Curry Dispute in Singapore

An incident that occurred in 2004, a dispute between a migrant family from China and a Singaporean Indian family over the smell of curry.

Out of consideration, the Indian family would shut their windows and doors whenever they cooked curry. However, the Chinese family deemed this measure insufficient and suggested to not cook curry at all. The Indian family disagree with this request and both families then approached the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) for help in resolving the disagreement. The settlement concluded that the Indian family would cook curry only when their Chinese neighbours were out and in turn, the Chinese family must try the curry dish.

On 8 August 2011, Today published a news featuring the curry dispute. Some netizens expressed their disgruntlement and anger over the “unfair” outcome and was viewed as unacceptable behaviour that was contrary to Singapore’s multiracial society.

The government responded that, the CMC mediator in the curry dispute had been incorrectly represented by Today and was meant to be neutral and an independent party. One of the families had in fact suggested the final resolution, which was accepted by the other family. Today later published an article acknowledging the misinformation. Minister for Law K. Shanmugam commented positively on the strong community spirit demonstrated by the people from different races and cultures who had united to affirm the Singaporean national identity and to vocalise their condemnation of the disparagement of local Indian culture.

Public Responses

Netizen Michelle Teo uploaded a 3-minute long video on YouTube titled ‘Please Respect Curry’

Netizen Florence Leow and friends created the Facebook page, ‘Cook and Share a Pot of Curry’ campaign. The event encouraged Singaporeans to cook curry at home on 21 August 2011 and invited foreigners to share in the repast as a way “to celebrate curries as part of our way of life and to share this celebration with those who are new to our shores”.

Creative producer Nicholas Chee, a local film ‘One Hour to Daylight’, was a part of the Singapore Writers Festival’s 2016 programme.

A group of ITE College West students initiated a neighbourhood curry-cooking competition under the Housing Development Board’s Good Neighbour Project.

We are celebrating National Curry Day, this August 2021 with a..


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