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On Roy Ngerng.

Hi folks! =) I know it has been a long while since I’d written anything on this personal space–but let me just briefly update before I go to work. I’d be writing another piece later on education in Singapore because I read a rather insightful post today. (You should read it, too!)

Ever since I made that facebook status public, on Roy Ngerng in ISFiT, I’d been getting tons and tons of messages in the “other” folder. Some were long, long messages (up to 3000 words), telling me what they think about the issue. Some were hate mails targetted towards Roy, and basically his haters asked me to forward them all to him. I can’t understand the mentality of the latter group initially, but later I realised Roy basically blocked all these haters.  Oh–but all were anonymous accounts. 

And reasonably so. Let me show you the mildest PM I got of the latter sort, under “others” folder. I deleted the rest of the more violent ones.


Prior to ISFiT I’d met Roy once in Singapore, years before before he got sued. I’d met Roy three times during ISFIT randomly, because it’s a huge event, and we briefly chatted each time. So we are not “friends”, but acquaintances. Having said that, these are my brief impressions of him:

  • I respect his articulation and perspectives on gay rights. I think he was and still is incredibly open about his experiences about being gay in the Singaporean context. I have a couple of gay friends since secondary school, and one of my best guy friends is gay. So, naturally I’m protective of this category of sexuality you’d label as “gay”–not because I’m noble or whatever, but because one of them is my best friend and it’s who he is, and I’d personally heard and witnessed what my gay friend went through. In this light, I’d always seen Roy as a gay-rights activist, speaking up for people like my friend.
  • As mentioned in my facebook status, I respect freedom of expression and speech, but I cannot respect irresponsible freedom of expression of speech. I’d leave it to you to google the exact full case. In this light, I cannot agree with him making groundless accusations.
  • And why did I CHOOSE to make the public statement on facebook? Because simply, Roy Ngerng is quite charismatic! When someone is charismatic, seems nice and friendly with a great smile, and socialize with students with such an outgoing attitude, how many STUDENTS will think critically? “Oh he’s a really nice guy, so he can’t be wrong or politicking.” That’s what SOME–if not most– young folks will think, no? And honestly, if you don’t know a single thing about Singapore beyond “clean”, “safe” and “no chewing gum”–would you care to do in-depth research? SO on this point, I achieved what I wanted by making the public facebook status, because I forwarded the discussion thread to the huge ISFiT facebook group where any student interested in Singapore would read. Or at least KNOW that there has been A LOT of controversy in Singapore about Roy Ngerng’s views.

RECAP of Context: I did that facebook status update because after Roy Ngerng’s speech, STUDENTS started going up to the stage to ask Roy– “How can we help Singapore?” Then I saw tweets like “wow I never knew Singapore was THAT bad” trend on ISFiT twitter stream. If there was one thing I fear for my country, it’s foreign intervention on unreasonable grounds. That seriously made me go wtf. Also, Roy Ngerng did end that speech with “Help us, help us.”

The NEXT day, during morning workshop reflections, a participant in my discussion group also mentioned how “impressed” he was by one student who went up to the stage to comment, after Roy Ngerng’s speech-. The student who went up to stage during QnA commented:”I want to work in Singapore, but I’m afraid of getting into trouble. How can I help you discretely, Roy?”

“Impressed” by foreign intervention? I’m like, what? Talk about critical thinking when you are lapping up a one-sided account blindly.  How much do you know–or care–about Singapore?

So basically I don’t know why Roy made the speech, I don’t know why that participant in my workshop said that, and I don’t know why that QnA guy proclaimed that. I–I was shell shocked. Do you get how I feel? When things just get so ridiculous that you just have nothing to say? Speechless?

I don’t know why the original speech is not up on ISFiT online channels, but at the same time I’m relieved for the ISFiT communication team because I know it will cause more controversy. The ISFiT communications team is made up of university students. Volunteers! I’d seen the head of communications at ISFiT comms apologise in public because of a blunder made in the ISFiT offline press magazines, on one other country. Offline magazines! I didn’t even know people read those! I can only imagine how much pressure the communication team faced to be compelled to make a public apology, and as a communications practitioner I DO respect them for that.

Why am I writing this now–one month later? Because yesterday I got two other super long PMs under my “Others” folder–one month after I posted the status! I just want to say the following–

  • I don’t like foreign intervention–to foreign people who want to “help” Singapore, why don’t you do things for your country first? Why do you assume so quickly? What do you know about my country, and why do you so blatantly ignore context? Why are you so uncritical?
  • I won’t forward hate mails to someone I met briefly at a conference, especially from weird, suspicious and ANONYMOUS facebook accounts.
  • I don’t like an acquaintance and a fellow citizen being demonized. Regardless of political views, I don’t like reading hate mails about him. And these mails are downright illogical and non-constructive!

So, please stop sending me any more messages related to Roy. I think I’d been very clear in articulating what I think already. There has been a lot said about this issue online too, so do your research and be critical. I think I’d done my part in making it clear to the ISFiTers that Roy Ngerng’s views towards Singapore can be extreme, and most of them do see now that a more balanced view is needed.

Last words: My country–is NOT your entertainment.

Peace out, folks!

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