Name: cast aspersions on Malays. (Ho & Aw, 2016)

Name: Mak Poh Luan Irene

Student number: s10179212D

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Class (T17)


Module (7COMMISS)

Communication and
Contemporary Issues

Racism in Singapore


Ms Fernandez Cordelia

in Singapore

1 Introduction

Singapore comprises of 76.2% Chinese,
15% of Malays, 7.4% of Indians and a minority of Eurasians and is well known
for being an ethnically diverse country where majority of the population would
see themselves as accepting. Every Singaporean pledges to treat others with
respect regardless of race, language or religion. Despite so, racism is still present in
Singapore. There is a distinct form of inequality and discrimination as the Malays
are recognised as the indigenous community and the Chinese heritage enjoy an apparent
preferential treatment over those with Indian or Malay backgrounds. This report
will present information and evidences of racism in Singapore, including the causes
and consequences of racism, along with measures to limit racism in Singapore.


in us. In contrary sg no racist?

in us becoming better, sg becoming worse


Examples of racism in Singapore

2.1 Racism at Prima Deli interview on April

Ms Sarah, was interviewing for a role as
an icing chef at well-known halal bakery, Prima Deli, was told that she
couldn’t take up the role due to her race. She was surmised to be uncapable of
performing the required tasks as a Malay. The interviewer had also cast aspersions
on Malays. (Ho & Aw, 2016)

2.2 Amy Cheong’s Facebook post on October

 Amy Cheong, assistant director of membership
at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), made a Facebook post disparaging
Malays for what she perceived to be low-cost, noisy and lengthy void-deck
weddings. She also mocked their divorce rate. This incident sparked off a huge
commotion online, causing Miss Amy Cheong to soon be fired from her job. (Lim, 2013)


Causes of racism

3.1 Disproportion
of races

Constituted by many races, the differences
in cultures and languages are bound to cause misunderstandings and disputes
between races in Singapore. Such differentiations may cause disharmony amongst
races as the enmity between them rises. The disproportion of different races in
Singapore may consequently create disharmony between races, fostering racism in

Increase in the number of foreign workers

Work permit holders make up the largest
group of foreigners working in Singapore, and have greatly contributed to the
survival of our economy. However, Singaporeans still seem passive about
accepting migrant workers wholeheartedly and are uncomfortable with the idea of
mass-importing foreigners to solve the low birth rate problem in Singapore. This
implies that Singaporeans are prejudiced against foreigners which might spark
racism in Singapore.

(, 2013)  (,, n.d.) (,, n.d.)


3.3 People are very insensitive

People often expatiate without pondering
aptly. Amy Cheong and Shrey Bhargava who both made sensitive comments online regarding
racism, ended up apologising for their impulsive actions after their posts
sparked off huge online commotions. They faced consequences for their reckless
decisions. Amy Cheong was fired from her job and Shrey Bhargava was slammed for
using the race card online. Such examples conclude that many are thoughtless
about their actions, stirring up racism in Singapore. (Chew, Lui, & Lam, 2017) (Lim, 2013)


Consequences of racism in Singapore

4.1 Segregation in society

Ethnic identity has a protective
function which becomes increasingly less necessary as various kinds of societal
integration occur for members of minority and immigrant groups. Ethnic identity
can hence be viewed as a kind of protective psychological shield helping
individuals to cope with challenging external circumstances such as
discrimination or economic disadvantage. Having a protective and adaptive
shield may result in the members of minority and immigrant groups to shun from
the majority, causing segregation in the society.  (Reitz, Breton, Dion, & Dion,


 4.2 Social tension

On 8th
December 2013, a riot broke out at little India. The incident raised an online
debate on the issue of inflation of migrant workers in Singapore. It highlighted the ongoing ethnic tensions within Singapore
including the less privileged living conditions of migrants and the heavy
reliance of Singapore on migrants. This exemplifies that racism could bring about ethnic social tensions in
Singapore. (,,
2013) (Hui, 2014) (Mohamed,


4.3 Lack of productivity

An average of 400 complaints of alleged
discriminatory workplace practices were received each year between 2011 and
2015. Some of which were due to the discrimination of race or religion which
hence unveils that discrimination can damage social dynamics in the workplace
and society which represents the lack of productivity in Singapore. (NewsAsia, 2016)


Measures to help limit racism in Singapore

5.1 Encourage different races to live in
the same environment

5.1.1 Ethnic integration policy in Housing
and Development Board (HDB)

On 16 February 1989, the Ethnic
Integration Policy. Ethnic quotas for HDB neighbourhoods and blocks were
established to ensure a racial mix in HDB estates. Living together in one
common neighbourhood builds rapport and understanding between races, limiting
racism in Singapore. (,

5.1.2 Community centres

Community centres are where people of
different races and age come together to attend activities together. At the CommaCon,
a national youth convention organised by the Association of Muslim
Professionals on October 2016, youths of all races came together to discuss
issues such as racism and social divide. Having a common space like the
community centre allows people of all races to mingle and bond, effectively limiting
racism in Singapore. (Yong, 2017)


5.2 Removing the language and cultural

Recent psychological accounts reveal
that language is a fundamental element in emotion that is constitutive of both
emotion experiences and perceptions. Language plays a role in emotion and
scaffolds concept knowledge in humans, helping humans acquire concepts. By
removing the language barrier between races, people can better perceive culture
and knowledge about other races, efficaciously eliminating racism in Singapore.
(Lindquist, MacCormack, & Shablack, 2015)


5.2.1 Having English as a first language in

With many spoken languages in Singapore,
having a common language is very important. The
Singapore’s language policy which emphasis on using English was set up since
1959. English has taken over Mandarin as the most used language at home since
2011 and is evidently the most commonly used language in Singapore today.
(Lee, 2016)

5.2.2 Learning a 3rd language in school

There is a total of eight 3rd language
programme introduced to students in secondary schools. Students of different
races can learn each other’s mother tongue language, and communicate with them more
cordially. This eliminates the language barrier between different races. (Education, n.d.)

5.3 Celebrating racial harmony in

Studies have shown that child’s cortex
begins operating at adult activity levels at the age of four and its brain is
more active than an adult’s. “If we teach our children early enough, it
will affect the organization or ‘wiring’ of their brains.”, said biophysicist,
Michael Phelps. It is hence easier to instil knowledge in a young child. By
celebrating racial harmony in school, one can learn to respect and get along
with other races better as their brain is still developing. (Board,
(Nadia, 1993)


6 Conclusion

the disproportion of races, increase in the number of foreign workers and
insensitivity of people may trigger racism in Singapore, causing segregation
between people, and consequently, social tension, lack of productivity in
Singapore. Removing the language barrier between races, living together in one
environment and celebrating racial harmony day, may limit racism in Singapore. However,
despite the extant of prevalent measures to eliminate racism in Singapore, repercussions
prevail. It is evident that additional means must be effectuated. Singapore




Are foreign worker riots in Singapore becoming endemic