Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong has wished his Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya by sharing a picture of him with a scarecrow dressed in Malay outfit. The post in his Facebook has been shared over 400 times with most commenters puzzled and dismayed as to why Goh would post such a picture to extend festive greetings his Muslim friends.
One top commenter on Goh’s post said: “Mr Goh, before you or your social media “manager” posted this, did either one of you stopped to ask: “Is this appropriate for the community? Will it stir unwanted emotions instead of goodwill?” If you did, what prompted you to think that this is appropriate for social media? A 15 second greeting video wasn’t available as an option? I certainly expect better from a prominent figure like you, whose older generation of my community has spoken well of your leadership as prime minister.”
One Malay Facebook user’s comments received over 170 responses of approval. He said, “I guess that’s what we are. A scarecrow.”
Others asked if Goh could not find Muslim residents or neighbours to take pictures with to share his festive greetings with Muslims here.
Some Facebook users pointed out that the scarecrow in HortPark is dressed up in different costumes depending on the festive occasion. “It was dressed up in Chinese costume during the Lunar New Year festival,” said the user.
Goh responded later in the evening with another Facebook post to say “he passed by the familiar HortPark scarecrow yesterday and was struck by its change of attire (and) ook a pic to send my greetings to all Muslim friends.” With his post, he shared another picture he took of the scarecrow in January.
“I am dismayed that some have misinterpreted the post as portraying Malays/Muslims as “scarecrows”. This is far from my mind,” Goh added.
“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?”