Monday, November 22, 2004

Pranay Gupte leaves The Straits Times 

Pranay Gupte has left The Straits Times. His description of the circumstances surrounding his departure can be found here (link obtained through mr brown). Do bear in mind that it is just one side of the story.

Having said that, I’m not surprised at his description of the journalistic credentials — or lack of it — of some of the editorial staff in The Straits Times. Quite apart from the political angle, Singapore does not have a culture of respect for professionalism and specialisation commensurate with the supposed sophistication of its economy. The government’s style of selecting scholars, putting them on fast-track careers in the civil service and then seconding them out to the commercial world reflects that mentality.

As for his comment on racism in Singapore, I’d be very surprised if there were none in the country. Every country has its share of racists. But as a foreigner of Indian descent, it is possible that he might simply have been the victim of a broader form of Singaporean arrogance toward foreigners originating from less-developed countries. After all, many ethnic Chinese Singaporeans extend their condescension to Chinese nationals as well.

Anyway, Pranay Gupte’s articles for The Straits Times have often been very interesting and I think his departure is a loss for the newspaper.


I think the racism becomes more obvious when you realise that Mr Gupte is an American citizen. He does not come from a less developed country. He left a more developed country with career experience from the New York Times and a paper of his own to work here in Singapore.

It is plainly racism when the recruiter told him that nationality is irrelevant, that he simply would be paid less than an ang moh of less experience and same job position simply because he is Indian.

So much for LKY's quote in the ST that "we build Singapore based on meritocracy, fair to all, 'regardless of race, language or religion'."

Actually, I think a more critical approach would be this. Let's not presume racism does not exist in Singapore. People should have a belief that racist attitudes and practices would surface. The question would be what forms of actions could be taken to subdue them. Perhaps in a private firm or workplace, you could undertake legal action, but in a government-controlled workplace, such hope for compensation is much less dim. It can't afford the pressure and hypocrisy.

Pranay Gupte is an American national. He was also born in India.

I think in racism, sometimes the perception overrides the fact.


Correction to the above comment, which should read:

Pranay Gupte is an American national. He was also born in India.

I think in social interaction, sometimes the perception overrides the fact.


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