Wednesday, 16 Jun 2021

Man who posted video on racist encounter aims to raise awareness of racism in Singapore

SINGAPORE – When Mr Dave Parkash uploaded a video on Facebook of a Chinese man making racist remarks to him and his girlfriend, he felt compelled to raise awareness that such racism still continues to exist in Singapore, though he had not expected the video to go viral.

Since the video was posted on Sunday morning (June 6), it has garnered more than 16,000 shares, with various MPs condemning the Chinese man, who accused Mr Parkash of “preying on a Chinese girl”, among other disparaging comments.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday, Mr Parkash, 26, said that he was shocked by the encounter, but heartened by the overwhelming support from netizens, noting that a few of them have lodged police reports on the couple’s behalf.

The police said on Sunday that a 60-year-old man is currently assisting with investigations.

The man is believed to be a polytechnic lecturer.

Mr Parkash was with his girlfriend, Ms Jacqueline Ho, 27, on Saturday (June 5) night in Orchard Road when they were approached by a Chinese man, who said that it was a disgrace for a Chinese girl and an Indian man to be together.

Shocked at the remark, he confronted the man, while his girlfriend began recording the nine-minute long video.

Mr Parkash said that by posting the video online, he hoped that people will know it is “not okay to shame others based on their race and skin colour”.

“We’re in a modern world where things are changing and people should be given equal chances,” said Mr Parkash, who owns an ice-cream shop.

“We shouldn’t normalise (such racism) and sweep it under the rug, but instead be brave and stand up against it,” he added.

Mr Parkash said it was not the first time that he had experienced racism when he was out with Ms Ho, although this latest incident was particularly humiliating.

Mr Dave Parkash and Ms Jacqueline Ho have been in a relationship for seven years. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM DAVE PARK ASH/FACEBOOK

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Throughout their seven-year relationship, there have been instances where people would look disapprovingly at them, said Mr Parkash, who regarded this as “subtle racism”.

He is of Indian and Filipino parentage, while his girlfriend, Ms Ho, a UX (user experience) designer, is half-Thai and half-Singaporean Chinese.

“It used to make us really uncomfortable, but over the years, we’ve learnt that we really are not doing anything wrong, and shouldn’t let this bother us,” he added.

Mr Parkash said that their parents had always been supportive of their relationship and were shocked to learn about the encounter.

However, they were glad that he had stood his ground throughout the confrontation, and that the stigma towards interracial relationships can now be discussed in the public sphere since the video has gone viral, he added.

Some Facebook users, however, had pointed out that Mr Parkash was quick to distinguish himself as “half-Indian” , which could be seen as insensitive to the Indian community.

Responding to these remarks, Mr Parkash admitted that his comments might have come across as insensitive as they were uttered in the heat of the moment, but he had not meant any offence.

He added that as someone of mixed race, it is sometimes difficult for him to fully identify with either race.

Through this entire incident, however, he hopes that more thought can be put into what it means to be Singaporean.

“We must really educate people that there isn’t a superior race, so we shouldn’t look at ourselves and degrade other races, after all, we’re a multicultural society,” he said.

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