The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, December 11, 2009

Singapore's scientific racism.

There are many ways to be racist. Singapore likes to explore such possibilities, unconsciously, in the choices it makes and in the projects it deems worthy of pursuing. It is clear, though, that Singaporeans are unaware of the racism that they are steeped in, so deeply are they so steeped.

A recent example of Singapore's racism is a project to map the genome of the Han or Southern Chinese. This was backed by the Genome Institute of Singapore, the GIS. Apparently, they saw fit to draw on the genomes of 8,200 Han Chinese people from all over Singapore and China.

Please mull over the implications of such a project, in "multicultural", "multiracial", "integrated" and "harmonious" Singapore. A Singaporean state-funded institution, the Genome Institute of Singapore, sees fit to pour money into a project aimed at uncovering the secrets of the Han Chinese genome to ultimately help this racial grouping with various genetically linked diseases. I wonder if one of those "diseases" could be racism itself? You see, this project has rather overlooked the Malay and Indian populations in Singapore - not forgetting the Eurasians, Caucasians, and "others". What about these races? Don't they have diseases to worry about too? Oops, I forgot: in Singapore only the Han Chinese really matter. They are, after all almost 80% of the population. They do, after all, own almost everything. They have, after all, allotted almost all the best jobs to themselves. So, it should be no surprise that government money should be devoted to uncovering the secrets of their genome, so that they might be rescued from such earth shattering, mindbogglingly important conditions as "lactose intolerance" (Yes, the researchers actually used that example to justify the enterprise). Other susceptibilities apparently include diabetes and nasopharyngeal cancer. (No investigation, however, is being done into the causes of relative poverty among Singapore's that genetic...or perhaps social?)

Worryingly, Associate Professor Liu Jianjun, who headed up this rather odious project, went to the trouble to point out that the results could be used to determine a person's racial origin. He was quoted as saying: "We can determine whether an anonymous Singaporean is a Chinese, his ancestral origin, and sometimes, which dialect group of the Han Chinese he belongs to." Now, excuse me for asking - but why is it so important to know that? Why would so much money be wasted, (sorry "invested") just to be able to prove that someone is, or is not, an authentic "Han Chinese". This smacks of Hitler's Aryan race dogma - and his obsession with "pure" Aryans. The abhorrent stench of a profound, unconscious racism rises from every base pair of the enterprise.

I am struck by the sharp contrast between Singapore's understanding of the possibilities of modern genetics, and the West's understanding. In the West, they had something called the Human Genome Project, to determine the genetic map of a HUMAN. In Singapore, they don't care about humans, at all...they just care about Han Chinese. Thus, Singapore has reinvented the project as the Han Chinese Genome Project - because, after all, no-one else matters, do they?

Now, if Singapore was really, really interested in Singaporeans, the project would have comprised not 8,200 Han Chinese, but perhaps 2,733 Han Chinese, 2,733 Malays, and 2,733 Indians. Then one would have had results of benefit to almost all Singaporeans. However, Singapore has never been about has only ever been about the Han Chinese. Were this not so, I would not have had to write this post, because the Han Chinese Genome Project (or whatever they have actually called it) would have been, instead, the Singaporean Genome Project. I could understand a project that focussed on all racial groupings in Singapore - but not one that focussed exclusively on the dominant race. That is a very sharp insult to all members of the minority races in Singapore. It says, most clearly, that "your diseases are not important to us".

Singapore has certain merits. However, fairness between the races is not one of its more evident ones. There are an infinity of examples of instances in which unfairness towards one race or another, can be found. However, what is most interesting, is that that unfairness is never towards the Han Chinese. This study of the Han Chinese is unfair to every member of every minor race in Singapore. It shows, more clearly than anything else the state could have done, that the minor races are, quite literally, of minor concern to the dominant race - and rulers of Singapore.

It is interesting the way science becomes perverted by the local racial-political agenda. When handling human genetics, the West focusses its attention on the nature of the Human and the species as a whole. In Singapore's hands, however, genetics become a tool to further an unconscious - or perhaps even conscious - racist agenda. Just imagine if the tools of genetic mapping had been available to Hitler and ask yourself what would Hitler have done? He would, rather disturbingly, have used them in the same way that Singapore is doing: he would have used it, first, to prove that the Aryans were a separate race and how to identify them. He then would have taken the next step of mapping Jews, so that he could identify - and eliminate them.

Singapore has taken the analogous first step. It has developed the capability of identifying "true" Han Chinese. The next step would be to be able to identify "true" examples of Singapore's minorities and so classify them as "non-Chinese". At this point, I shall halt my train of thought and writing, for I don't know what Singapore would do with such information, were it readily available. A clue lies, perhaps, in the immigration policies of the country: the vast majority of newcomers are PRCs/Han Chinese. This seems to show that a nation consisting entirely of Han Chinese would be seen as desirable. Perhaps gene mapping tools might one day be used to further that end and ensure the great, grand Singaporean future of a monoracial, Han Chinese, island and effective southern most offshoot of the Great Motherland - or is that Fatherland?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:32 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do have a project and paper published on the 3 main ethnic groups in Singapore and this is comparable to the Hapmap project. Unfortunately the media chose not to highlight it.

I think the chinese study is more of a collaborative effort with chinese counterparts.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am not surprised that the media chose not to highlight the study you point to. Firstly, it is a very small study: the number of participants is minuscule compared to the Han Chinese study - only 99 Chinese, 98 Malays and 95 Indians.

