By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Before we start the discussion, let's look at the following two cases:
Similar to the ban on "African" tenants at a Bandar Sri Subang condominium, these are typical frictions due to cultural differences.
For those aunties at the Sunset Park of Brooklyn in New York, dancing at the park was not only a pleasant activity but others might also enjoy watching them dancing. How could it be an act of violating the law? Isn't it a discrimination against Chinese culture? Isn't it a discrimination against Chinese immigrants?
However, these Chinese aunties have forgotten the old saying of "do in Rome as the Romans do". Although they are free to dance at parks in China, they must comply with local laws when they are abroad. Local parks have strict rules prohibiting loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise. Others have the right to make complaints if they violate the rule and once a police report, the police has to act accordingly.
The curry cooking quarrel in Singapore is another example. The incident had sparked an uproar after it was reported by the media. Many Singaporeans, including Chinese, Indians and Malays, criticised that the ruling was unfair and did not take into account Singapore's multi-cultural characteristic. They had even launched a curry cooking protest.
As for the ban on "African" tenants in our country, it is also caused by cultural differences. Africans are generally more open. They like drinking, singing and dancing. These are part of their life and culture. However, they have forgotten that they have to follow local customs and rules when they are here. They should drink less and more importantly, avoid making troubles after drinking. They do not know how they should sing and dance less to avoid disturbing their neighbours, they also do not know that they should adapt themselves to local living culture, instead of just living in their own ways.
We can understand local people's feelings, as well as the pressure and helplessness of the condominium's management. Of course, we must also find out whether the huge number of Africans are really students as they claimed. Meanwhile, we should be more tolerant, too. The building's management indeed has the freedom to choose its tenants, as well as to make rules regulating its tenants, but they certainly cannot choose tenants based on their skin colours, as it is blatantly an act of racial discrimination, as well as a violation of basic human rights.
With the formation of global village, there would be more and more disputes caused by racial and cultural differences. Since we have no way to escape, we should then learn how to face it more tolerantly, as well as continue reflecting and making compromises.