Do I find it racist? Yes, possibly. Do I think he realised he was being racist? Probably not. Racism is so ingrained in Singapore society, people don't even realise they are being racist sometimes. Even before the influx of foreigners, Singaporeans have always been cautioned to walk the straight and narrow on the topic of race since we started school. We are told to keep the topic of race from polite public conversations. Somehow this lack of freedom to talk about race openly have made us obsessed with it. Just look at our local stand up comedians, take a sampling, most of the jokes are about race. In fact, many Singaporeans enjoy these racist jokes. Ever went to a Kumar show? However, being able to enjoy a good joke rarely mean that we can tell one in a tasteful or funny way. We enjoy them but often do not have the skills to add humour to a topic which have been repeatedly drilled into the public mind that it is not PC to mention. Now we have the PRC, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Burmese to add into the mix. Singaporeans can now pretend (or at least put aside difference for a while) we are united as one amongst Chinese, Malay and Indian in the face of the common enemy, all other foreigners.
Some have said that what Gilbert Goh wrote was just public sentiment of the men on the street. Frankly if you ask me, sentiments on the street are much worse than anything Gilbert Goh wrote. The mob has been activated though and Gilbert Goh's name has been scandalised because of his article and bringing along Hong Lim Park Protest in the tarnished reputation. What an untimely scandal to break. In a bid to rescue the event, many speakers have repeatedly spoken out that is event is not xenophobic in nature and the protest is not against foreigners. Even then, out ingrained racism reared it's ugly head.
In a brilliant face palm moment, the emcee of the event tried to dispel notions that the event is xenophobic by making it much worse. He said he had many Malay friends when he was young and he EVEN had an Indian friend as if the very idea of a Chinese having an Indian as a friend is so unthinkable. Personally, I found this statement so much more racist than anything Gilbert Goh wrote in that article. And remember, this emcee said this in an attempt to distance himself and the event from Gilbert Goh's scandal that broke and dragged the event through the mud with it. It just goes to show how much more education is needed on the topic of racism in Singapore is when people say such thing in an effort to prove that they are not racist.
So no, I don't think that the article Gilbert Goh wrote came from a place of hatred towards foreigners. It is stereotyping, bad stereotyping at that if you've read the article but that is not xenophobia. In a tongue- in-cheeks way that many have come to embraced, Singaporeans are typically described/stereotyped as Kiasu, Kiasi & materialistic as well. We are fine with it and I have heard people refer to this stereotype about Singaporeans rather endearingly. It seemed Gilbert's article was trying to do they same to some of our larger groups of foreigners. In fact maybe we can go as far to say he was trying to sooth feelings towards foreigners with his attempt at humour. Due to his writing style, or lack thereof, we don't really know what he's trying to convey. I think he's trying for humour and not hatred but who can tell.
To me, the biggest faux pas in this incident is that the organiser of such a prominent and possibly landmark event does not have they ability to convey his thoughts clearly. Now that is sad and embarrassing.