Then again, the media in Singapore only highlights that which it considers important - and living in Singapore for over 8 years told me that the mainstream media in Singapore considers one race vastly more important than any other: guess which one. So, of course, they highlighted the large scale Han Chinese study.

For me, the most worrying aspect of the larger study is not just its focus on one race - but that the leader of the project would specifically highlight that it can be used to identify someone's true racial origin: are they really Han Chinese? The very question and interest are suspect, from a humanist point of view (ie. one that considers HUMANS, rather than individual races).

Thanks for your tip.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Valentine,

The study seems to be less nefarious than you claim.


10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But i think there is always a debate on this. There are a lot of papers that actually point out about how genetics can be used to pinpoint ancestry. IT is always up to the reader to discern right or wrong: I would think they have more scientific significance in terms of pharmacogenetics and disease orientation than mere societal significance.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The debate will always rage on and it always depends on the reader to discern. If you put away that bias you have, and re-read that sentence, it is just merely an exultation. I would rather acknowledge it as having more scientific significance in pharmacogenetics and disease orientation than just racial bias. It would be too myopic on the reader's part to just stop at saying that such a statement is wrong and dismiss any more significant implications.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

I don't understand what the fuss is about.

This was a collaboration with scientists from China who obviously collected data from the Chinese population in China. What did you expect? Do you really expect them to do a study on Indian population genetics?

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is why Singaporean is sheep that only follow what Old man says. When old man says China is the key to the future, everything in Singapore including ShittyTimes will tune to China. It is what you say about having political agenda and not of genuine contribution to the world.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said... Less nefarious. A question: why have you produced a link to a different study? Your point is completely irrelevant.

The Han Chinese study is referenced here on Asiaone:

It is purely a Han Chinese study...and it is a much larger effort than anything anyone has so far raised here.

The work you have provided a link to, concerns a study of 2,000 people. The Han Chinese study is of 8,200 people. They are different matters.

However, the nefariousness of the situation has actually been INCREASED by your information. You see, why hasn't the Singaporean media made any mention of this other study - while covering the Han Chinese study prominently? Again, this reflects the local biases which are usually evident in the mainstream media.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. societal significance. It is significant that the head of the project would go to the trouble of mentioning that it could be used to identify whether someone was actually Han Chinese. That is not really a scientific interest, but a racial-political one, in my view.

When I talk to someone, I don't think: "This is a member of race X"...I think, "this is an interesting PERSON/HUMAN"!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Nefarious.

You have overlooked a major point of difference between the two studies. The study you point to is NOT Singapore's idea and not something they are playing a leaading role in. They have simply been asked to tag along with the Human Genome Organization's effort (HUGO). It an initiative by an external international body - not one in which Singapore plays an important role. That differs considerably to the GIS study, in which Assoc Prof. Liu is heading up the work. So, you should see the situation clearly: when the study has an international, global origin their interest is either for humanity as a whole, or in this case, PAN-ASIAN...but when Singapore is a driving force behind it, the interest becomes purely one of regard for the Han Chinese. Again, your information only heightens the impression of nefariousness by giving us a contrast between how an international organization handles the Asian situation and how Singapore handles it.

By the way, the Singaporean study has many more samples (8,200) than the HUGO study...

9:28 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. bias.

I am not the one with bias. Singapore's establishment, however, has plenty of that. Just ask any member of a minority who has lived there for a few years.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. what's the fuss, Fox.

You have missed the point. According to the Asiaone article, Singapore LED the effort. It was Singapore's call. Yes, they chose to collaborate with the Chinese...but you know what, they could also have collaborated with the Indians and the Malays: they could have sampled Singapore's Indians and Malays and also enlisted the help of Delhi and Kuala Lumpur etc. It would not have been difficult and would have given much more comprehensive information re. Singaporeans. Unless, of course, one is only interested in the Han Chinese...then, inevitably, they would do what they did - work with the Chinese and ignore the racial mix of Singapore.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

re. data collection.

Actually, Fox, Singaporeans were sampled, as well as mainland Chinese. The interest was in where did Singapore's Chinese gene pool come from - and what the nature of the Han Chinese is.

How would you feel had their been a study conducted that focussed entirely on Malays, sampled from Singapore's Malay population, and the Malays in Malaysia, was advertised as to be used to help with diseases for the Malays - and which completely ignored the Chinese, in Singapore? Perhaps then you would realize the inherent unfairness and bias of this situation.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Sheep and the "Shitty" Times.

I am glad someone also sees the extraordinary Singaporean focus on China. It is pretty disturbing to what extent S'pore will go to to sidle up to its "mummy".

9:43 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

"How would you feel had their been a study conducted that focussed entirely on Malays, sampled from Singapore's Malay population, and the Malays in Malaysia, was advertised as to be used to help with diseases for the Malays - and which completely ignored the Chinese, in Singapore? Perhaps then you would realize the inherent unfairness and bias of this situation."

As a Chinese Singaporean, I don't think that there would be anything wrong with a study on the genetics of Malays if it were advertised to study hereditary diseases peculiar to Malays.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

"Actually, Fox, Singaporeans were sampled, as well as mainland Chinese. The interest was in where did Singapore's Chinese gene pool come from - and what the nature of the Han Chinese is."

Most of the 8200 samples were from China. Singapore contributed 570 samples, of which 200 were used.

