton Casey has done us wrong and apologised. Enough is enough’. defines “twerp” as slang for “an insignificant or despicable fellow”.

Assuming that Ms Chua writes her own headlines, it is very strange that she would insult Casey by calling him a “twerp” while advocating forgiveness. Surely, forgiveness involves not returning insult for insult by calling someone a twerp, unless Ms Chua does not practise what she preaches.

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People are all ‘tulan’ with Anton Casey

Chua Mui Hoong is clearly living dangerously here, saying that Singaporeans can be over ‘prickly’ when foreigners mock us, and that we need to do some ‘self-reflection’. She has also jumped on the ‘spare Anton’ campaign bandwagon after SKM chairman William Wan called for tolerance and empathy, except using the less subtle approach of slamming the guy as an ‘arrogant little twerp’ (the kind of insult that Joe Pesci’s bungling burglar would use on Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone) and then calling for forgiveness later.

The strangest bit about her ‘opinion’ piece is describing Anton’s downfall as him ‘having a personal EPIPHANY’. Is he getting canonised in Perth as we speak or what? The worst thing that could happen now, with people wanting to make pandering statements by straddling the fence between condemnation and forgiveness, is if Anton Casey becomes not just a ‘poster-child’ of Singapore’s expat millionaires, as fellow expat and ST contributor Rob O’Brien put it elegantly (Anton Casey is not every expat, 26 Jan 2014, Sunday Times), but God forbid, victimised to the point of anti-hero and martyr. Enough is enough already.

But reflect I shall. Not if we’re being too harsh on Anton, but rather if this backlash that could be felt all over the world would mean that netizens and online vigilantes are creating a climate of social media phobia for themselves. Fear of saying the wrong things and losing your job over it because someone started a chain reaction of Facebook ‘sharing’. Whether the brouhaha has led to some form of self-censorship, where we’re afraid to touch on matters like race, religion, or class in a non-PC way because you never know when a random post gets blown out of proportion.

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Will there be a backlash against the backlash against the backlash against the backlash against Anton Casey?

While a few have hit out against the over-the-top reaction to Casey's Facebook posts, the one who got the most attention was William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, who, in The Straits Times on Jan 24, asked "if we are losing touch with our empathetic nature".

Yesterday's Sunday Times also ran an article headlined "We can afford to forgive this arrogant twerp" which asked if "we have the grace to accept an apology and forgive". Netizens took offence, which led to a...

Why Lui Tuck Yew should say Thank Yew to Anton Casey

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Anton Casey caused quite a stir when he posted rude and offensive remarks online about 'poor people' who take public transport. Now, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah has said that "everybody deserves a second chance."

She was speaking to reporters while attending a community event in Queenstown on Saturday. She explained that with social media, everyone must be careful of what they write as it impacts a wide audience including current and potential employers

Referring to the comments made by Anton Casey, she described them as "truly objectionable" while at the same time, she said that netizens should be careful not to take their reactions too far.

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The Case of Anton Casey: When the Punishment is Worse than the Crime

How many of us would advocate hanging for a verbal personal insult?  Or cutting off a hand for stealing?  Or whipping and cutting off the livelihood of someone who was rude?  And extend that punishment not just to the rude person but to his young son and wife?

What an online mob in Singapore just did to British banker, Anton Casey, his Singaporean ex-beauty queen wife and their five year old son who collectively fled to Perth was similarly harsh.  He took his family to safety after death threats and people asked whether his firm, Crossinvest Asia, would fire him for insults to Singapore’s public transport taking people.  The uproar quickly spiralled into an online tirade against him.  It culminated in his address and mobile numbers being circulated online.

Surely, while what he said, was clearly rude, utterly crass, and denigrating the public transport-taking section of Singapore’s public and all non-Singaporean residents who take public transport, the punishment was far worse than the crime. And he did apologise.  Even if the first apology was issued through a public relations firm and seen as insincere, he quickly realised, that was insufficient and personally issued not just an apology, calling it the greatest mistake of his life and offering to do community work.  He sought not just to say sorry, but to atone for the wrong.  Even if he is doing this on the advice of his public relations consultant, surely someone who has offered to try and make amends, should be taken up on the offer and given a second chance.

