Thursday, October 22, 2009

Racial discrimination in London and manifesto of British National Party (BNP)

Prior to coming to London, I've always been in the 'majority' category. Approximately 75% of Singapore's population are categorised as 'Chinese' on their identity cards. Naturally being an ethnic Chinese, I have never felt any discrimination in the tiny isle I call home.

In fact, none of my close friends are non-Chinese and I never really interacted socially with the other 25% of the population until I was enlisted into National Service at the age of 19. For the next 2.5 years, one's skin colour did not matter as we learn to watch out for each other. Though it's a pity that I didn't manage to make any lifelong buddies from other races while I was in the Army, a person's race, skin colour or religion was never an issue.

Well, perhaps that was easy for me to say as I was among the majority.

That was precisely the reason why I was a bit apprehensive when Wife and I first arrive in London. For the first time in my life, I would be labelled as the minority. For some reason, the press back home didn't exactly paint a very pleasant picture of the UK and the Caucasians (believe it or not, most Singaporeans can't differentiate between Americans and Europeans, much less the different nationalities within Europe) working in Singapore seem to have this uppity attitude, which is hardly endearing to the local populace.

Then I arrived in London in the summer of 2007. Much to my surprise, London (or England for the matter) is not about a huge lumbering and ineffective NHS, rampant discrimination, dishonest politicians or bad weather. The English people whom I have come across are actually polite, full of self deprecating humour and among the most generous people that I have ever met.

On the same note, London, is an all encompassing and bustling metropolitan. One poster on the walls of an Underground Station that I came across during my first weeks here left such a deep impression on me that I spoke of it repeatedly with my folks back home. The poster was about a phone helpline for victims of homophobia. Coming from a place where homosexual acts are still outlawed under the Penal Code (though no one has been persecuted thus far) while taxmen chase after the pink dollar, that counts for a lot. At that split second, I being an ethnic Chinese and now a minority, felt safe.

However, for those of us who actually think that violent racial discrimination is non-existent in the UK would get a wake up call after the most recent episode of Panorama. To be honest, I was rather disturbed and couldn't bring myself to finish watching the episode and if you have missed that, you can catch that on BBC iPlayer.

I understand the frustration of the local populace when foreigners come into the country en mass. When I left Singapore in two years back, immigrants were already a social issue back home. Singaporeans who are expected to serve National Service for between 2 to 2.5 years of their life find themselves increasing sidelined by newcomers in the local job market. Understandably, there were some tensions, which continue till this day.

Tonight, BBC has invited British National Party (BNP) to Question Time where the party, which pursue an only whites agenda, will be given a chance to present their manifesto. Don't get me wrong. I am all for free speech and strongly believe that an open debate will be healthy. However, while you're watching the program tonight, please remember that for every foreigner who exploits the local system, there will be another who is law abiding, pay his taxes, pays into NHS (but have never used it) and have no recourse to public funds, and yet grateful for the opportunities that this country has given him.

Find out how BNP's debut on Question Time went...
Griffin insists "I am not a Nazi" - Guardian
Nick Griffin caught in TV's glare amid hail of criticism - The Times
Jeered, scorned and ridiculed - still BNP's Nick Griffin milks his moment in the spotlight in Question Time - Daily Mail

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::karinuslai:: said...

hmmm, am downloading both panorama and question time at the moment. will take awhile but will be able to get a measure of it soon enough...

drcrab said...

hey... you should have finished Panorama - I was hopping mad when I finished watching it.

I think I've only ever encountered a couple of episodes of 'mild discrimination' in the UK - where someone at a busstop whom I didn't know said 'chinese/chink' - and I looked at him and said 'white'. I think he was rather flabbagasted that I replied to him.

the other time was when I attended a 'well-meaning' effort by the council here to promote 'racial understanding'. So the equal opp person in the council decided to organise a gathering for the chinese people to meet with the council....... on the Eve of CNY! can you believe it? It's like getting a bunch of Europeans to a meeting on Christmas Eve or New Year's eve. I pointed that out to them... and they tried to argue it away but quickly realised that it was ridiculous.

It is quite unfortunate though that a minority (significant minority though) can cause so much distress.

SheR. said...

Hi CK.
Hope you are doing fine and well in London.

Yes, racial discrimination is pretty rampant in UK but I reckon it's more targetted at the Pakistanis (the Indian race) and Blacks (being the inability to differentiate those from African continent and West Indies).

I have mates from Singapore who felt extremely uncomfortable when we mingle with other races in UK. They felt uneasy being the minority. So I guess it's more in the mind than the actual act?

Take care. The weather's getting chilly over there now.

Lady Banana said...

I watched Panorama with great difficulty - it brought tears to my eyes that such nasty spiteful people could exist.. Those kids horrified me, what on earth will they grow up to be - probably inmates in a local prison.

I also watched QT, it just confirmed to me what a greasy little creepy piece of work that Mr Griffin is.

Yes, there are concerns that this little country is getting overcrowded but his way of dealing with it and his beliefs are a disgrace.

C K said...

Have you managed to look at it yet? I thought that Griffin appeared to be the victim here. It was quite clear that everyone has got an axe to grind with him and were prepared to take him on.

Is the program posted on YouTube?

The thing is that I don't even know the meaning of 'Chink' or 'Paki' for that matter before I arrived in London. Curious how simple words like that can cause so much distress. But your retort was unexpected really. lol!

As for the gathering during CNY eve, I guess that didn't materialise then?

Actually, I feel that London is actually much tolerable to minorities as compared to a number of cities that I have been to. I guess no one would like it if their home is flooded with foreigners over a short period of time.

Now I know how the PRCs in Singapore feel.

Hey you! How's the balmy weather back home? I'm still very much alive and kicking over here despite the chilly weather of late. :)

I would probably agree with you about the common targets for racism. With regards to your S'porean mates in the UK, are they uncomfortable mingling with the others because they're in the minority? Hmm... why is that so?

I am in the opinion that racial discrimination exists everywhere, it's just how one deals with it. Mere mutterings under the breath, outright verbal abuse or resorting to violence are really just different responses to the same issue.

What is disturbing is that some of the perpertrators in Panorama are young kids. That makes you wonder where they learnt that from.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the entire article, except the bit about how the people organising the gathering on CNY eve were racist, or that the incident had anything to do with race. They were simply unaware of CNY. Do you know the festival days/customs of every single culture on Earth?

C K said...

Erm, I'm not sure which part of the post you are referring to. Could you clarify? Cheers.