Let me give you the introduction to the article that they actually published.


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been widely employed as a tool for dissecting the genetic bases of many complex traits.[1], [2] and [3] Simultaneously, GWAS provide rich data with insights into important aspects of the population structure that arises through drift, selection, and migration both within and among various isolated populations or geographical regions. Dense genome-wide data also enable the detection of distant ancestry among individuals by examination of genetic distances, homozygosity, and genome-wide patterns of linkage disequilibrium.4 E. Jakkula, K. Rehnström, T. Varilo, O.P. Pietiläinen, T. Paunio, N.L. Pedersen, U. deFaire, M.R. Järvelin, Saharinen and L. Peltonen et al., The genome-wide patterns of variation expose significant substructure in a founder population, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 83 (2008), pp. 787–794. Article | PDF (595 K) | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (5)[4] and [5] Population structure, and unusual levels of shared ancestry, can potentially cause spurious associations. Therefore, it is critical to understand the genetic structure of a population, not only for the resulting historical insights, but also for the appropriate design of association studies. Whereas the genetic geography of North America and Europe is well understood, a detailed analysis of the population structure is lacking for China, the most populated country in the world.

The Han Chinese constitute more than 90% of China's population and nearly a fifth of the human species. Although the International HapMap Project has provided a clear window into the variation present in a single representative sample of the Han Chinese in Beijing, there remains a paucity of genome-wide data from elsewhere in China or the significant overseas Chinese communities. Population genetics research in China has centered on minority populations, or has been limited to specialized molecular markers such as microsatellites,6 Y-chromosome polymorphisms,7 and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).[8], [9] and [10] Collectively, these studies support the hypothesis of an initial entry of modern humans into China from southeast Asia, followed by later expansions, chiefly those stemming from the development of agriculture in China's two main centers of domestication (rice in the south and millet in the north).[11] and [12] Su et al., Chu et al., and the many investigations of Cavalli-Sforza et al. (summarized in 13) have observed largely distinct clusters of southern and northern populations in phylogenetic trees of the Han Chinese sampled throughout the country.[6] and [7] Others have found no support for this “north-south” division,14 highlighting the need for denser genomic and geographic sampling of the modern Chinese population, as major initiatives for genome-wide association studies are currently being planned in China. To this end, we used data for more than 350,000 SNPs from more than 6000 Han Chinese samples across ten of China's 23 provinces. We explore Chinese population structure across these geographical locations, and we examine the potential magnitude of Chinese population stratification on GWAS via simulations.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a democratic country, majority always win and rule. As such, the minority will be somehow slightly neglected. It would have been strange when 80% of the chinese is in this country and yet the government will invest the money on the minority in this circumstances.Same goes to Malaysia, it would have been weird if the government invests money on Chinese and not the Malay if the same circumstance occur.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi valentine,
i have a small request . can you please stop posting the small section of info that you doat teh end of each article and instead post it on the about me section at teh side of the page?
that would make reading your articles a helluva lot more easier,

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with Fox though. This is about the Chinese and collaboration with the Chinese. Yes they could have gone out and sampled the Malays and Indians, which was incidentally already done by the same Institute in the cited SGVP and PASNP. That would incur extra cost. If you have read the article on the journal, you would have realised that the study was done on samples that were already studied.

It wouldnt make sense to shun doing research on the Chinese just because there are people who thinks that doing that is biased. Focusing on a subpopulation is never wrong. It just happens that Chinese is the largest race in Singapore. If Chinese is the smallest race in Singapore, would this have incurred your wrath?

So does it also mean that Singapore institutes should always do all studies on all three populations? Since SGVP with 99 Chinese, 98 Malays and 95 Indians already provided such a platform, it would be superfluous to conduct another. A small study doesnt mean it's not important. The reason why the media does not highlight might be no less the fault of the research team than the media; perhaps they did not push it into the limelight themselves.

There is always a certain degree of racism in every single country, since every single country of today is no longer made up of just a single race. Bumiputra policy in Malaysia for one is already a prejudice towards the other races in Malaysia. Then you look at Israel and even the African-Americans in US. Hitler is a passe please... Yes, it's one of the worst holocaust to-date, but please, the Germans faced up to that; so are you going to point out Japan's reluctance to admit to its persecution of other races?

You would have to be glad that Singapore is not a country in strife, instead of stoking up the issue on a publication that, if you have read it, is definitely skewed on the Chinese since a large part of the grants are given by the Chinese government!

And of course you can say what you like on your blog, but your entry is too loop-sided to produce anything more wholesome than an image of dissent and your own single-sided emotions and prejudice. It would have seem more rational to produce something more thought-out.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I understand your point of view, however, in my eyes, the government has a responsibility for all its people - and so should have made just as much effort for its minorities as for its Han Chinese majority. That would be caring for its citizens, properly, whatever their racial origin.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. end of is there for the search engines on each post, because each post is considered independently...therefore your suggestion wouldn't really work for what I need to do. Sorry for the inconvenience.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You accuse me of being lopsided, having emotional bias, prejudice and irrationality – and having written something not thought out. I find it interesting that your own blog comment shows evidence of logical bias and “irrational” prejudice. I shall explain.