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Rebutting Sharon Snodgrass on Anton Casey

Anton Casey

Sharon, Sharon, Here are 3 issues I take exception with in your article (‘Anton Casey saga: When punishment is worse than crime‘).

> Casey ‘fleeing’ to Perth is his own doing. There is no evidence whatsoever of anyone asking him to take ‘temporary’ refuge in Perth…He has admitted that his insult is the ‘biggest mistake in his life’…Note: It’s the fact that he was found out, not that viewing MRT riders as poor or their stench are his ‘real mistakes’. What do you have to say to that?

Anyway, if I was him with his kind of money, I’d fly to Switzerland for a late winter ski. That he hadn’t maybe because it’s cheaper to fly to Perth with his Krisflyer miles. Maybe.

> You are very kind indeed to take ALL Casey’s claims to be true. Do remember that the police are still investigating his claims of threats to his life and his family’s. If you look at Singapore’s record (here, some credit to the strict laws passed by the PAP), killing or threatening to kill others is NOT the done thing. Did it not occur to you that Casey could have made that claim up to gain sympathy, especially from writers like you, with access to mass publications?

related: The Case of Anton Casey: When the Punishment is Worse than the Crime

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Should we punish Anton Casey?
Anger: Singaporeans were infuriated by Anton Casey's comments about the 'stench of public transport'

Should people demand Anton Casey leave just because he made some rude, condescending remarks about Singaporeans? Here I am going to present a number of points, running against the current sentiment, about why there is no good reason to.

A number of prominent Singaporeans have spoken up against Anton Casey, asking him to leave if he cannot show basic courtesy and respect to Singaporeans. Among those who have deemed his comments unacceptable are a number of MPs.

Yet before we consider metaphorically prosecuting the man for his no doubt insensitive comments, should we not consider the implications of our reactions as well? How did bad speech become conflated with Anton Casey being a bad person?

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Let’s not stoop to Anton Casey’s level

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.

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Scoot Over: The Thin Line Between Two Anton Casey-inspired Marketing Messages
The Tuckshop, a quaint bar along Guillemard Road on the outskirts of Singapore’s bustling city centre, was quick on the draw. On January 22, just two days after Mr Anton Casey’s now-infamous Facebook comments went viral, the watering-hole doodled the words “Wanker Special” on the chalkboard erected outside its entrance

“$120 pints for Anton Casey; $12 pints for the rest of us poor Singaporeans,” the promotion read. The bar’s tongue-in-cheek announcement was a hit.

It cost the “made by locals” pub close to nothing for the chalk to scrawl a couple of words on a blackboard, but the positive response to it was priceless. Photographs of the playful signage, albeit politically incorrect, too went viral on social media.

Perhaps inspired by the success of The Tuckshop’s advertising genius, budget airline Scoot on Jan 26 decided to ride on the coattails of Singaporeans’ continued fixation with Mr Anton Casey and came up with an advertisement of their own.

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Friends and Values - a Reflection

To consider being called "poor" as an insult, we have to share the same values as the insulter - that is, we have to also believe that it is a shame to be poor, that it is an insult to be poor, that it is a sign of some personal failing to be poor, and that if someone calls us "poor", we would consider it an insult.

In our anger against Anton Casey, who we are truly angry with is ourselves. We see our arrogance reflected in him. We hear the warped values he voiced whispered within us. We feel ashamed of our disdain for poor people, for foreign workers, for our domestic helpers, for the bent-over old person collecting cans or cardboard. Because we believe as Anton Casey does, that these poor people are poor because of some personal failing on their part.

And that is wrong. And we know it is wrong.

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The Ballad of Anton Casey

Well, needless to say none of that went over well. The internet reacted, MP’s in government commented (that would be like John Boehner commenting on something you tweet to the national press!), Mr. Casey lost his job and has since fled to Perth. All in the course of a week.

