Blogger slammed for 'blame it on your own poverty' remark

Miss Cheryl Seow apologised on The Real Singapore website, saying the post was "badly written".

SINGAPORE - As a Malaysian with Singapore permanent residency (PR), she was upset when she read a Singaporean's complaint about wealthy foreigners using our island as their "playground".

Her response in her blog, implying that Singaporeans should blame themselves for their "own poverty", has sparked an online storm, with several local netizens slamming her for being insensitive and a "spoilt brat", among other things.

The blogger, Miss Cheryl Seow, 21, a business management undergraduate at Australia's University of Queensland in Brisbane, wrote in a post on her blog that there were "disagreements among many Singaporeans" on a local forum about the Government's move to "loosen the immigration criteria" and approve "more PR applications".

She said that her father is a Singaporean while her Malaysian mother is, like her, a Singapore PR.

Miss Seow, who studied Business Enterprise IT at Nanyang Polytechnic, said that although she was born in Malaysia, she had been living in Singapore since she was a baby.

"I don't see how my Malaysian mum and I had no contributions to Singapore's society for the past 20- over years. At least, our shopping taxes fed a lot of Singaporeans!" she wrote.

"Some Singaporeans commented on a forum that Singapore is no longer a country nor a city, it's now a rich men's playground.

"Hello sir, you're only saying that because you're not one of the players. Blame it on your own poverty. I feel sorry for you."

Her blog can now be accessed only by invited readers, but her comments have been posted on sociopolitical website The Real Singapore and citizen journalism website Stomp, along with pictures of her posing in front of a Ferrari sports car at her home in Singapore, and hugging her Caucasian boyfriend.

Netizens who read her comments were outraged and called her a "spoilt brat" and a "disgusting Malaysian".

Many mentioned her wealthy background and said she had no right to criticise the "working class".

Miss Seow has since posted an apology on The Real Singapore website, explaining that her post was written three years ago and has no relevance today.

She added that her comment about "poor Singaporeans" was directed solely at a "random Singaporean" complaining about Malaysians and Chinese nationals in Singapore.

But she conceded that her post was "badly written" and could have been "easily misread to seem like it was directed at all Singaporeans".

Businessman father

Miss Seow's father is a successful businessman who is believed to be in the plastics industry.

When The New Paper visited her house in the Serangoon area on Wednesday, a woman who identified herself as Miss Seow's mother, Madam Jenny Fong, answered through an intercom.

She said she was aware of her daughter's post, which was "written years ago". She declined to comment further.

Madam Fong is a familiar face at high society events and her pictures are featured on the online portals of Singapore Tatler and Luxury Insider.

A neighbour who wanted to remain anonymous said he was aware of the online storm.

He said he does not know much about Miss Seow, but he finds her parents to be very friendly neighbours.

"They always smile and say 'hi' whenever we meet them," he said.

Miss Seow's boyfriend, Mr Lachlan Cuffe, declined to comment when TNP phoned him.

Attempts to reach Miss Seow on Facebook were unsuccessful.

I'm sorry, post was misunderstood: Blogger

While conceding that her blog post "might have upset some people", Miss Cheryl Seow felt that it has been misunderstood by many readers and "taken out of context".

Writing to The Real Singapore website to apologise for "some insensitivity in my post and for offending some people who I didn't mean to", she said: "My father is a Singaporean, most of my friends are Singaporean, and my boyfriend at that time is a Singaporean too. There is no reason for me to hate Singaporeans."

Her post was a "mere response" to a forum thread in which a Singaporean was complaining about Malaysian and Chinese nationals in Singapore, she said.

"(The comment) was insulting to foreigners and I thought it was unfair.

"I feel that the whole controversy arose from misreading and selective reading. I also understand that the post might have upset some people which caused them to only misunderstand it further."

She said her comments which many found offensive were directed solely at "that person and nobody else".

Easily misread

"I admit that the original post was badly written and was easily misread to seem like it was directed at all Singaporeans when it was not," Miss Seow said.

"As soon as I discovered people were misreading the post, I deleted it, but by that time it had already caused controversy and the post had been copied around the Internet... "My original post referred to the person I was blogging about being poor because he was complaining about all the rich foreigners in Singapore and I was defending them (the rich and foreign people) - using myself and my mother as examples."

Miss Seow was upset that an "irrelevant blog" she wrote three years ago had resurfaced. "I am just going to let this be and you can say whatever you want but I think it reflects more about you than me..

"For those who stayed objective and said something about it, thank you very much. For the others, I just wish to carry on with my own life and so should you," she said.

Get The New Paper for more stories.