You see you state that a larger minority study would be “superfluous” because of the small study done that included minorities. You overlook a contradiction in your own statement. You see if a larger study is superfluous for the minorities, it should be superfluous for the Chinese, too. The fact that it was thought that a second large study on Han Chinese was necessary proves that you are wrong in your contention that the smaller study is sufficient for the minorities. The existence of the larger Han Chinese study is proof that it is not. It would not exist, if the smaller study was good enough for the Chinese – and if it was not good enough for the Chinese it is most certainly not good enough for the Indians and the Malays (since their samples were actually slightly smaller anyway…)

Thus, the bias in your own thought processes is made evident.

Re. limelight. The BBC highlighted the smaller study. The Singaporean media did not. That is most interesting considering that it concerned Singapore!!! Thus, the local media silence could not have the result of the researchers’ shyness before the media – it could only have the result of local tendencies to highlight all matters Chinese and rather ignore matters concerning minorities. At least, that seems the most parsimonious explanation.

Hitler is never passé. The moment people think that Hitler has become “passé” is the moment that the lessons of his genocidal actions are forgotten and become susceptible to repetition. To dismiss a reference to Hitler’s way of looking at the world – which, in this instance, is, in fact, echoed by the Singaporean state, is to risk consequences too horrific to contemplate. No. Hitler cannot be dismissed by any thoughtful person – nor can similarities to his thinking be ignored. Such similarities are a strong signal that something is not right with the outlook of a particular people, state or individual. Those similarities signal that unpleasant consequences could soon follow.

It is interesting that you refer to the studies by acronym. A common man could not do that. One is left to wonder whether you are involved at the Institute in question, therefore…or have any conflict of interest behind your comments?

My identity and origin are clear…yours are not. Your own involvement or lack thereof does have bearing on how your comments should be viewed. It would be interesting to know your background with relation to this topic.

Thanks for your comment.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Fox: re Malay study.

I very much doubt that you would be happy about a large scale Malay genetic study if there were no equivalent large scale Chinese genetic study - for that would mean that the Chinese interests and health concerns would have been sidelined in preference for the Malay interests and health concerns. You would surely feel snubbed and left out - as all Singaporean minorities are by this recent action of the GIS.

None of the arguments in support of the Chinese study seem so far to have come from non-Chinese - and none of them "hold water"...they are all deeply flawed, even contradictory arguments that do not address their own inherent problems.

The fact remains that is unfair to do a large scale comprehensive study on one race, in a multi-racial society.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. should studies always be on all races in Singapore.

Yes. Obviously...and why should that not be so? Singapore is multi-racial, to study one race to the exclusion of the others is to prioritize one race over another. It is racist to do so...though many people would not realize that this is racism. They would just see it as "addressing Chinese interests" or "addressing the needs of the majority". It should be noted that "addressing the needs of the majority" could also be seen as "ignoring the needs of the minority". No society should be doing the latter - especially not a "democratic society", of any kind.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

What I find hilarious about this is that the Chinese commenters here, respond to my pointing out the prejudice of the study, by accusing me of prejudice! This is a typical Singaporean tactic, for those who don't know it. What happens in Singapore is that, whenever a minority speaks or writes of the racism of the majority that that majority, in turn, accuses them of racism for saying so. It is bizarre, since any objective bystander can quite easily see that the minority is innocent of the charge and the majority guilty. At least, that is how it is in Singapore.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous bill said...

2 things to note valentine.

First, you might consider why the study is chosen to be done on Han Chinese only. As someone with an understanding of genetics studies and stats, I would like to point out that by limiting to a specific group, it is easier to come out with a consensus sequence. The HGP as u pointed out analysed the genome of supposedly the human race. However there were many flaws in their conclusion, in areas such as blood group where they are unable to determine which is considered a normal blood group and which is a mutant group. The reason for the studies focus on han chinese could be to reduce this ambiguity. It is apparently obvious that 8000 han chinese are more likely to have a much more common genome than your proposed mix of 2733 from each race. (and if you want to sequence a singaporean genome, shouldnt it be by racial proportion?)

2, while I have great respect for your ideas and writings, one thing i cannot agree with you on is the treatment of different races. While tyranny of majority exists everywhere where the minority is in general disadvantaged, this cannot be said to occur as badly in singapore as elsewhere. before you plant a sweeping statement on me denouncing me as an ignorant chinese, i would like to point out as many as 30% of my friends come from your so called disadvantaged races (malays and indians). Their view on the racial situation in singapore is in fact that they are advantaged by minority laws, such as quotas for malays to enter medical school. Furthermore the lack of malays holding high-paying jobs should not be simply blamed on chinese discrimination, but rather their own inability (and you should agree on this given that you have wrote about diff intellects of diff races). In fact it is a common joke amongst the malay community both at my former schools as well as outside school, that malays are inherently stupid or at least less bright than others (to them if you can't change it, you might as well laugh with it). It may sound offensive, but all these are told to me by malays (who consider a smart mud an oxymoron). Coming from a chinese, calling a malay a mud may be offensive, but that is what they call themselves, just as african americans term themselves niggers. As another malay friend pointed out, the best example of malay stupidity is that over 2000 years, the romans built rome, the chinese build stuff like the great wall and their many dynasties, and yet after 2000 years the malays are all still rowing in sampans.

