I will be cooking a pot of Thai Panang (chicken or fish, I've not quite decided) Curry on August 20th at 10pm here in Eugene, OR, USA in solidarity with the others in Singapore who intend to cook curries of different stripes August 21st Singapore time.
Many of those doing the same will probably be doing it for many different reasons. For my part, I will be expressing myself as a global citizen. I will allow the smell to waft out through the back patio door. If my neighbors do not like it, they will talk to me about it and I will engage them, as mature adults should. For me, it will be a non-issue, after all I do not take Panang as a staple and even if I do, I'm sure we can come to amicable solutions.
My take on this whole sordid affair is that it was an inappropriate, even stupid, attempt on the part of someone to toot their horns in the public media using what was, in fact, a really lousy example. I am surprised they did not review the material and on a second read, realized their story had a massive WTF/"aiyaiyai" moment behind it.
I am more than willing to believe the two families had come to an amicable agreement (timing, the use of fans, letting each other know ... etc ... ). The "authorities" did not need to make the "incident" sound as if it were a resounding success story of their "mediation" and "integration" programs. I mean, why could they not simply have said "We have volunteers who are trained to help mediate in disputes and we encourage folks who find it hard to resolve a problem on their own to contact us for help" and just leave it as that.
Well, their back-patting exercise backfired and frankly, I'm glad it did. I'm glad it riled up enough people to take note of it, get annoyed enough to then poke some fun at the expense of the "authorities". As with all issues with a strong emotional backdrop, there will be people who are riled up for the wrong reasons, perhaps adding to the problems of mounting tensions toward immigrants who come to our country. However, I am a strong believer in free speech. I believe these people, probably in the minority, should be allowed to say what they wish. At the same time, the rest of us also have a right to speak up whenever there are unfair or inflammatory statements and say "No, that is not right, we should not be feeling this way."
As I've said, I was annoyed by the initial description of how things were "resolved" but I am inclined to accept the clarifications made by Shanmugam. I would like to think the two families worked things out. If one takes a step back and think about it, these are just simple things that people need to do as mature adults and private citizens in a civilized society living in a high-density environment (and with tons of artificial mobility restrictions imposed on people by the government - one cannot "simply move away" to reduce tensions).
Anyway, enough of my rant ... in 24 hours time, I get to enjoy my very yummy curry! Pictures will be forthcoming.
Update: 8/28/2011 - Photos!!