It Took Joshua Robinson to Expose Singapore’s Xenophobia

In the aftermath of Joshua Robinson’s recent sentencing, the internet blew up. He got 4 years in prison for a plethora of crimes (from sex with a minor to possession of child pornography), and the Attorney General’s office even came forward to clarify that there had been no double-standard in the sentencing.

This didn’t stop comments sections from spiralling into chaos. From the petition for an increased sentence to the Facebook pages of several local media sites, we saw the worst of Singaporeans.

From these comments alone, we learnt 3 main things about Singaporeans and how they think.

1. Singaporeans are obsessed with caning.

2. Singaporeans are actually fucking racist and xenophobic. And this is somehow acceptable online.

3. Everything in Singapore is the PAP’s fault.

Now let’s just skip over all the protests about “Blah blah blah not every Singaporean is like this these are just the online trolls” and get to why, sincere or not, these comments are so problematic.


Speaking out with a sense of justice is not a bad thing per se. It is, however, short-sighted as it completely overlooks more urgent issues.

For instance, the fact that Singapore has no sex offenders registration or notification system. Countries like South Korea, Australia, Germany, the UK and Taiwan all do. Why not Singapore?

A registry will require offenders to maintain updated information, with this public record discouraging them from re-offending. It will also keep neighbourhoods and everyone living in the vicinity of a sex offender informed on their presence.

Critics of such a registry have said that such a system encourages discrimination, but in Singapore, is this not deterrence? Is this not something to make one think twice about offending?

On top of this, why are we not instead talking about rehabilitation?

There are plenty of counselling programmes out there for individuals with problematic relationships with their sexuality. Why are we not talking about boosting public knowledge, to make sure that more people know they can seek help if they need it?

Granted, many of these comments come from people who are angry and perhaps ignorant of the laws and statutes that decide this stuff. But the truth is, we all know people like that. People who are not just ignorant, but choose and thrive on that ignorance. People who are happy to re-direct their anger at, for example, how “foreigners are stealing all our high paying jobs.”

Everyone needs someone to blame, so of course turning this into a race issue becomes the easiest thing to do.

The funny thing is, we still constantly hear talk of how Singapore is multi-racial and tolerant, and how this is in fact central to our identity. Yet you need only look online to realise that the country has a long way to go.

Who do we blame for this?

The PAP—duh.

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