QLRS: On the Subject of Race

Malay Sketches by Alfian Sa'at

My review of Alfian Sa’at’s Malay Sketches is now up on the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS).

On the Subject of Race
Alfian Sa’at sketches what it is like to be Malay in Singapore


Henry   Do you know what you can say? To a black man. On the subject of race.
Charles   “Nothing.”
Henry   That is correct.

– David Mamet, Race, Samuel French: New York, 2010.


Two years ago, a couple of friends and I watched the premiere of Charged by Chong Tze Chien, a play with a National Service setting that explores tensions between the Malay and Chinese communities in Singapore.

Those I watched the play with were ethnic Chinese Singaporean, English-educated professionals with an upper-middle/lower-upper class background. I am an ethnically mixed (Chinese-Indian), English-educated professional with a middle-class background.

When the play ended, I exited the theatre with this unspoken sentiment: This was a great play that more ethnic Chinese Singaporean people need to watch so that they know how minorities in Singapore feel. And true enough, my friends had this to say collectively when we discussed the production over drinks: This was a great play – and we didn’t know Singaporean Malays felt that way.


About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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