First of all, massive sexual assault trigger warning. This post is related to convicted sex offender Eisen Teo Guan Kuan.
Our entire country is one big safe space for socio-economically privileged, cisgender, heterosexual Chinese and ang moh men. Women, racial minorities, the working class, LGBTQ people, and, more generally, anti-establishmentarians are regularly “cancelled” and “de-platformed.” What some deem to be cancel culture is, in fact, the rest of us saying enough; it is the collective expression of a willingness to speak back to those whose wealth and power give them an inordinate amount of control on us and into our lives.
In the 2020 election, Raeesah Khan’s old Facebook posts calling out law enforcement and the legal system for more favourably treating rich Chinese and white people than others sparked furore, followed by a police investigation on the grounds that Raeesah had promoted racial “enmity”. Raeesah understandably issued an apology. But she was not wrong. This country is full of double standards. Whether we dare state it or not, the clear-eyed among us know this to be true. I am not running for office, nor am I concerned with maintaining any semblance of respectability or acceptability. Besides, the relative anonymity of my pseudonym “Gopal” also affords me a degree of safety. So I will state it very clearly: our institutions, including the police and the legal system, discriminate on the basis of race, wealth, and power.
By now, I hope that most readers will be thoroughly familiar with the gaslighting that establishmentarians love employing against us when they are faced with even the feeblest attempts at accountability. Raeesah Khan calls out institution racism? Well, she’s a racist! Preetipls and Subhas Nair create a magistral parody of an actually deeply racist advertisement? Well, they’re racists! People deplatform Xiaxue for propagating racism and xenophobia? Cancel culture!
As @ikanselarkuning (whom everyone should follow, by the way) accurately writes, “‘cancel culture’ hysteria isn’t new to us. Tied to S’pore’s siege mentality, moral panics pervade our history.” Under whatever name it has taken in the past, this hysteria is a tool designed to suppress dissent and discipline those who dare to challenge the status quo in search for justice.
So it comes as no surprise to me that Eisen Teo Guan Kuan, convicted in 2014 at the age of 29 for grooming and raping a child, would claim to be “distraught” and cry about being “cancelled” and call upon his lawyers to threaten a Twitter user for stating a series of facts. His lawyer’s threatening letter, which I reproduce at the end of this post, states that “your [the Twitter user’s] calls to ‘cancel’ our client […] is […] misguided and prejudiced.” His lawyers add that “should you choose to stay your course, then our client will have no choice but to take further action, purely to protect himself – especially if such labels are inaccurate and wrongful.”
There are two important points to clarify.
Firstly, the Twitter user was not seeking to “cancel” Eisen. They were pointing out that the fact that a convicted child rapist has over 3000 followers and a book with a reputable publisher actually suggests that “cancel culture” is not real. In addition, they called on others to stop giving Eisen a platform. This is not an expression of some arbitrary, irrational “cancel culture,” or mob mentality, but a refusal to provide a platform to rapists of children.
Just in case, it’s not clear, let me spell it out: Eisen, despite all appearances to the contrary, was a full-grown 29-year-old man who crafted an insidious plan to groom a child and coerce her into intercourse. For this, he faced three charges, each of which carried a maximum sentence of ten years. In the end, he was sentenced to jail for eighteen months. What do you think his sentence would have been if he were not a privileged cisgender, heterosexual Chinese Singaporean?
You don’t actually have to guess. For comparison, an Indian national was sentenced last year to thirteen years in jail and twelve strokes of the cane for grooming a child to “engage in progressively intrusive sexual acts with him over a period of three months.” As a prison abolitionist, I am not suggesting that imposing harsher sentences across the board is the way to go, but that there is a disparity in how the legal system treats different groups of people. This is indicative of a legal and carceral system that is less concerned with either justice for victims or reforming offenders than it is with preserving the privileges of the rich and powerful. Eisen can groom and rape a child, but as long as he serves his time (that pales in comparison to others) he can then claim to be reformed and allowed to take up a relatively privileged position in society again. In Singapore, it seems like you get second (and third and fourth…) chances, no matter what you do, as long as you fit a certain profile. When the Twitter user suggested denying such people a platform, they were articulating a much-needed critique of the existing power differential deeply embedded in the institutions of our society.
Secondly, nothing the Twitter user wrote about Eisen is “misguided,” “prejudiced,” “inaccurate,” or “wrongful,” as implied by Eisen’s lawyers.
For starters, Eisen is indeed ugly. This is an objective fact. I have conducted a robust, large-scale quantitative study on the subject and can only conclude that Eisen is the archetype of ugliness in most human societies.
He is also a pedophile. The pedo in pedophile comes from the Greek paidós, which means child. Eisen raped a child. Ergo, he is a pedophile.
Finally, he is without doubt a rapist and a predator. Have we not established that he raped a child?
The Twitter user who stated these plain and simple facts was then threatened with legal actions on the basis that “such labels are inaccurate and wrongful.” I totally understand the Twitter user’s decision to delete their tweets in order to avoid litigation and further harassment.
But I will happily state again and again that Eisen Teo is an ugly pedo rapist.
His lawyers may claim that he is “deeply remorseful and ashamed of his actions” and that he is “genuinely apologetic,” but sending his legal hounds to intimidate a Twitter user for stating facts displays his utter lack of remorse and shame.
These are not the actions of a man who is reformed. If he truly were reformed, he would have stopped to ask himself what concrete steps he could take to atone for his horrific actions. If he truly were apologetic, then he would not have lashed out against statements of fact. This is the mark of someone who believes that spending eighteen months in prison has now absolved him off all his responsibility to his past.
Well, Eisen, I’m sorry, but no amount of time in prison will erase the fact that you devoted a significant amount of time to putting into effect a plan to systematically groom a child in order to rape her. This alone would have been enough to make me personally avoid any form of collaboration with you. Coupled with your intimidation and silencing tactics, it compels me to call on all my friends, colleagues, comrades to deny you any platform, even if I know that realistically the cishet privileged Chinese boy always wins.