AsiaSingaporeCommuter moves away to another seat after Indian man sits next to...

Commuter moves away to another seat after Indian man sits next to her, sparks intense exchange on casual racism

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Facebook user Aristotle Motii Nandy highlighted a commuter who appeared to be Chinese in his post for moving away to sit elsewhere on an MRT train after he sat next to her. He said, “Blatant prejudice? I sat next to this person and she shifted to another seat…”

In reply to one Facebook user who responded to his post, Aristotle explained, “I just don’t understand what the difference was in moving to another seat between two people … don’t mean to make an example out of her… Would like to understand the thinking behind the action..”

He added that he was, “just stunned… like why….??”

Two other Facebook users who appear to have Indian user handles responded to Aristotle saying:

“you are not the first and won’t be the last to be experiencing it. It happens even to my mom, a 70-year-old aunty, on the public buses. I hope the growing and younger generations are more well informed…”
“It happened to my wife a couple of times too. Then we started to think why we should get affected by someone else’s petty intelligence and childish behavior. I don’t lose anything if you change a seat because of me, rather I get a place to keep my bag now. More comfy ride. We thank them now. 😊”

“This happens all the time. You just need to be magnanimous about it,” suggested one user. He appears to have a user-handle with a Malay name.

When one user with a Chinese sounding user handle suggested that she moved to another seat because of Aristotle’s body odour, Aristotle shot back, “come on (X)…I was just about to sit down…when I entered the train…and the response was immediate.. before I had actually sat..”

In May last year, Ong Siow Heng, a professor of Communication Management Education at Singapore Management University, asked to call out racism. In his op-ed in TODAY, the professor asked his readers to honour Singapore’s National Pledge by calling out racism, even the casual, thoughtless actions or speech, with little malice intended.

In his op-ed he noted that “while some say talking about such issues creates more discord, relationship therapists tell us that respectful discourse about conflict is vital for growth and progress.”

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