Of course not all malays are stupid, but it is to be accepted that on standardized tests they often fare worse, and quotas are often allocated in various organizations and scholarships in order to maintain the racial balance, or by merit the chinese population would dominate

I use the above examples not in a discriminatory manner, but to point out that your views on chinese repressing malays almost seems as though you are engaging in a fault-finding exercise by blaming societal circumstances on the most blamable source. Given your intellectual calibre, I am frankly amazed at your need to find ills in society and denounce them. You rightly point out or imply often that a meek society without critics is one destined for disaster, but please consider the reverse that if everyone was a cynic and critic on every aspect of society like how you write about Singapore, society would never thrive either. Every society has its fundemental ills, every system has its own pros and cons.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Wow, Bill, wow. You have revealed a wider ranging, deeper, more extensive, more varied, form of racism in your comment than anyone before you, has shown on my blog. But heh, you think it normal, for Singapore. Thank you for confirming what I was trying to observe, by your response.

Firstly, a sample of 2,733 of each of the races would be enough to get a good sense of what consitutes these races. Far MORE information would have been extracted about a far GREATER proportion of the human race, had that been done. Some commenters have said that 90 odd people is "enough" for the minorities...which is not so...but how much better would 2,733 be? As for your suggestion that the sample be in racial proportion - you know yourself, as you claim a knowledge of stats etc. that that would mean that little real info would be uncovered about the minorities. A sufficient sample needs to be taken of each race to uncover meaningful information.

What I have discovered about Singapore is that a) the majority race are frequently racist, without realizing it. b) that they always justify their racism and c) they always attack anyone who points out their racism.

In your case, you are trying to attack my "intellectual calibre" by stating that you expect more of one of my calibre. That is, of course, an ad hominem attack and is usually employed by people without any real argument, filled with prejudices.

Now, I find your statement that Malays are "stupid" and that they even say this themselves, astonishing. For a start it just isn't true. I have, for instance, met very few creative people in Singapore...but guess what, the ones who are creative are MALAYS, they are most certainly not Chinese. So, how do you explain that in your "Malays are stupid" view? My wife is Malay and highly are many of her relatives - all of whom, of course, are Malay. Her brother, for instance, is a young artist, of some reputation and around 20 exhibitions...but heh, that can't be so, can it in your world view in which "Malays are stupid". My children are half-Malay, too...but perhaps you haven't noticed something about them: they are not known for their stupidity either. One of them is the youngest child in the world to have passed an O level, and to have studied at Poly.

If you think Malays are "stupid" then you haven't taught in schools have you? Malays often have a kind of intelligence called creativity...which is unquestionably rare in Singapore. However, they are not encouraged in their creative pursuits, in Singapore. I have, however, found that Chinese students, whilst very good in a rote learning sense, are typically uncreative. Perhaps you would like to explain this situation in terms of your "Malays are stupid" theory?

I am further amazed that you would assume my agreement to your argument that "Malays are stupid"...because I don't agree with you at all. Malays are different from the Chinese...but they are not stupid. What the Chinese are good at, most Malays are not even interested in (ie. rote learning etc.)

As for discrimination in Singapore, it is not just the Malays who are discriminated against...ALL non-Chinese suffer discrimination of varying levels. The Chinese in Singapore deny this discrimination happens because they don't personally feel it...but it is strong in Singapore, not weak as you claim.

I do not set out to criticize Singapore as a mission...I only observe truths as I note them. Sometimes I post on positive aspects of Singapore, sometimes negative aspects. However, I do note that to say anything negative about Singapore is to court a deluge of counter-critics. It isn't fun. Were I not so interested in creating a better understanding of the true situation in the places I have lived, I would not comment at all - since it can be quite a pain to do so, sometimes.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You are right that no place is perfect. However, Singapore is one place that really doesn't like people pointing this out about it. It is very unlikely that everyone would be a critic, since few have the independence of mind to see a place clearly - and fewer still the stomach to point it out. However, where there are a lot of critics, you will always find a lot of real problems. Perhaps the "system" in Singapore would do well to listen.

Thanks for your comment.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

A country with no critics at all, is either perfect...or a really scary place indeed. Which would you rather have, silence, or a critic or two?

8:17 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

You have some interesting assumptions, Bill, in your thought processes. You assume, for instance, that someone of high intellectual calibre, would meekly accept the nature of a society and never dare to criticize it. Perhaps that is Singapore's "Scholar" model of an intellect...but it does not apply in the wider world. Indeed, generally speaking, the brightest people are more likely to be critics, in almost all societies, than the less endowed. You assume the opposite...very interestingly, I think.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Fox said...

I think I pointed this out but for some reason, Mr. Cawley did not see it fit to be published.

Most of the data was gathered in China, that is, most of the DNA samples were taken in China. Of the 8200 samples, only 570 were taken from Chinese Singaporeans.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Fox, you always have this idea that I don’t publish your comments…well, I do. It is just that I have limited time and I have to be ready to respond to a comment, before I publish it. In your case, you often make comments that require a response time that others do not…hence I have to wait until I have time to address them. You should really try to understand that other people have lives and that blogging is not the sole purpose, meaning or responsibility in my life – so comments often have to wait until I am ready.

Yes. 570 samples were from Singapore and 7,630 would, therefore be from China. You are trying to make the point that a minority of the sampling was Singaporean. However is this true? You see, you have failed to take population size into account.

The Chinese population in 2008 was: 1,325,639,982 according to the World Bank. Singapore’s population at that time was only 4,839,400. Now, 7,630 people sampled from 1.325 billion (for China) represents one person in 173,740.5 people. 570 out of 4.839 million represents one person in 8,490. Now, it is clear that the proportion of Singaporeans sampled is vastly greater than the proportion of Chinese mainlanders. Thus, it is actually the opposite case of what you are trying to suggest. The Singaporeans are OVER-REPRESENTED compared to the Chinese…not under-represented.

