My daughter just asked minutes ago what did Seng Han Thong do wrong? I said as far as I can tell since I wasn't following this closely, he wasn't a racist. In fact his strength might have turned out to be a serious liability. He is probably racially blind like everyone in my family is. Unaware of the racial chip on many people shoulders, Seng Han Thong mistake was his carelessness and complacency. When he tried to explain himself in all honesty, he only made it worse. His apology came across as insincere. Those that were offended would accept nothing less than an unvarnished apology that he was wrong and truly sorry. Honesty wins no plaudits here.
My elder daughter best friends in school is a Malay and Indian girl. The younger girl buddy is a Kaur. They both have many friends from other races.
Seng Han Thong's fiasco is a lightning rod telling me that my girls are potentially at risk of making the same mistake. They have to learn to see what the world looks like through the colored lens of race and religion. A good place to start might be the startlingly shocking views of the Jews, Christians and Arabs over Jerusalem.
Once my daughter asked her Indian classmate what is that guy he was wearing on a necklace around her neck. Her ASEAN scholar classmate, a Malaysian Chinese was shocked by that remark. She asked her who she thought Jesus Christ was. My daughter innocently responded that he was a person, just another guy. These are quick thinking and bright kids. They understood right way she was religion blind. No such luck for Seng Han Thong.
This is a divided world with divided peoples. The late Pope John Paul II was very wise to suggest that we are one because we are different.
Let's not be so cruel to Seng Han Thong.