by Khush Chopra
While I cannot agree more with the Prime Minister who said that Singapore must treasure its racial and religious harmony in a Facebook post on Sunday (July 21), it is the Prime Minister’s People’s Action Party (PAP) government who are guilty of making race and religion divisive fault lines in Singapore.
The question is whether the PAP Government practices what it preaches or do they speak with forked tongue?
Singaporean’s are still today not one united people despite 60 years of nation-building since 1959. Race and ethnic divisions have never been so pronounced in Singapore as they are today. The PAP Government is certainly responsible for engineering and maintaining the ethnic divide. Race-based politics and policies are not the way forward for Singapore.
There are many initiatives and policies that have been put forward by the PAP Government that emphasise and demarcate a worsening racial, ethnic and religious divide between the various communities in Singapore.
Deeds not words; Judge the PAP Government by their actions and the truth will make itself known to you.
Don’t get taken in by the PAP Government’s empty words. Look instead at what they in fact do. The place to start in identifying their deeds is in the policies they champion. Here are just some of the more obvious policies that entrench the racial and religious divide:
Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others (CMIO) classification system
The Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others (CMIO) classification system inducted into the National Registration Identity Cards (NRICs) of all Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents by the PAP Government for use to classify people by race has quite literally entrenched and demarcated us into static ethnic group silos with the net effect of preventing any possible fusion of the various ethnic groups in forging a common National Identity by the policies inherent division of people into 3 ethnic groups.
In Singapore racism is systemic in nature thanks to the PAP Government’s race-based segregation of Singapore society. One must acknowledge the highly racialised character and development of Singapore society along racial lines arising out of the CIMO racial classification system.
We need to acknowledge the distinctive segregated social worlds that have been created by this racial classification system.
The race classification model is irrelevant and unhelpful because the more you emphasise one’s ethnicity and the culture brought here from far away lands a long long time ago, the less opportunity and space we will have for a distinctive identity across ethnic groups to develop.
Another problem with this ethnic race-based approach to diversity through the CIMO classification system is its rigidity and inability to meaningfully include those like your kids who don’t fit into the model including mixed-race children.
The question to ask is whether the CIMO classification system lends itself towards the creation of a racially harmonious society or a divisive one?
Ethnicity Based Self-Help Groups
The ethnicity-based self-help groups policy also entrenched the divide into the CDAC, SINDA, MENDAKI and The Eurasian Association for no good reason. There is clearly an inherent contradiction between the idea of self-help groups and a unified approach to “national integration” or otherwise tackling common nationwide family dysfunctions and poverty not to mention the adverse effects on national unity that arises from a race-based approach.
Mother Tongue Language
The Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Policy is motivated by the socio-political objective to divide the people along racial and linguistic lines. Languages define identities and create communities and therefore cultures within them.
Why talk about treasuring harmony when you do what you can to entrench fault lines and division?
One entire Singapore ethnic groups forced marginalisation can be traced to the MTL and CIMO policies. By forcibly classifying most Peranakans as Chinese, Baba Nonya children were forced to learn Mandarin instead of their Baba Melayu mother tongue resulting in the forced sinofication of the Baba Nonya community and the existentialist crisis this ethnic group faces today. This is certainly not treasuring our racial harmony, is it?
Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs)
The Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) was justified and implemented in 1988 to allegedly ensure adequate minority representation but what it does instead more significantly is to politicise race and create an unnecessary race-based political system. The PAP has created the need for minority representation in the first place that they now say needs to be fixed by a race-based group representation political system. If we truly had the racial harmony the PAP says they treasure why is it that we need minority representation?
The need for a GRC is simply a symptom of a disease which the PAP spread.
Special Assistance Plan (SAP) School System
The Special Assistance Plan (SAP) School System which is indefensible for being the antithesis or exact opposite of the multiracial and multicultural Singapore the PAP pontificates in that these schools are bastions of mono-cultural “Chineseness” without any meaningful multiracial mix of students in these schools; creating an elite group of Chinese Mandarins. Where is the racial harmony in such schools?
Chinese Prime Minister Policy
The Chinese Prime Minister policy is just pure unadulterated institutionalised racism. The real question is to ask: why? Why do Singaporeans prefer the country’s top leaders to be of the same race as themselves if there is the treasured racial harmony the Prime Minister waxes lyrical about?
The race-based Presidency that the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Government championed again further entrenched race-based politics into the highest office in the land that then has led us to a remarkable inflection point in our nation’s history that simply does not inspire racial harmony in the least but rather has sowed racial discord with so many voicing their anger over the railroading of this Constitutional farce.
HDB Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP)
The HDB Ethnic Integration Policy(EIP) that mandates a quota for minorities in HDB estates, so as to prevent racial enclaves from forming would not have been necessary if the PAP Government has done its job in promoting our national identity instead of entrenching the divide between the people the way that they have deliberately and methodically created the problem in the first place to serve their diabolical self serving political interests.
From the policy examples, I have set out it is clear that the reality is that theirs is the politics of division with policies that do not go beyond race and religion but are squarely centred within these fault lines. Their policies do not disregard race they politicise race and religion every chance they get; deeds not words.
Let’s make no mistake about the hypocrisy of the fact that it was the PAP Government who were the chief architects in entrenching the race and religious fault lines to start with and continue to do so at every opportunity they get in the name of multiculturalism and diversity.
The PAP Government pay lip service to our National Identity championing instead of a divided “multicultural” future for Singapore.
It’s time to cut the Gordian knot that binds our identities with places we came from once upon a long time ago.
The more we identify as Chinese, Malay, Indian or any other racial group the less we identify ourselves as one united people regardless of race language or religion. It’s as simple as that
Race and ethnic divisions have never been so pronounced in Singapore as they are today with their divide and rule policies. Race-based politics is not the way forward.
Singaporeans must vote for a unified future.
This was first published on Khush Chopra’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.