Former S’pore PM Responds to Netizens Claiming He Portrayed Muslims as ‘Scarecrows’


With Hari Raya Puasa being yesterday, it’s no doubt that the festivities were very much in place, especially since the COVID-19 safe management measures (SMMs) were relaxed recently.

However, some netizens noticed something posted by one of Singapore’s former politicians.

And it left a pretty bad taste in most people’s mouths, to say the least.

On Monday (2 May), former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong posted the following photograph on Facebook.

In his caption, he wrote, “Selamat Hari Raya Puasa to all our Muslim friends.”

The image was of him and his wife standing next to a scarecrow that had green packets in its pockets.

After the photograph was uploaded to the web, many netizens began questioning the significance behind the photo, and pointed out that it was especially disrespectful to the Muslim community.

The photo soon became widely circulated across social media, and the original post garnered over 975 reactions and 600 shares on Facebook.

Many of the reactions were “Angry” reactions, although some did react to the post with the “Haha” reaction as well.

Netizens’ Response

Many also argued that ESM Goh could have easily avoided this encounter just by exercising more sensitivity and tact.

Someone even commented, “Mr Goh, for all the respect i have for you, i have to point out how disrespectful this is to the Malay community here in SG.

“You could have gotten a couple of your Malay constituents or party members for this photo op, but instead you picked a scarecrow.”

According to the comments on the post, the scarecrow is located at Hort Park.

Another Facebook user even jokingly commented, “I think this is why Malaysia didn’t wanna keep us in the 60s.”

That comment has since racked up over 130 reactions on Facebook.


ESM Goh’s Response

In light of the recent attention that his post received, ESM Goh posted the following statement yesterday (3 May).

In his post, he wrote that he only took the photo as he passed by the “familiar” scarecrow at Hort Park and “was struck by its change of attire”.

He also highlighted that he only “took a pic to send [his] greetings to all Muslim friends”.

“I am dismayed that some have misinterpreted the post as portraying Malays/Muslims as “scarecrows”. This is far from my mind. I spent my political lifetime working for a harmonious multi-racial society. This episode reminds us that strengthening multi-racialism is always work in progress. All of us have to do our part. Scary, isn’t it?” he concluded.


The post was also accompanied by a photo of ESM with the same scarecrow at a different time, as observed from the difference in the scarecrow’s clothing.

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And while some commenters expressed their support for the former Prime Minister, others continued to berate ESM Goh for his photo and lack of accountability towards it.

“It’s done in very bad taste to portray Malays as scarecrows. I used to admire you but this episode clearly shows that you have a screw loose somewhere. THE LEAST you could do is ISSUE AN APOLOGY to the whole Malay Muslim community to win us back on your side,” one user wrote.

Others also pointed out that times have changed, with one user commenting, “The social perception of things had changed. Very challenging situation now.”

However, there were still Singaporeans who openly supported ESM Goh.

“If they only know how much you did for the Malay Muslim community and leeways….. sad. ! Have we arrived in terms of a matured and multiracial society….. U are absolutely correct ESM,” one user said.


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Featured Image: Facebook (MParader)