updated 14 Dec 2011, 16:29
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Wed, Dec 14, 2011
The New Paper
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Her anti-Indian expat remarks rile netizens
by Teh Jen Lee

SHE is a former beauty queen in a pageant run by Vasantham, Singapore’s only free-to-air Indian-language channel.

But her recent online comments are not a pretty sight, a number of netizens seem to feel.

Miss Shobna Sukumar, 25, a Singaporean freelance TV actress, posted a series of negative comments on her Facebook account last month about Indians from India, calling them irritating and mercenary.

Miss Shobna, who was Miss Vasantham 2004, also accused them of being inconsiderate, sexually promiscuous and prone to cheating.

Her comments drew criticism from other Facebook users, who slammed the TV personality for being disrespectful.

‘Complete fool’

One user called A-leen There wrote: “You have just made a complete fool of yourself talking like that. Look at the language used, the personal attacks. I hope Vasantham or any other channel does not use you. Respect is the most basic thing.”

Mrs Priya Asok Kumar, 27, contacted The New Paper about the heated exchange on Facebook, which spawned more than 60 comments.

The Singaporean, who provides foreign-student services, said that what irritated her is that Miss Shobna is a public personality and people might look up to her.

“She was just going on and on... How can she do that?

“Just because she has fame doesn’t mean she can write anything. I see Indians from India every day of my life. My husband is also Indian, and he’s nothing like what she says.”

Mrs Asok Kumar added: “She should not look down on people coming from other countries. Singapore is a home for everyone.”

In defence

But Miss Shobna defended her views, saying she expressed them because she feels Indians from India look down on Singapore.

She told The New Paper: “I used to have acquaintances who are India Indians. They behave very arrogantly towards us. They keep saying that without (expats), Singapore is nothing, and that we have no culture.

“This is not about race. We have so many races living together here. I’ve Malay, Chinese friends. We have close ties with them.

“But once it comes to these India people, somehow they will start comparing. I’m nationalist. I care for my nation’s people because I was born here.”

She added: “Many of them (Indian expats) treat Singapore as a stepping stone. They don’t intend to stay here. They will either go back or go to the UK or US.”

Mrs Asok Kumar said: “I’m so embarrassed... because people might think we all think like her. I bring Sri Lanka and India students to study here, I tell them that Singaporeans are helpful but this is a slap on the face by a fellow Singaporean.”

Should Miss Shobna be more careful with her comments?

“I am just saying what’s affecting me. Others out there might agree with me. Somebody has to speak out,” she said.

She added that she does not have much contact with foreigners from other countries, so she’s neutral about them.

When contacted, a spokesman for Vasantham said: “We do not share Miss Shobna’s personal views and thus will not comment on them. Shobna was a former Miss Vasantham in 2004 and is a freelance artiste. “She is not contracted to the company. She has only appeared in a few dramas on the channel.”

When asked for comments on the relationship between local and expat Indians, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said: “I am deeply troubled by the stories of the gap between Singaporean Indians and Indians from India.

“However, I must confess that I have never encountered any personal difficulties. Indeed, I have made many new friends among Indians from India and I welcome their presence here.”

As for improving relations, he said: “It may be useful to think of new initiatives that bring the two groups together.

“Perhaps, organisations like Sinda (Singapore Indian Development Association) and the Indian Association can play a small role.

“However, I also believe that over time, the gap will naturally diminish through greater interaction. Hence, I am optimistic that this is a temporary problem.”

This article was first published in The New Paper

readers' comments
One day as I was standing at a bus-stop with memory of a South Indian man spitting incessantly as though no on was looking still in my mind, I felt a blue softness with a distinct smell flung onto my face.

It was a piece of sari flipped over her shoulder by the North Indian in front of me. She turned and looked at me blankly.
Posted by Rraymond on Mon, 24 Aug 2009 at 18:28 PM
Shobna is right so don't let these Indian expats netizens bully a patriotic Singaporean like her. They arrogantly declare themselves indispensable foreign talent when Singapore government is not even referring to them...

Even if not all Indian expats are like that, then Indian expats should show us their humility and willingness to adapt to Singapore and our customs. Taking it out on Shobna will not get you anywhere. Good on you, Shobna! Thanks for speaking out...Vasantham, make sure you don't sell her out!
Posted by hotkimchi on Mon, 24 Aug 2009 at 17:47 PM
Replying to Songshu's post "Why only rude Indians but Chinese ?
Mainland Indians come here to look down on the local Indians. But the Mainland Chinese don't look down on the local Chinese - it is the other way.
So PRC Chinese welcome but not Mainland Indians".

