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The right type of Darkie

The race to replace Mr. Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been narrowed down to two and in September, the UK will either have its third woman or its first “non-white” Prime Minister.”

What makes this fact, so intriguing is the fact that both Mr. Sunak and Ms. Truss are members of the “Conservative” party, which has, for most of its history been about the supremacy of the white male in the UK. So, how is it such that a party which has traditionally been the bastion of white male supremacy thrown up so many women and minority candidates for the top job?

The struggle to answer this question has gotten many people wringing their hands. I just saw an article in the Malay Mail, which talked about the leadership lessons that Singapore can learn. After all, despite being actively “non-racist” and “meritocratic” for the last 55-years, Singapore still makes a point that “Singapore is not ready for a Non-Chinese Prime Minister,” and all our leaders have inevitably been men from the majority community. The article can be found at: [LINK]

Having lived in the UK as an ethnic minority for the better part of my formative years and having listened to rhetoric about how we are not ready for a “non-Chinese” Prime Minister, I would like to see Mr. Sunak win. I admit I have a soft spot for the Indian community that came from Africa and ended up in the UK. These are the guys who worked hard and sent their kids to school and don’t go on welfare and complain that people that people are stealing their jobs. So, to have a member of this community take the top job would be a wonderful celebration of the hard work they put it to make the UK function. Plus, I don’t think a man of Mr. N Narayana Murthy would allow his daughter near Mr. Sunak unless he felt there was something special about him. Then, there is the point that if the UK can elect an ethnic minority to the top job, there’s no reason why Singapore can’t.

However, whilst its good to see so many candidates from “non-traditional” backgrounds going for the top job, the question remains how “non-traditional” are Mr. Sunak and Ms. Truss really. If you look at the background of Ms. Truss and Mr. Sunak, you will find that their gender and race are pretty much irrelevant in as much as both have very standard backgrounds for Conservative politicians. Both went to Oxford, and both worked in huge companies before joining politics. The only thing that really distinguishes Ms. Truss from the standard Conservative party politician lies between her legs.

As for Mr. Sunak, he’s as “Elite British” as it gets. He was born in Southampton, went to Winchester (the oldest public school in the UK and a competitor of Eaton, the alma mater of Prince William and David Cameron) and then Oxford. The only thing that’s “exotic” about Mr. Sunak is the fact that his name is “Sunak” and he’s a shade tanner than the average Conservative politician. The only thing about him that is “actually” Indian is his wife and her family.

I hope Mr. Sunak takes the job because it would be a good boost for one of the most productive communities in the UK. However, whilst people of Indian origin will celebrate any success of his, Mr. Sunak is not an ethnic minority who made it but the exception that proves the rule. Let’s be honest, he’s where he is because he’s at the top of the system rather than an outsider on the fringes.

The truth remains that ethnic minorities still need to work harder to get to the same place as members of the ethnic majority. In many ways, an ethnic minority has to be smarter and better educated than their counterparts in the ethnic majority and you have to blend into the majority in a way where your pigmentation becomes secondary.

Let us go across the Atlantic, where everyone talked about Barak Obama as the “first black president.” While Mr. Obama was undoubtedly a shade darker than many Americans, that was probably the “blackest” thing about Mr. Obama. His mother was “white” as were the grandparents who raised him. The man went to Columbia and Harvard. His life experiences are as far away from the experiences of the chaps who grew up in Harlem as it gets. [LINK]

Mr. Obama like Mr. Sunak is a “darkie” but the right type of darkie as far as “white society” is concerned – hence perfectly electable. They are the type of “darkie” that most white liberals are comfortable with – a shade dark enough to be different but actual fact the same.

Singapore is not immune to this. I think of the number of Tamils who speak better Hokkien than Tamil because they have to become part of the mainstream in Singapore. If you listen closely enough to the coffee shop chatter on our Tamil politicians, you’ll note that there’s always an appreciation for one that marries a Chinese girl. The common remark being “Ah, their thinking is different.”

So, just as America had a black president who had to be whiter than white and the UK may have an Indian Origin Prime Minister who is as elite British as it gets, Singapore will one day have an ethnic minority Prime Minister who is more Chinese than Chinese.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

11 Responses to “The right type of Darkie”

  • xoxo:

    So,are we a democracy that practices real meritocracy that is not racist?
    The PAP MEMBERS know the answer.
    They never had a non-chinese SEC GEN?
    WHY?
    Is Tharman or Shanmugam ill-qualified compared to LW OR OYK OR KEE CHIU?

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  • KNN - Ai Hum Lah:

    Non-Chinese son-in-law also cannot.

    xoxo:

    Is Tharman or Shanmugam ill-qualified compared to LW OR OYK OR KEE CHIU?

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  • panyusg:

    Who is better paid…Prime Minister or President? And which job is much less stressful? Which job is multi-ethnic?

    Spore is a very small nation, surrounded by neighbors where history has shown that there is a need to look far ahead and also far beyond the shores of Singapore.

    Spore cannot take too much risk for the sake of diversity when it comes to choosing the leader of the ruling party or even to choose an alternative party.

    The survival of Singapore cannot be taken for granted. No government can be perfect and no Prime Minister is all-wise either.

    Spore walks a fine line. The Presidency, by Constitution, is multi-ethnic. The political leadership cannot be dictated by the Constitution in terms of ethnicity.

    I will not use UK and USA as examples that Spore should follow. They dynamics are vastly different.

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  • Best person:

    Hope Singapore will select the best person for the top job including the President based on ability and capability.
    Race and gender should not be a criteria.

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  • Real democracy:

    If Sunak fails in his attempt to be PM in UK, he can have a second try in Singapore. Not only the Indians would be supporting him, the non Indians in the likes of Tang Li would be rooting for him too.

    He would have to do another Sunak act to aim for the premiership. It would be much, much easier to do it in Singapore as the groundwork has already been prepared for an Indian PM.

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  • A Minority PM ?:

    What does a member of the minority knows about the culture, language, traditions, habits etc of the majority ? How can he understand them better ?

    If you only choose the best person to be a leader, then why doesn’t India recruit a Chinese to be leader, Chine recruit an African to be its leader, Japan recruits a Malay to be its leader etc..

    WHY NOT ??

    Mr Sunak is very rich and is a Hindu. Does he really understand the British white people culture etc ? Why is he against the Chinese ? Is it becos he is Indian ?

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  • PAP mandate strong:
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  • AristoCATS - Cast yr Vote:

    The ideals sound enticing. . .

    Nope! Non-White won’t be elected PM !
    -
    Since, we won’t be voting,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    place your bet !

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  • Western Sheep:

    You answered your own question. He doesn’t need to understand anything except to be a western attack puppy with a sheep brain. CIA and MI6 will be his biggest supporters.

    A Minority PM ?:
    What does a member of the minority knows about the culture, language, traditions, habits etc of the majority ? How can he understand them better ?

    If you only choose the best person to be a leader, then why doesn’t India recruit a Chinese to be leader, Chine recruit an African to be its leader, Japan recruits a Malay to be its leader etc..

    WHY NOT ??

    Mr Sunak is very rich and is a Hindu. Does he really understand the British white people culture etc ? Why is he against the Chinese ? Is it becos he is Indian ?

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    真是個 大中華膠!

    https://3g.163.com/dy/article/HD9EHR9O0552O6NO.html?spss=adap_pc
    四川36歲警持槍行兇致3死2傷 

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    Tangfastic…you mean “Darlie” superseding “Darkie” toothpaste???

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