What does British wealth fund manager Anton Casey, PRC NUS student Sun Xun and Filipino Ello Ed have in common?

They mocked Singapore/Singaporeans, and got punished for it – losing their jobs in one case, and even going to jail in another.

And we just added Australian-Vietnamese Sonny Truyen to the list. The Singapore Internet Keyboard Warrior Association (SIKWA) has claimed yet another victim.

As you might already know, Sonny made some not-so-nice remarks about Singapore and Singaporeans over the weekend, which were triggered by how the mobile game Pokemon Go isn’t available in Singapore. Sonny’s comments sparked a huge reaction on the internet. His employer, property search portal 99.co, swiftly sacked him. You can read more about it here.

There is no doubt that Sonny made stupid comments. And there is no doubt that he should be rebuked for those stupid comments.

But there’s also the issue of proportionality. Do we really have to use punitive measures on people who make somewhat offensive remarks, and to what end? (And honestly speaking, his comments were quite mild. Offensive yes, but in a 10 yo kid childish kind of way.)

I think we should disagree strongly and passionately, and call out such people for making irresponsible remarks. We should have an open, rational conversation, and base our arguments on facts and logic. By all means, take him on in a civilised manner.

But sadly, most Singaporeans commenting online were in witch-hunt mode, and were just baying for blood. Some went to CSI him, others attacked him personally – using colourful terms that are in many ways more offensive than the original phrases used by Sonny – and the rest hounded and threatened Sonny’s employer to take action or else.

Many even called for state intervention, asking that Sonny be charged for sedition.


But isn’t it ironic that many of those who reacted strongly to this incident are also the ones complaining about the government’s seemingly tightening of controls over the freedom of express in recent months? Quite tragic isn’t it, that the PAP has become so successful that it has even managed to mould its detractors in its image.

Talk about cultural hegemony.

“Cultural hegemony is the domination of a culturally diverse society, by the ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society so that their imposed, ruling class worldview becomes the accepted cultural norm.” – Wikipedia

Be careful when you advocate for more state intervention. Today it might be someone else, but come tomorrow, it might be your turn.

And think about the kind of society you want to create and live in before you decide to go on a witch hunt.

Food for thought, my friends. Merely exploring, and not asserting.