Russians in Singapore divided over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Feb 27, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
Alexander Kuznetsov, an international school owner who has been living in Singapore for 10 years, said that while invading other countries is against international law, this is a "difficult decision".

Speaking to CNA, the 50-year-old said that there are other factors that need to also be considered. For instance, he said that there were thousands of people who were killed by Ukrainians in the mining basin Donbas and Luhansk, which are on the border with Russia.

The regions have been locked in armed conflict with Kyiv’s army since a Kremlin-backed armed uprising following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

"The international community almost didn't do anything to stop it," he said, adding that Russians with relatives in the regions would have put pressure on the Government to stop the killing.

Putin's public approval is soaring during the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Public opinion polls in Russia showed that support for Putin is rising.

Russia’s military buildup along the Ukrainian border over the last few months coincides with a steady rise in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity.

Approximately 69% of Russians now approve of Putin, compared to the 61% who approved of him in August 2021, according to Russian polling agency the Levada Center. And 29% of Russians disapprove of Putin, down from 37% in August 2021. The polling group is the leading independent sociological research organization in Russia and is widely respected by many scholars.

Support for Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his cabinet also increased moderately in the same time period.

The Russian public largely believes that the Kremlin is defending Russia by standing up to the West.

Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier smokes a cigarette near the front line with Russia-backed separatists in Lugansk, Ukraine, on Feb. 22, 2022. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

The rally ‘round the flag effect of supporting political leadership during an international crisis will likely be short-lived.

Historical data shows that diversionary wars — fighting abroad to draw attention away from problems at home — have rarely worked for Putin.

Daring and expensive military adventures will, over time, decrease the Kremlin’s popularity, history also tells us.

Political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, who was also the former speechwriter for Putin says that while the majority of Russians will support the decision, the impact of such propaganda on the domestic audience is limited, compared to 2014, when the Kremlin managed to rally Russians around the idea of annexing Crimea.

Not every Russian is on board with Putin

One Russian who has been living in Singapore with her husband and three children for 14 years, and who wants to be known only as Ms Alexandra, said her family in Singapore is "sad and disappointed".

"Now, everyone in the world will think that Russians are crazy. We feel ashamed," said the 44-year-old business owner.

"War for me is history, it is black and white cinema, it is history textbooks, archives, it is the past, I believed that it will never exist again and never will," she said. She added that she has been following the news closely and feeling down.

Thousands protest in Russia's far east, challenging Kremlin

Mass rallies challenging the Kremlin rocked Russia's Far East city of Khabarovsk on Saturday (Feb 26), as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest the arrest of the region’s governor on charges of involvement in multiple murders.

Local media estimated the rally in the city 3,800 miles east of Moscow drew 15,000 to 50,000 people, while city authorities put the number at 10,000. Hundreds of people have rallied in the city every day this week against the arrest of Sergei Furgal, reflecting widespread anger over the arrest of the popular governor and a simmering discontent with the Kremlin’s policies.

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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes

Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.

Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video

Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.