This a very interesting post. I am a foreigner, an Ang Moh, as many in Singapore like to say.
Discrimination certainly abounds at just about every turn in this country and it is highly reflective in the job markets, in particular when HR is staffed only with Chinese, that should speak in and of itself. HR predominately holds the power to hiring and even promoting in most companies here. What does that tell you when the majority are the only ones that hold those important positions?
When you open a newspaper and despite English being the official language of exchange in Singapore, a significant portion of jobs demand Mandarin-speaking applicants.
Now children learn English from the time they enter school. Very few people in Singapore cannot converse in English. Usually, the ones that can’t are foreigners or from a much older generation.
Then, I notice now that at all these Indian coffee shops I walk by, there is now this one odd Chinese person working there? Yet, it appears there is no law the HR departments need to hire more minorities? Yet now, minority owned business MUST hire a certain ratio from the majority.
When I look around at housing policies, how life is structured here and even something as simple as the provision of social services, society is very-much ethnically motivated. That is, most important decisions are made in the context of race.
For a society that is supposed to be so forward thinking, I see just the opposite in all of these policies, both written and unspoken, but drawn upon what is already codified in the law.
Personally, I find such policies and ways of conducting business counter-productive. I don’t buy the lame excuse of Singapore “needing” racial policies to mitigate potential unrest. Singapore passed that danger long ago, but, the longer these policies stay in effect, the better the chances of that unrest actually resurfacing at some point in the future, particularly, in the likely event of a major, global market correction that causes unemployment to approach double digits. And yes, that is an eventuality, regardless of domestic government policy.
Therefore, no matter what race you are, if you are Singaporean, I would recommend everyone getting on the same page and demanding the dispensing of racial based policies, both codified and unspoken, in order to preserve the future of the nation.
Singapore is a democracy and, citizens have the ability to change things at the voting box. If you can’t reason with the ruling parties and get them to realize the grave error of these policies, or even considering alternative point-of-view, then fire those officials at the next election and replace them with officials who have a better insight into the future of Singapore, one that offers a truly inclusive, integrated society.
After-all, regardless of ethnicity, human beings are far more alike than different. As a matter-of-fact, the differences between race is so trivial that over time, those differences will disappear. As much as Singapore prides itself on the secular and scientific, it seems that many here do not understand that from a biological perspective, race simply does not exist. Instead, it is a sociocultural construct. With globalization, these constructs are merging at a lightening pace.
The question should be: “Does Singapore want to be left behind?”
If not, then the nation, ALL its people and its leaders have a lot of work to do in this area.
Editor’s Note: This article appears as a comment under the blog post – Yes, discriminatory hiring practices exist in Singapore