We actually started by giving these two the benefit of the doubt and expressed concerns when they shared about their experiences being discriminated. But when they started to be shifty and seems more focused on breeding animosity than making sure the issue doesn’t happen again, we decided to check further if they were trolls.
Trolls are only successful if we let them get to us. By taking the initiative to call them out first, people can know the nature of these accounts when reading their comments and learn to ignore them.
According to @Sharonliew86 bio, she loves things like SGAG, singing karaoke and head over to Johor Bahru every once in a while. Oh, and she loves visiting Bangkok with her Malay friend too, but she’s sian (Hokkien for bored or frustrated) that the friend can only eat halal food. A glimpse at her Twitter feed easily reveals her basic AF personality, despite her actually being outspoken about heavy issues. Her eccentric commentary ranges a wide spectrum of topics, from Singapore’s race relations to National Day Parade; But what’s clear is that Sharon Liew has very low EQ and a chasmic misunderstanding of the culture of Singaporean minorities. Thus her insensitive and racist comments, complete with misspellings and factual errors. Further checks show that Sharon is actually a troll well known for her bigotry. She even has a forum page dedicated to her on hardwarezone and a coconuts article.
For Sephia Farid, her account is new (just joined October 2017), there is nothing in her bio to suggest anything, she has no friends and has a total of 4 posts on her timeline, of which three were on racism and ‘abuse of power’. She skillfully weaved in elements of racial discrimination in her daily activities and her engagements on her page serve to trigger these emotions further.
Her latest post about being rejected a government agency job interview because she was wearing a hijab triggered more than a hundred likes and comments.
Despite netters urging her to make a report to MOM and TAFEP, to name the agency and even to share more about what the interviewers said exactly so that we can have a better context and help her out, she remained tight-lipped and explained that she does not want to implicate the government. She keeps harping on the tudung issue and goes round and round in circles, trapping and frustrating people who actually showed concern for her in her endless feeling of bitterness.
She however was quick to associate the hijab with Madam Halimah when given half the opportunity. This is hardly the behaviour of a person who is seeking a redress. It is the behaviour of a troll who wants to attract attention and trigger a backlash against the government in society.
We generally love troll accounts because their posts are smart, witty and funny. But accounts like Sharon and Sephia infuriates me because they masquarade as real persons and try to drive a wedge in our multi-racial society by stoking the racial discrimination angle. Their posts also gives an opportunity for alternative platforms to gather ‘cheap’ eyeballs for their sites traffic (which then drives the negative sentiments further).
Some in our society are smart enough to remain calm, but there are also some who believe that this is true and this affects their relationship with the other races (conflating with other negative sentiments that they already have about their current situation).
A troll can only succeed if we let them affect us. It is time for us to call these accounts out. No point letting them cry wolf because no one will believe the real cases of discrimination in future.