The other fact to consider is that all the samples were Han Chinese…so does it really matter which nationality they have? All are of the SAME genetic background. It is 100% Han Chinese. You could not have got a more selected group.

Thanks for your comment. However, the underlying truth does not reflect the point you were trying to make.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I find your further point, Fox, too aggressively expressed. You may note that I did not get aggressive in discussing your why should you in discussing mine? Perhaps, however, you don't realize that your wording comes across as aggressive.

Have a good day.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. I believe that we know that large firms routinely design drugs using westerners. Isn't it sad that the westerners, who are a minority in the world design drugs not for the majorities in the world, but for themselves, but nevertheless prescribe them to the rest of the world, with some side-effects (or rather lack of effect).

It is not only in medicine that this happens.

Anyway, i think any study/research is good (of course within ethical limits). No matter how racist one may imagine such studies are, it is still progress. Progress which not everyone appreciates (including those from the same scientific community). I know this because my close friend works in the medical research field.

Oh by the way, continuing from where i left off, since different drugs work differently on different ethnic groups, it does make sense to conduct a study exclusively on race. Perhaps that study did not focus exclusively on drug research, but such gene mapping can only provide a way forward for drug development tailored for chinese. Is this not like how current drugs were designed and tested mainly on westerners? But i guess over time, certain people have forgotten this "racist" treatment. Are westerners more important to the world that the malays? Or the japanese? Malays have a unique genetic makeup from say the westerners, wouldn't it make sense for the Malay research community in Malaysia and other countries in the region to conduct such research? If it were conducted, i would fully support it. The same goes if India design drugs specifically for Indians (and therefore requiring the genetic pool of only Indians to be mapped)


Re. discrimination

It occurs in EVERY country without fail. It permeates every class of society and every level of government policies.

While it is ideal not to have it, it is unfortunate that it does and will continue to exist. It is only how much do people continue to have a Them vs. Us mentality. The only ones who are free from such thoughts are babies- and perhaps people who truly do not mentally categorize others into different racial groups.

I have personally experienced it in western europe last year. Not only are Asians discriminated, even western minorities are discriminated against as well (i believe i posted a link re. this happening in N.Ireland earlier this year, but it was brushed aside becoz someone had no time to read the BBC article on it...oh well)


Personally speaking, I have great respect for my Malay and Indian friends. As you have correctly pointed out, the Malays are very creative people, much more than the Chinese and the Indians. And as for the Indians, many are gifted in debate and maths/science (providing rather stiff competition when it comes to the bell curve grading system).

Rather than criticize each other, isn't it better for each race to make full use of their innate/cultural heritage to contribute to society in the way they do best in? And by extension, for each person to contribute in the field of their choice and ability.


Despite the differences everyone has with one another, i do hope that at least all are agreeable to scientific progress- and in this case, a genetic map for the chinese ethnic group. Perhaps we will see one for the other races in the near future, although over time, this mapping becomes less accurate and important due to inter-racial marriages.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Again, you overlook my main point. Singapore is comprised primarily of three races. Any genetic study with Singapore as an important element, should involve study of all three races - otherwise racism is present. It is simple really.

Yes. It is useful for the Chinese to have a Chinese only study...but you know what, Singapore is not a Chinese only country (as much as some Singaporean Chinese people would like it to be). Therefore, all three major races should be do otherwise is to neglect the minorities.

Re. drug studies. Nope. Not exactly. I lived in the UK for most of my life. Drug studies would regularly advertise in all newspapers for participants. So, the people on whom the drugs were tested would comprise, in all likelihood the races that constitute the UK - which, as you probably know, is ALL races - though the majority will be Caucasian (though not for won't be long before the Caucasian is in the minority, least it seems so, with the numbers of South Asians present).

So, Western drug studies are unlikely to be so Western as you think...unless they deliberately exclude non-Western participants (which I have not heard of).

Re. racism. Yes, it occurs elsewhere...but you know what: Western countries are typically far less racist than Singapore is, or some other Asian countries are. An Asian in Western Europe, can go much further in all areas, than say a non-local can go in certain Asian countries. There is no deliberate policy of exclusion as exists in Singapore, say, or indeed, many other Asian countries (how about Japan?)

I would not even remark on Singapore's racism were it on the level typical of a European country...because it would be a lot less prevalent than is in Singapore.

You know, racism is so striven against in Western countries that there are public programmes against it, at all levels. Indeed, it is BETTER to be a minority in a Western country than to come from the majority - you will have more opportunities and more doors will be open and the thresholds for admission are LOWER. The BBC for instance has had minorities training programmes for DECADES, that exclude majority candidates and specifically give an "in" to minorities.

So, the situation is not as you paint it. Perhaps you didn't live in the West long enough to note the advantages that minorities are given there.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Yes, by the way, you are right: I often don't have enough time to address all points raised. Sorry about that...

