Number of neighbour disputes hit high (aka the “CurryGate” incident)

Askmelah’s Note: The following case studies esp case number one is simply adsurb. There is a Chinese saying “follow the local customs when you are in one(入乡随俗)”, I am simply appalled by the insensitivity of this new immigrant family from China.

Source: Todayonline 8 Aug 11

Case 1: A family, who had just moved here from China, had resorted to mediation because they could not stand the smell of curry that their Singaporean Indian neighbours would often cook. The Indian family, who were mindful of their neighbour’s aversion, had already taken to closing their doors and windows whenever they cooked the dish, but this was not enough.

“They said: ‘Can you please do something? Can you don’t cook curry? Can you don’t eat curry?’,” said Madam Marcellina Giam, a Community Mediation Centre mediator. But the Indian family stood firm. In the end, Mdm Giam got the Indian family to agree to cook curry only when the Chinese family was not home. In return, they wanted their Chinese neighbours to at least give their dish a try.

Case 2: A 40-year-old sales manager was shocked to find a note posted in one of the lifts of his Telok Blangah block. The anonymous writer had complained that his children were making “ear-piercing screams everyday and making the environment very unconducive for resting”. The writer said the screams were “hurting the ears” of the residents and called on the children’s parents to be “socially responsible”.

The sales manager, who wanted only to be known as Mr Su, said he thought of responding and finding out who the letter writer was. He decided against it eventually. “I don’t know why the writer had to do that, he could have approached me directly,” Mr Su told Today.


Here is an excellent follow-up article from Facebook:

Cook a Pot of CURRY ” – to celebrate Curries as part of our way of life – and to share this celebration with those who are new to our shores!

News : PRC “People’s Republic of China” mainland Chinese ( new citizen family ) asks a local Indian family not to eat curry or cook curry
As of recent, in the news, a report came about that a PRC family told our local Indian family “not to eat curry” and not to cook curry. This came about becos online website Temasek Review wrote about this case. .

To make things worse, the govt appointed “mediator” – a certain Madam Giam actually got the Indian family to cook curry ONLY when the PRC family is not at home. ( ie it is a sort of * binding settlement or agreement)​ /Singapore/EDC110808-00001​02/Number-of-neighbour-dis​ putes-hit-high ( this is the link)

I am disturbed when I read of this. How can a govt appointed mediator side with a so-called ” new citizen ” against our local Indian family? Or any other local family who practices a cultural lifestyle that we have all made our own? In this case, Curry has always been part of our culture since the 1800s. It can be anything else that you or I hold dear.

There is a native Malay saying: please allow me to quote Mr Zubir Said ( the composer of our National Anthem). Zubir cited the Malay proverb “Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung” (“You should hold up the sky of the land where you live”)

They ( the new citizens – or any new resident) who come to our country and, unfortunately, there are those who instead of assimilating / integrating into our social fabric and culture, they “demand” we speak their language and conform to their likes and dislikes. ( isn’t it so?). Don’t tell me no. I had experienced this over the years. They speak Mandarin to our Malays/ Indians and Eurasian and Chinese (ok, not all Chinese here are fluent in Mandarin for many reasons) counterparts. You have to understand not everyone here speaks Mandarin. This is not China or a Chinese province.

This is Singapore and we are part of Malayan culture. Our hinterland previously was not China, it was Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago. Our ancestors came and met and mingled and through an adventurous and open mindset, created something unique and beautiful… ( thus our local culture as such- curries/ spices/ a vast melting pot of people and mixed heritages)

You come and live in my country, it is not unreasonable to ask of you to integrate into our local culture and making attempts to assimilate and tolerate the various multi-ethnic cultures we had built up so painstakingly over the decades? Because at the same time, we are definitely open to taking the best that you have to offer, and to create new and beautiful Singaporean things.

*We Singaporeans are basically nice and tolerant people. We will accept the new citizens as citizens PROVIDED they integrate into our local culture and not the other way round ( ie we conform to them).

