SINGAPORE: Dr Paul Tambyah, the chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party, posted a video on Thursday (May 9) encouraging the public to give feedback on the proposed Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill.

Posting a link to a detailed description of the Bill, the SDP chairman wrote that he has recently done so.

In his video, Prof Tambyah discussed three points that he would like to see in the Bill that he believes would ensure that racial harmony in Singapore is preserved in the future.

The first would be to allow all children, regardless of their mother tongue, to attend any school in Singapore – particularly, he underlined, the schools that provide specialized programs such as the gifted education program (GEP).

Dr Tambyah’s second point involves the Housing & Development Board’s Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), a policy that stipulates the ratio of flats within neighborhoods for various ethnic groups.

He said that the EIP should be made race-neutral “rather than prescribing the specific proportions of each ethnic group, no one ethnic group should be allowed to form more than an arbitrary figure, perhaps 85 per cent, of a neighborhood.”

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“This should be regardless of race to ensure that no enclaves of any race, are formed,” he added.

For his third point, he quoted from the REACH document, which says that the Bill recognizes that there are elements of Singapore’s political system that already have a racial element to them, including the need for minority representation, which is ingrained in the Group Representation Constituencies and Reserved Presidential Election.

The SDP chair said that it may be good to “expand this further” through reserved key appointments, such as the chief of defence force or the Chief Justice. Should a particular ethnic group not be represented in either of these positions for “four or five successive appointments, perhaps the next appointment could be reserved for that particular ethnic group,” Dr Tambyah said.

“Similarly, perhaps we could have group representative ministries. We could ensure that each group of ministries, for example—a cluster of Finance, Trade and Industry, and Manpower—would always have at least one member of a minority race at the Permanent Secretary or Deputy Secretary level.

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“This would help to ensure representation at the highest levels of the civil service similar to representation we have come to expect during election campaigns” he added.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is seeking feedback on the proposed Maintenance of Racial Harmony Bill, as well as related measures. The consultation period is from Apr 16 to June 11, 2024. /TISG