11:23 PM  
Anonymous bill said...

wrt to your later comments, valentine, you have not addressed (or maybe i missed it) my points about minorities in singapore being advantaged in some ways (such as minimum quotas for places for them particularly in the civil service). furthermore throughout one's life there are awards specifically given to minority races such as top malay and top indian students, while no such provision exists for chinese. if you claim that advantages for minorities make european nations less racist than singapore, you've evidently missed this part about singapore.

your take on this racism issue reminds me of a remark i read in an american editorial which states: america is so anti-racism that it is no longer politically correct to even call a pot of coffee black. perhaps the reason why anti-racism campaigns are so prevalent in these countries is because they have a need for it, because racism is prevalent there. i dont think you see singaporean chinese killing malays based on race (in fact i dont think it has ever happened unless you count the past race riots and please dont say its cos we have a small population), but yes it doesn't happen as isolated incidents the same cannot be said about europe.

so please do not be the typical westerner to make asian nations sound backwards and behind, just like how the west has often tried to paint africa as savages in the past. it is simply not true.

I have given up on arguing whether this specific case study is racist in nature, but I do hope you'll admit on this one that singaporean society on the whole is not any more racist than european societies and countries. i feel at least singaporean minorities similar to their european counterparts advantaged over the majority in some ways and disadvantaged in others.

if you want a truly racist country, perhaps you might consider those where it is in their national laws to be racist (eg malaysia's bumiputra policies). you also might consider that many countries in europe restrict certain privileges to citizens, and citizenship is contingent upon race.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Bill you seem unable to see what is happening in Singapore. This, I find, is something most Singaporean Chinese people share in common.

You point to preferential treatment for minorities. This would almost be funny were it not so sad. Minorities in Singapore are heavily discriminated against in many areas. For instance, there are 10 SAP schools – Special Assistance Plan schools in Singapore directed purely at Mandarin speakers. These are elite schools for Chinese Singaporeans. There are no such schools for Malay or Indian children.

Then again, just try rising to the top of the military in Singapore, if you are a Muslim or a Malay. These categories of people are specifically EXCLUDED from high office, on the basis of a state paranoia concerning their natural fealty.

Then again, the work situation in Singapore is pretty strange. All my bosses, in all the companies I have worked for, have been Chinese – except for one Caucasian. I have never had a Malay boss. This is a pretty prevalent situation. Malays tend to have lower positions – even if they are of high ability, as not an insignificant number are.

Then again, even Caucasians are discriminated against. I once asked a casting director at Mediacorp why white faces were so rare on TV in Singapore and why they had no long running roles. I asked her was it a coincidence or was it policy. She paused for the longest time and then said: “It is policy”. Thus we have an example of state enshrined racist policy in Singapore. I am sure there are many other such rules in place. Were they not, it would be difficult to explain the complete dominance of all spheres of life here, by one race, to the almost total exclusion of all other races. (Even beyond their numerical advantages…)

I have lived in Singapore for almost a decade. I have lived in Europe and America for a total of three decades. I have no doubt at all, that Singapore is the most racist of the countries I have lived in. It is not similar to European norms. It far exceeds European norms for racism, many fold.

As for the idea that you have to be a certain race to get citizenship…err nonsense, as far as I can see. In all European countries I know of, anyone of any race, can get citizenship simply by marrying a local. There are other methods too, based on length of stay.

Western countries have pro-minority policies to ensure opportunities for minorities. Show me a Singaporean company, for instance, that specifically disallows the hiring of Chinese people for certain jobs…good jobs…and specifically asks for Malays or Indians etc? All Western countries have such policies, that I am aware of.

Singapore is a recently developed country, in terms of infrastructure. However, it has a long way to go if it is be developed in its attitudes to people of different races.

Were Singapore more flexible with regards to non-Chinese people it would be greatly strengthened in many ways. That is a lesson it has yet to learn.

Thank you for your thoughts. I understand why you think as you do…but your views don’t agree with my life experience in around 20 countries, in four continents.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u failed to address the violent crimes against the minorities in N.ireland.

And what about the recent swiss vote on certain muslim affairs?

In case u were wondering, i was referring drug research in the US, not the UK, which still does most of the research on whites (since most volunteers are whites), even though drugs are meant for the world... or perhaps their world is mostly white? Perhaps more incentive to get more non-whites to sign up for the testing?

Hey. Did u notice that most western shows have an overwhelmingly white cast? Definitely not in proportion to their population. But hey... whatever earns the big bucks works for the directors.

Below are some articles for your kind consideration. Kindly do not use the 'i do not have the time' excuse as you have done with the N.Ireland BBC article when i first posted it; nor should you ignore it as u have done in my last post

Thank you.
And oh, btw, im not denying that racism does not exist in singapore.
But rather that the west has its own fair share of racism, both past and present. Furthermore, the existence of reverse discrimination only serves to highlight that not everyone is treated equally, and hence require a helpline. If the west were truly (or mostly) colorblind, these policies would definitely not be necessary.
Food for thought: Perhaps u should read up on the US election and racism. It reared its ugly head in the world's 'leader' in democracy and equal rights.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Boy oh boy…well, here goes.

Firstly, most of your assertions are plain wrong. They are not supported by the life experience of anyone I know who has lived in the West. Before you jump at the kind of people I know, most people I knew were from “minorities”…over 50% of them.

Now, let us address a few of your points. Ever heard of Eddie Murphy? He is a BLACK leading man and star comedian. How about Richard Prior? (The same as for Eddie Murphy). Then there are Asian stars in the West, who typically are cast as lawyers, doctors and other professionals (Lucy Liu, I believe, for instance). These are Asians and Blacks playing leading roles. In Singapore, there are NO whites playing leading roles. Whites in Singapore are usually cast in “Chinese revenge fantasy roles” as I call them, in which the white man looks really, really bad. For instance, a white “rapist” (in one show). The white man is always made to look bad – not reflecting reality at all, but reflecting a kind of Chinese resentment of them. So, even the writing of white roles in racist in Singapore.