Thus, I hope that every Singapore Citizen/ or true-blue natives and even Friends of Singapore can COOK a pot of curry all over the island on this date (21st Aug 2011- Sunday) and let the aromas of CURRIES permeate and waft through the whole nation!:)

(If you are overseas and cannot cook – can support us in spirit by clicking ‘Attending’ too lah!)

We are mainly upset with the “Community Mediation Centre’s” action of actually allowing such a mediation agreement to be legally binding. It is the right of the Indian family to cook curry at whichever time they wish to. It is a basic human right to cook curry or whatever dish that is important to them, in their own home.

Every Singaporean should just cook a pot of curry and eat it ( regardless of race / language/ or religion). We are Singaporeans and we LOVE our curries – be it chicken curry/ fish curry/ lamb curry/ beef curry/ beef rendang/ lontong/ mee siam/ laksa/ Petai sambal belachan / ayam buah keluak etc

Thank You Very Much for supporting “Cook A Pot of Curry” Event!


Indian new citizen Mayank Agarwal clarifies: He is only taking a ‘jibe’ at CMC

extracted from Temasekreview

Agarwal on ‘currygate’ on the Facebook of a friend:

Some netizens noted a tone of sarcasm in his comments and pointed out that he may be ‘trolling’. In response to queries from Temasek Review Emeritus (TRE), Mr Mayank Agarwal wrote:

“Of course not man. It’s a sarcastic retort to their recent decision on the curry issue. The point being that we have to live with and accommodate each other’s culture and heritage. ESPECIALLY so when we move to another country. [Askmelah’s note: well said Mayank!!!]


In other countries, immigrants are expected to integrate into the local society, but in Singapore, it is Singaporeans who are implored time and again by the PAP regime to bend over to accomodate the newcomers.

Despite spluring $10 million dollars of taxpayers’ monies on a ‘Community Integration Fund’ last year to make the foreigners feel happy, accepted and welcomed in Singapore, social tension between Singaporeans and foreigners continue to rise due to the lack of a well-thought immigration policy to integrate the newcomers while addressing the concerns of locals at the same time.

Too many foreigners are brought into Singapore within too short a period of time such that they prefer to congregate within their own communities instead of reaching out to native Singaporeans and assimilate into Singapore society.


Sunday’s curry unity targets intolerance, not foreigners

Source: The Sunday Times   Aug 20, 2011

IT IS not insignificant that within a few days, more than 55,000 Singaporean residents of all races have pledged online to cook curry tomorrow to affirm the Singapore way of life (‘Okay to affirm Singaporean way but don’t be anti-foreigner’; Wednesday).

It is useful for us to ask what prompted this.

Mediation, I agree with Law Minister K. Shanmugam, is a process predicated on the parties’ willingness to seek settlement and abide by the agreement. This does not mean, however, that the mediator is without power or influence. The parties vest a measure of authority on the mediator. With this power to influence comes the responsibility to ensure that any settlement, whether initiated by the parties or not, does not end up being unfair to one party. The parties must be able to live with the settlement without feeling cheated.

In community-based mediation especially, a settlement where one party feels it agreed to it under duress can be counter-productive in sustaining harmony, and building trust.

What we should be even more concerned about is the negative signal this incident could send out.

It threatens to strike at the values upon which our society is built – tolerance and acceptance.

All of us who grew up in Singapore would have had occasion to be confronted with a cultural or religious practice that was not palatable.

Our evolved instinct would have been to respect the right of the other party as a cohabitant of our space, and so tolerate, if not accept it.

Unless, of course, that practice wantonly intrudes into our space or impinges on our rights. This has become the Singapore way of life. Anyone who lives in this space, or chooses to live here, would be expected to embrace these values.

So, yes, in the past few days, there have been emotional reactions against foreigners who are reluctant to accept and adopt our way of life, but I see it more as a unified stand against legitimisation of intolerance.

It is not directed at foreigners per se, but at anyone – even a Singaporean – who is misguided. So, let’s not miss the wood for the trees. This is not xenophobia, and it certainly is not about a nation’s love of curry.

Viswa Sadasivan

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