Wow! The stupidity and arrogance of his post is just stunning, as was his initial reaction to the uproar (more snark, very little apology). The swiftness in which he was run out of town is amazing, a testament to the speed in which Singapore can move at times to anything that disrupts the social order. Double so, if that disruption is coming from a Foreigner. Mr. Casey seems to have forgotten he was a guest of Singapore, and as with any rude guest he was shown the door.

I can only hope that his actions will not reflect too much on those of us who are happy to be here and who do appreciate all Singapore has to offer us.

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What a week

I guess by now, you would have known all about this ang moh call Anton Casey. If you are still in the dark, google his name or search him in yahoo, there are a list of news articles all about his foolish comment. While I feel sorry for his Singaporean wife and son who perhaps, are preparing for the Chinese New Year festival, have to drop everything and fly off to Perth. The reunion dinner must have been booked but all plans have to be called off because of some insensitive remarks written without  thinking through.

I do not blame my fellow citizens for being angry. In fact, angry is an understatement. For so long, we have allowed the foreigners to stamp on us. There is a long list as far as I can remember. From the brawl outside Suntec City to being called dogs to the racist remarks by Amy Cheng…patience has a limit. Ang Mohs must wake up. They do not rule us like they used to do during the colonial days. That is history, the past.

If there is anything to learn from this episode, it is no longer about you but your family as well. Look at how his foolishness has caused so much pain and hurt for his family. Always remember, the pen is mightier than the sword or in this era, it is the keyboard.

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The Anton Casey case sparked an outcry over netizens, and even some of my friends had joined in the wagon with their criticisms, harsh words and blaming on the government about the lax approach on foreign talent.

Everyone has their freedom of speech but something that irks me was that some people who called Anton Casey names did not stop at that. how could anyone be so cruel to call his son retarded; look retarded and even his wife a tranny? Worst still, his son is only 5 and prolly is indeed not well..

They are innocent parties, lest for his wife who previously commented about SG men.. Where are our empathy and have we forgotten what it is to be kind? We are no different attacking his family members. And some others even publish his address, company details online instigating others to harrass and / or shame him.. What has happened to our mankind, or rather our Singapore?

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Anton Casey Left Singapore with Family

It sure escalated fast, I remember reading about his comments on Facebook last week and now he has left Singapore with his family. I did a search about him and people were relentlessly bombarding him, even people who were trying to be nice were attacked as well, the wrath of Singapore's netizens is limitless and merciless. I think people are getting overly worked up over this issue, and also being online and without having to face the person himself, it's easier to say whatever you want, and I feel that people just lose control.

Anyway his comments were not entirely wrong, the part where he mentioned the stench on our MRT, that's true, our MRT is indeed smelly, being a regular commuter I had to endure the stench of farts, burps, sweat or strange food smells, I'm not saying I never fart nor burp nor sweat, it's just that some people do it on the train, I never fart or burp on the train, I do have the urge sometimes but I can force myself to endure until I leave the station, some people just let loose inside the train, it's really disgusting, but I guess it can't be helped sometimes, maybe some people have no total control over it like me.

But the part where he implied through his son's comments that poor people take the train, that's wrong, people take the train because it is convenient and cheap, just look at people who board at Tanah Merah or Kembangan, they don't look poor to me, we have millions of commuters, does that mean we have millions of poor people? Of course not. I thought he was going to get panned for that kind of comment but I didn't expect such a severe consequence. Anyway with such high COE prices and maintenance costs, not everyone can afford a car, even if everyone can afford a car, there's no way our government is going to let that happen, just how big is Singapore? If everybody has a car, I can't imagine the chaos.

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Finally the last word on Anton Casey

Anyway, over to my reader 'Unknown' for the last word. This was first posed on my last post on Anton Casey. A lot has happened in the past week. First there was the rant by Stephanie Koh on why she was not proud to be Singaporean, the insensitive remarks by Anton Casey and the furore that led to his exile to Perth, the anger at fare hikes amid more frequent MRT disruptions and higher profitability, and not to forget the riots in Little Indiapopulation protest and free my internet movement last year. Do all these things add up? Do they collectively hint that there is a larger problem in Singapore or are they just isolated incidents?

