Amy Cheong "Malay wedding" comment (2012)

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A screengrab of Amy Cheong's FB post that was published on 7 October 2012. Photo from Yahoo! News.

In 2012, a Singapore Permanent Resident by the name of Amy Cheong made controversial remarks regarding Malay void deck weddings in Singapore. These comments were made on her personal Facebook page. At the time of the comment, she was working as an Assistant Director (Membership Department) in the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). Her remark gained a great amount of attention from Singaporeans and led to her dismissal from NTUC.

Details of the Incident[edit | edit source]

On 7 October 2012, Amy Cheong took to Facebook to lament about the noise caused by Malay weddings held at void decks of housing estates.[1] Her post contained expletives, and she had also commented on the fact that Malay weddings only cost “50 bucks”. She then asserted that the allegedly high divorce rates in Singapore were attributed to the cheap nature of Malay void deck weddings, stating that these weddings were not "real weddings".[2]

Escalation of incident[edit | edit source]

The disparaging remarks caused many members of the Malay community as well as Singaporeans in general to feel offended. A petition calling for the termination of Amy Cheong’s employment appeared on the Facebook page "Stop Racism in Singapore" (Facebook page) on 8 October 2012. It has garnered 18,000 likes as of 21 January 2019.[3] Within a day of her controversial Facebook post, Amy Cheong was removed from her job position in NTUC.[4]


On 8 October 2012, NTUC Secretary General and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Lim Swee Say addressed the matter during an interview (Youtube video) with Singapore Press Holdings at an event in Pei Chun Public School. He stated that the action taken was a hard decision for him to make, knowing that the impact on Amy Cheong would be great. However, he asserted that one of the core values of NTUC is inclusiveness, and Amy Cheong had failed to uphold this core value. He also appealed to members of the public to try and forgive Amy Cheong for her mistake.[5] On the same day of her dismissal, a job opening for Amy Cheong’s exact position was being advertised on Jobstreet.com, a popular website for those seeking employment in Singapore.


Amy Cheong herself also posted an official public apology on her personal Facebook page. She apologised for her actions and lapse in judgement. She reiterated that she did not intend to upset the Malay community with her comment, and that she was just unhappy with the noise caused by the Malay wedding taking part at the void deck in her housing estate.[6] She then deleted her page.


Amy Cheong returned to Perth, Australia, following the termination of her employment by NTUC.[7]

Lionel de Souza police report[edit | edit source]

A police report was filed against Amy Cheong by grassroots leader Lionel de Souza, who is the secretary of the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle in Hougang.[8] A spokesman for the Singapore Police Force confirmed that the final verdict with regards to this incident was made in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, and that the police have administered a stern warning to Amy Cheong for an offence under Section 298A (b) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. According to the Penal Code of Singapore, Amy Cheong's comment was an "act... prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious or racial groups and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility".[9]

The cover of Hidayah Amin's book titled "Malay Weddings Don't Cost $50" (2014). Photo from hida-amin.blogspot.com.

Responses[edit | edit source]

Politicians[edit | edit source]

On 8 October 2012, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong personally addressed the situation in a Facebook post. He commended NTUC for taking swift action in removing Amy Cheong from her position, and affirmed Amy Cheong’s prompt public apology. He reminded members of the public to treat this incident as an isolated case that does not mirror the stability of Singapore’s racial and religious relations. He also prompted Singaporeans to pay more heed to their actions and words, both online and in person.[10]


Former Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin also expressed his views on the issue on his personal Facebook page. In his post also dated 8 October 2012, he asserted that racial and religious activities such as “burning of offerings, void deck funerals and weddings, increased parking during Friday prayers or Sunday morning worship”, are all integral parts of Singapore's social fabric. He reminded all Singaporeans to be proud of Singapore's social diversity and more accepting of different cultures.[11]


Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, both agreed that Amy Cheong’s comments were unacceptable, and affirmed NTUC’s decision to terminate Amy Cheong. They stated the punishment highlighted to the Singapore public that actions which could potentially threaten the country's racial harmony would not be tolerated.[12]

Malay Weddings Don't Cost $50 And Other Facts About Malay Culture by Hidayah Amin[13][edit | edit source]

A book titled "Malay Weddings Don't Cost $50 And Other Facts About Malay Culture" was published in 2014. The author, Hidayah Amin, stated in the preface of the book that Amy Cheong’s infamous “How can society allow ppl to get married for 50 bucks” remark regarding Malay weddings inspired her to title the book as such.


The author explained that the Amy Cheong incident could have been avoided, if Amy Cheong had a better understanding of the Malay culture and traditions. She also expressed that her book was written with the intention of enabling readers to gain deeper knowledge of the Malay culture, and hoped that it would help to bridge racial differences.

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. Tan, Jeanette. “NTUC fires Assistant Director for racist comments”. Yahoo!News. October 8, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/ntuc-assistant-director-says-sorry-for-racist-post.html
  2. Ibid.
  3. Stop Racism in Singapore. October 8, 2012. Facebook. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/172719476182161/posts/this-is-a-petition-to-remove-amy-cheong-from-the-post-of-assistant-director-of-n/265106116943496/
  4. Channel News Asia. "NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say: Firing Amy Cheong Was One of the Most Difficult Decisions". October 9, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Facebook. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/notes/channel-newsasia/ntuc-chief-lim-swee-say-firing-amy-cheong-was-one-of-the-most-difficult-decision/10151292389877845/
  5. Channel News Asia. "NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say: Firing Amy Cheong Was One of the Most Difficult Decisions". October 9, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Facebook. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/notes/channel-newsasia/ntuc-chief-lim-swee-say-firing-amy-cheong-was-one-of-the-most-difficult-decision/10151292389877845/
  6. Durai, Jennani. “NTUC assistant director sacked for racist remarks”. The Straits Times. October 9, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ntuc-assistant-director-sacked-for-racist-remarks
  7. Lim, Joyce. “Racist rant: Amy Cheong gets stern warning from police”. The Straits Times. March 25, 2013. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/racist-rant-amy-cheong-gets-stern-warning-from-police
  8. Lim, Joyce. “Racist rant: Amy Cheong gets stern warning from police”. The Straits Times. March 25, 2013. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/racist-rant-amy-cheong-gets-stern-warning-from-police
  9. Attorney-General's Chambers (SG)."Penal Code (Chapter 224)". Singapore Statues Online. Accessed on 15 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871#pr298A-
  10. Lee Hsien Loong. October 8, 2012. Facebook. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/leehsienloong/posts/422356847827027
  11. Tan Chuan Jin. Facebook. October 8, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/TanChuanJin1/posts/as-i-write-this-prayers-from-masjid-omar-kampong-melaka-our-oldest-mosque-in-sin/449224841786963/
  12. Ho, Derrick. “PM Lee, ministers condemn racist remarks on Facebook”. The Straits Times. October 8, 2012. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from:   https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/pm-lee-ministers-condemn-racist-remarks-on-facebook
  13. "About this book". Select Books Online. Accessed on 21 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/getTitle.aspx?SBNum=057617