SINGAPORE: Minorities in Singapore bear a “direct and real” ethnic integration policy (EIP) financial burden for public housing, opposition leader Pritam Singh said on Saturday (June 26th).
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Singh responded to Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s speech and dialogue on Friday on race, racism and multiracialism.
On Friday, Mr. Wong delivered a speech and participated in a dialogue at a forum hosted by the Institute of Policy Studies and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
READ: ‘Take it one step further’ to make minorities feel comfortable, says Lawrence Wong in speech on racism in Singapore
The minister was asked about the PIA for social housing and whether it puts minorities at a disadvantage. Under the EIP, the owner of a dwelling of a minority race can only sell his apartment to another member of a minority race once the quota of the majority race has been reached.
Mr Wong said the policy was applied “consistently” to all ethnic groups and led to “social mix and integration” and a “sense of attachment, belonging and identity as Singaporeans “.
READ: Singapore has the right to worry about racist incidents because there is “always a risk” of regression on racial issues: Lawrence Wong
“What would happen without EIP?” I have no doubt that we will end up with ethnic enclaves in many of our housing estates, âhe said.
Mr Wong also acknowledged that there were minority homeowners who had difficulty selling their apartments due to the limitations of the EIP, adding that such cases may be appealed and will be considered at case by case.
People should recognize the value of EIP and work to “improve it, refine it, make it better”, rather than abandon it, the minister added.
THE ETHNIC INTEGRATION POLICY HAS “SERIOUS ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES”
On Saturday, Singh said that Mr. Wong’s speech and responses during the dialogue were “well worth reading, whatever your political leanings.”
“The issue at hand – race – affects everyone, especially Singaporeans and the new citizens who will come after us.”
Mr. Singh said that Mr. Wong’s “recognition” that not everyone agrees with some of the People’s Action Party (PAP) government’s long-standing policies was “particularly noteworthy.”
READ: In full – Speech by Lawrence Wong at IPS-RSIS Forum on Race and Racism in Singapore
The general secretary of the Workers’ Party (WP) said the EIP had “bothered” him and his colleagues.
âOver the years, we have heard our fair share of comments from minorities of all races having to lower the price of their apartments in order to make a sale. Minorities bear a direct and real financial burden on behalf of EIP.
“Mr. Wong’s tone and recognition of the problem goes far beyond any parliamentary statement on the issue made by the government in my recent memory,” Singh said.
However, Mr. Wong’s comments on the prospects for racial enclaves deserved “a second look,” he said. This was especially in light of the evolution of the region and the world since the introduction of the PIE in 1989, and of the âreality of immigration to supplement our populationâ.
âNational schools, institutions like (national service), the clustering of minority races in the lower floors of public housing in many cases despite the PIA, and even the potential effect of anti-discrimination legislation, are making a difference. EIP is one of a number of policy options to alleviate the current problem, âSingh said.
“Even so, as it stands, the injustice that PIE creates for some Singaporeans in the minority is real, distorts the market and has serious economic consequences.”
GRC SYSTEM A “TROY HORSE”
During his speech, Mr. Wong also expressed the view that the Group Representation System (GRC) was not necessary, as Singaporeans could be trusted to vote for the best candidates, regardless of who race and without the help of the RCMP.
Mr Wong said that instead of constituencies with an integrated majority of Indians and Malays, Singapore has the GRC system to ensure at least a minimum number of minority lawmakers in parliament.
“I respect the point of view of Singaporeans who think we are ready to go beyond race, and therefore think we no longer need the GRC system,” Wong said.
“But we are not yet completely immune to the siren calls of exclusive racial and cultural identities. We have not reached a ‘post-racial’ state either. Recent events have certainly confirmed our caution,” he added.
READ: Racism exists but Singapore has made huge strides in racial harmony – Shanmugam
On Saturday, Singh said the minister’s defense of the GRC system was “elegant in theory, but unconvincing in practice.”
âThe GRC program has long been overshadowed by political considerations in place, as it also serves a more important collateral purpose.
âWhat started out as three-member RCMP has quickly grown to six (now five). And the GRC program continues to be routinely abused on the altar of politics,â he said.
Mr. Singh added, “See how Fengshan became an SMC and was reinstated into the East Coast RCMP in one election cycle? And who can forget 2011’s Joo Chiat SMC? Why?”
Fengshan Single Member Constituency (SMC) was first formed as an electoral division in 1984 and reinstated into Bedok GRC before the 1991 general election. The SMC was then re-established before the 2015 general election and reinstated in the RCMP east coast ahead of the 2020 general election.
In 2011, PAP’s Charles Chong won Joo Chiat SMC with 51.02 percent of the vote in a contest with WP’s Yee Jenn Jong, who got 48.98 percent. The SMC was merged with Marine Parade GRC for the 2015 general election.
“One cannot help but conclude that in the case of the RCMP, the representation of minorities is a Trojan horse for the political objectives of the PAP,” Singh said.
âThe PM has come up with realistic institution building alternatives to pull Singapore out of this selfish quagmire.
“Removing the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) from the Prime Minister’s office and a more substantial EBRC report are important starting points,” he said, adding that the PM hoped the government would reconsider its position. on this subject.
READ: The Big Read – High time to talk about racism, but Singaporean society is ill-equipped after decades of taboo
Mr Singh said there was “a lot more to unbox” about Mr Wong’s speech, which came amid concerns about racism in Singapore following a recent wave of high-profile incidents .
“For example, is it true that the majority of Singaporeans today will inevitably vote racially?” asked Mr. Singh.
“Political issues and differences of opinion aside, Minister Wong’s speech sends the right signals,” he added.
âThe call to educate each other on what matters to us, to help each other understand our different cultures and find this common interest that we have in each other is important. C ‘is a call that transcends politics. “