First let me start with the educational system in Singapore. Its meritocratic system only allows a small fraction of locals to study at its local uni. Students are streamed at primary 6 and split into normal, express and special stream based on their abilities. Then at 'O' Levels, students are channelled into ITE, polytechnics or junior colleges again based on their abilities. For ITE and polytechnic students, most of them do not get the chance to study at local unis.

They stop at their level or pursue foreign degrees if they can afford it. For JC students who finished 'A' Levels, most will be absorbed into local unis. A small number of exceptionally smart 'A' Level students who aced their exams will be offered government scholarship. Some of these scholars will go on to become elites in the system and exert great control over the lives of Singaporeans. In order to find those elites at the top of the pile, the educational system has to be made as rigorous and difficult as possible, forcing many students to become study robots (coined by Stephanie Koh).

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Anton Casey

– Limpeh is Foreign Talent: Finally the last word on Anton Casey
– Singapore 2B: Friends and Values – a Reflection
– Singapore Adventures: The Ballad of Anton Casey
– My Singapore News: Be kind to William Wan
– S M ONG: Will there be a backlash against the backlash against Anton Casey?
– This and that from mama: What a week
– The Girl in the White Dress: The Anton Casey case
– Marry Thai Girl Singapore: Anton Casey Left Singapore with Family
– TOC: Should we punish Anton Casey?
– Reflections and Ruminations: The power of The Word
– Daniel Food Diary: Time to Think Before We Type, Because Anger Begets Anger
– Dum Fata Sinunt, Vivite Laeti: Understanding Anton Casey
– Gintai_昇泰: Foreign Talent Anton Casey dug his own grave!
– Loh and Behold: Hounded Out – Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish?
– Tots of a Cynical Investor: “Mummy, flying economy is worse than taking the MRT!”
– Better Off Ted: Why Singaporeans need to Revoke Anton’s PR Status
– Anonymous_X: Of Anton Casey and his greatest mistake
– Everything Also Complain: People are all ‘tulan’ with Anton Casey
– Singapore Notes: Something Is Wrong With William
– [FB] Oon Shu An: Open letter to Anton Casey
– TOC: About respecting people and blending in
– Cynical Investor: Bernice Wong: Anton’s masculine, not sheltered, babyed & childish
– Just Speaking My Mind: Tough Action Needs to be Taken on Anton Casey
– Limpeh is Foreign Talent: The Sedition Act and Anton Casey?
– Musings From the Lion City: No Death Threats Please
– Iron Bowl: Rich Expats in Singapore get different treatment by the law
– A Singaporean In Australia: Monsters Beneath the Skin
– The Fida: Anton Casey – #1 Public Enemy?
– [FB] Andrew Loh: Go Home, Mr Casey
– The Gingerbread Mum: Singapore, My Home, Where I Belong
– Bertha Henson: The PR case for Casey
– Sg Hall of Shame: Casey apologises but gets PR firm & lawyers to hound Sporeans
– A Singaporean In Australia: The Worst Local Bank
– New Nation: S’poreans touched by British expat Anton Casey’s heartfelt apology
– TOC: Anton Casey’s employer “investigating” his comments
– Signs of Struggle: Welcome, Anton Casey, to Social Media 101 (3 credits)
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Open letter to HSBC S’pore on Anton Casey
– Ravi Philemon: Proud of my ‘poor’ Singaporean stench
– Singapore Hall of Shame: British FT Anton Casey is a mf ch**bye kia
– LimpehForeignTalent: Why Sporeans have no influence on Anton Casey’s employer
– Mothership: Former Miss S’pore Universe’s husband’s in massive online backlash
– Singapore Notes: SMRT Stinks
– New Nation: Poor S’poreans apologise to rich white guy
– Thy-Dowager: Miss SG’s Foreigner Husband calls Sporeans: “POOR PEOPLE”
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Remember Anton Casey, he’s back!
Expats in the News

We can afford to forgive this arrogant twerp
Where has all our empathy gone?
British Expat Banker Apologises For Poor Judgment
MRT Hero Stood Up To Bully