Trust me, the China Chinese are just as bad as the India Indians. They speak badly abt us coz our first language is English and they seem to think that our Mandarin is poorer simply bec we dun have that irritating twirling China accent.

Actually I don't really think that Singaporeans look down on pple from other ctry. In fact, we are generally too bochap that's why those foreigners can makan us.
Posted by sgcommentary on Wed, 5 Aug 2009 at 17:31 PM
A friend, the owner of the Singaporean company adopted the policy of charging Expat Indian premium price because of too many very bad experiences with highyly demanding and unreasonable expat Indians who constantly demands discount upon citing the slightest dissatisfaction after the completion of service.Heard a printer in Bras Basah also charges Premium for Expat Indians due to their nasty demands.By the way the owner of the cleaning company is a local Indian.

Many a time, his workers got into tongue lashing with expat Indians because of their rude regard for cleaners; probably these expats view cleaners as low paid workers who do not have to be shown any respect. This is not the treatment the cleaners experience from expats of other nationality, Many a worker complained that the expat Indian clients speaks in a condescending manner to them and regard them lowly.

According .....
Posted by SingapuraCat on Wed, 5 Aug 2009 at 02:46 AM
Why only rude Indians but Chinese ?
Mainland Indians come here to look down on the local Indians. But the Mainland Chinese don't look down on the local Chinese - it is the other way.
So PRC Chinese welcome but not Mainland Indians.
Posted by Songshus on Tue, 4 Aug 2009 at 10:09 AM
She is ABSOLUTELY right. Spot on Shobna and it's good that you've spoken up. Indian expats are rude and clueless that the world does not revolve around them. They have this mentality that they are above everyone else. This is the attitude i saw of the wealthier Indians when I was in India and I see the same attitude here. If they ask you for help with something, they don't know how to say thank you. Someone else highlighted this and it is true. There are a handful that have redeeming qualities but the majority are just rude. What would Kishore Mahbubani know about the expat Indians that hang around with the locals. Because he is no ordinary folk, he will of course be treated well. Having siad this, I have to add that the Chinese from China are no different. They come to MY country...and can't even speak English .....
Posted by babeliciousz on Tue, 4 Aug 2009 at 09:42 AM
I agree with Shobna. The whole world appear to dislikes expat indians. Just look at Australia! They are trying very hard to kick out the expat indians.

Why do the expat indians behave that way? Because many of these expats are from the privileged higher caste Hindus. They have been bred that it is their birthright to be served and that God gave them the birthright to demand everything from the rest of the world. It is really ironic that the whole world tolerate them not because of that but pitied them due to the perception that India is a backward third world country that desperately need help.

I have seen many instances on buses and trains when local singaporeans gave up seats to expat indian mothers carrying baby. The indian mothers will take up the seat without a word of thank and .....
Posted by me_citizen on Tue, 4 Aug 2009 at 09:00 AM
my issue is the higher income of these indian expats whom are overly demanding. They think the world owe them a living just because they have came out from poverty. The middle class Indians are quite nice and I have them as friends since they can adapt well to society. The upper class are the ones that need to get a basic courtesy education on how to respect people of all classes.
Posted by skooter86 on Mon, 3 Aug 2009 at 23:48 PM
What a-holes these Mainland Indians are - still maintaing the caste system at this age !
On what basis do they look down on SG Indians ? Maybe they think that they are the privileged ones that could come here as expats & the local Indians really low-class ? But then, maybe there are some good reasons that they think the local Indians are not up to their marks - uncultured, dunno where they belong to, cannot speak their own linguo, ..... ?
I feel so sorry for our local Indian friends.
Posted by Songshus on Mon, 3 Aug 2009 at 23:45 PM
Exactly. Indian scientists, technical guys, professors, sales are the people I've had dealings with who complain endlessly. These are the people who like to vent their ideas, their reasoning and justification for what they think is correct and want. It is quite painful to be in a supporting role in an MNC attending to the needs of these people. So life sucks ........ but it is a job.:D

Posted by chineseprincess on Mon, 3 Aug 2009 at 23:37 PM

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