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SportSG apologises for “racist” image; staff identified as Singapore Sports Institute’s chief

“The caricature of a kachang puteh man was neither intended to be disrespectful or to poke fun at others.”

SportsSG has apologised to people offended by the viral image of one of its Singaporean chinese executive caricaturing as an indian man. They said netizens have shared the posts without “the benefit of understanding the context”.

“We would like to sincerely apologise if any of this has caused offence to people who have seen the posts on social media without the benefit of understanding the context.”

– Spokesperson for SportsSG

The executive has since been identified as Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) chief Toh Boon Yi, 48.

The SSI is an arm of local sports governing body SportSG and supports national athletes with high-performance programmes and pathways.

In a media statement Saturday evening (Nov 24), SportsSG said the caricature of a kachang puteh man “was neither intended to be disrespectful or to poke fun at others”.

The event was a Deepavali celebration organised by staff for SportsSG indian colleagues. Toh was dressed up in a “sarong, towel head wrap and a beard”, and asked to “serve Deepavali snacks”. He was also tasked to greet attending colleagues at the door with a “hello” greeting in Tamil.

Here is SportsSG statement in full:

“We are aware of a photo taken during our annual Sport Singapore (SportSG) Deepavali celebration circulating on social media.

The event was organised by staff to celebrate Deepavali with our Indian colleagues. The event encompassed both cultural and fun elements that included a sharing of the origins of Deepavali, learning about mindfulness and treats of traditional Deepavali goodies. There was an energetic group dance competition and pageant, where people were encouraged to be attired in both traditional and fancy dress.

The staff captured in the photo was dressed up by his colleagues in a sarong, towel head wrap and a beard, and asked to serve Deepavali snacks. He gave a traditional “hello” greeting in Tamil as staff arrived for the event.

The caricature of a kachang puteh man was neither intended to be disrespectful or to poke fun at others. If anything, the intent was to create a celebratory and appreciative atmosphere amongst our multi-racial colleagues.

We would like to sincerely apologise if any of this has caused offence to people who have seen the posts on social media without the benefit of understanding the context.”

Here are some photos from the Deepavali event:

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