The percentage of Singaporeans who think racism in their country is an important issue is growing. While 46.3% thought it was important in 2016, that number has risen to 56.2%. Channel News Asia and the Institute of Policy Studies reported these statistics after surveying more than 2,000 Singapore residents aged 21 and above. CNA says the survey questioned accurate numbers of people from Singapore’s various ethnic groups to appropriately represent the country’s makeup.
Even though 88.8% of respondents said it is important for political leaders to talk openly about racism, 58.6 per cent still said they felt like talking about it could create unnecessary tension. 54.9% of Chinese respondents feel that ethnic minorities are getting overly sensitive in discussions on race. That number is 42.7% for Indian respondents, and 47.8% for Malay respondents. Still, 71.6% feel that accommodating different cultural needs has not hurt national identity.
Race has long been a source of tension in Singapore. While the majority of the country’s population are ethnically Chinese, people of Indian and Malay origins make up minority groups. Last year, several incidents of Singaporeans making racist comments were highly publicised. One man was caught on camera making racist remarks to an interracial couple. Another video caught a woman making racist comments on a train.
After these incidents, Singapore’s Home Affairs and Law Minister said he was unsure if Singapore is “moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony”. One Singaporean academic said that even though Singapore has largely moved on from the violent racism it had in the past, there is a segment of the population who are uncomfortable being around those who are culturally different.