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IPS Report: Half of SG’s Indians and Malays feel racially discriminated against during job applications and promotions

Some 52 percent of Malay respondents, said they faced racial discrimination “sometimes”, “often”, “very often” and “always” when applying for a job in 2018 and 47 percent of Indian respondents felt the same in respect of job applications

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SINGAPORE — A survey by Singapore’s Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) has found that in 2018, around half of all Malays and Indians in Singapore felt discriminated against during job applications because of their race.

The report, entitled “Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony: Comparing Results from 2018 and 2013”, was published by researchers at IPS in July, thoroughly studied the results of two surveys on 4,015 Singaporean citizens’ and permanent residents’ sentiments towards issues revolving around race and religion, such as acceptance, discrimination and trust.

One of the surveys examined was previously administered between 2012 and 2013, and the other one is most recent, administered between 2018 and 2019. The results of both surveys were studied to record changes in public attitude toward race and religion over a five-year period of time.

The report stated that the survey had a “good representation” of common religions in Singapore (including respondents who did not follow any particular religion) and approximately equal numbers of respondents with differing levels of educational attainment.

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Minority races were sampled so their responses could be better analysed, the report said, but the final results were weighted to properly represent different nationalities.

The IPS’ survey found that in the five years between 2013 and 2018, more Singaporeans developed close friendships in and outside of work with those of other races, and terms of age groups, millennials were the most open to having friends of a different race.

In general, the results showed that Singaporeans displayed high levels of inter-racial and religious trust and acceptance.

90 percent of the survey respondents reported experiencing no discrimination at public institutions such as schools, hospitals or from the police or social service agencies.

However, the IPS survey did note an increase from 2013 to 2018 in perceived discrimination in relation to work, such as job applications and promotions, for certain racial minorities.

A little over half, or 52 percent of Malay respondents, said they faced racial discrimination “sometimes”, “often”, “very often” and “always” when applying for a job in 2018.

Almost half of Indian respondents, at 47 percent, also reported feeling racially discriminated against when it came to job applications.

Only 12 percent of Chinese respondents recorded the same sentiments.

Table: IPS Report on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony: Comparing Results from 2018 AND 2013

On the other side of the hiring process, over half of the respondents said they still considered race as an important factor “always”, “sometimes” or “most of the time” when making hiring decisions.

Table: IPS Report on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony: Comparing Results from 2018 AND 2013

When it came to promotions at work, Malay and Indian survey respondents felt similarly discriminated against because of their race.

Around half of Malay respondents, at 51 percent, and nearly half of Indian respondents, at 45 percent, said they felt racially discriminated “sometimes”, “often”, “very often” and “always” when it came to job promotions in 2018.

Only 14 percent of Chinese respondents felt racially discriminated against when it came to promotions at work.

Table: IPS Report on Indicators of Racial and Religious Harmony: Comparing Results from 2018 AND 2013

Overall, the number of Malay and Indian respondents who felt racially discriminated against “sometimes”, “often”, “very often” or “always” rose between 2013 and 2018 by about an average of 5.5 percent.

On the other hand, the number of Chinese respondents who felt racially discriminated against went down by an average of 4 percent from 2013 to 2018.

The report concluded, however, that perceived workplace discrimination in Singapore was still considered to be “relatively low”, adding that the increase in perceived discrimination among minority races such as Indians and Malays could be caused by a “greater awareness of the presence of discriminatory behaviour in the workplace”. /TISG

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