Re. US racism. Ever heard of President Barack Obama…black isn’t he? Well, if America had a racist majority, he could not have been elected. This is proof that any racism in America is in the minority.

By contrast, Singapore’s Chinese leaders of the PAP have publicly stated that Singapore will NOT have a minority Prime Minister, saying “Singapore is not ready for that”. What they mean is that Singapore is a Chinese dominated state in which minorities must never rise to power and influence, so only a Chinese person – preferably from one family – can be appointed.

Re. drug research. Ever heard of payment for “volunteering”? Such payments are usual. The people of lower incomes are most likely to apply…this will ensure a wide spread of races in US clinical trials, not just “whites” as you claim. Show me a study of the type of person in a typical trial to back up what you claim.

You show an amazing degree of self-involvement and arrogance in dismissing the fact that I have relatively little time to attend to whatever matters people might raise on my blog. You call it “an excuse”…well, it happens to be the truth. That you should dismiss it as a mere excuse, indicates that you are not considering other people. Isn’t that quite similar to what racists do?

I don’t have time to look at your links just now. However I will say this: I have visited around 20 countries and lived in three continents. Singapore is the most racist country I have lived in. But heh, what is my personal experience compared to your infinite, infallible wisdom? No doubt, the facts of the lives of everyone else on Earth would be meaningless data to you.

Reverse discrimination policies exist to ensure opportunities for minorities no matter what people do or want to do. They are an insurance policy against racism. They are a wise addition to any society, for there are always people of unpleasant views, everywhere. However, I am certain, from my own experience, that racism is less prevalent and less intense in the West than it is in Singapore (for comparison). A society which brings in reverse discrimination policies (which Singapore hasn’t) is showing that it won’t stand for racism. Singapore, on the other hand has racist polices, at government level, that ENSURE discrimination. I know which any thoughtful person would prefer.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. not in proportion to population...hmm...perhaps you should take a look at the cast of TV series these days, let's say "Heroes". Maybe you are unable to distinguish between races and so have not seen that Heroes is packed full of minorities: black, Asian and Hispanic. They are more than abundant enough to be fair. (Actors Santiago Cabrera (Hispanic), Noah Gray-Cabey (Black), James Kyson Lee (Asian), Masi Oka (Asian), Sendil Ramamurthy(Indian), Dania Ramirez (Hispanic)etc.

You know, if I were from a minority, I would much rather be in America, than in Singapore...from ANY minority. Especially, if I was an actor, or in politics, or in any aspect of public life that involved influence, prestige or real opportunity - because the West is much more open to that than Singapore is.

Why not try to see the real opportunities that minorities have in the West, instead of seeking out exceptional articles?

1:31 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. casting not in proportion.

You are right and you are wrong. You see, you are right in the wrong way. Far from being UNDER-represented, certain minorities are OVER-represented in certain shows. In Heroes for instance, there are two "Japanese" main characters (and hundreds of other minor Japanese characters in some episodes). Well, that makes two Japanese out of 20 main characters. That is 10% of the cast. However, the prevalence of Asian Americans in America is just 4.4%...thus, in Heroes Asian are OVER-represented by a factor of over two.

I could go on, but you really should have got the point by now.

In fact, it is better to be an Asian actor in the US, than an Asian actor in Singapore...because the pay is really bad in Singapore, even for Asians, in TV/film.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Valentine,

Below is an insightful article on racial discrimination in Singapore.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the article. It addresses some issues of racism in Singapore but is a little soft on the issues, I think - and leaves much out. There is more to Singaporean racism than is addressed...however, it does help put some issues into perspective.

Thanks for the link.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous HuffPuff said...

Since when Malays consider themselves stupid and it's an acceptable & recurring joke among the community? I have never came across people from my own community who take pride in such stance. How credible that piece of observation from Bill is highly debatable. If it's being said, most times it's almost always in sarcasm. That's a nuance essential for one to pick up in order not to end up being the brunt of jokes.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Bill is an extreme racist. This is clear from the totality of his comments. So, I wouldn't get upset by him...I would just see him for what he is: ignorant of the common civilities of modern life.

You are right. Malays do not speak and think in the way Bill says...I think that is the way BILL thinks of them. However, as most people know, there are many Malays smarter, for instance, than he seems to be.

I hope he didn't offend you too much.

Thanks for your viewpoint from the Malay community.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said that you've lived in Europe and America for 30 years. However, as a Caucasian, you are one of the majorities there. So, how can understand what the minorities there feel. Racism in those countries may be comparable to the degree in which you deem racism in Singapore is.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I have tried to post a commenter's comment but I don't see it here. Anyway, they said that I can't know what it is like to be a minority in Europe because I am Caucasian. Well, this is patently false. Firstly, I have the ability to observe the lives of my minority friends. Secondly there are different types of Caucasian - sub races if you like. I am IRISH, which made me a minority in the English, England. So, I do know. I have spent all my life being a minority.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Racism is much more severe in Singapore than in the Europe I observed.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Racism is much more severe in Singapore than in the Europe I observed.

10:38 PM  

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