Home News Pritam Singh: WP wants EIP removed when Singapore becomes race-neutral

Pritam Singh: WP wants EIP removed when Singapore becomes race-neutral

We still need the EIP (as) we work towards a race-blind society, and we endeavour to reach there and at some point hopefully we'll not need the EIP, he said.

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Singapore — Workers’ Party head and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh said in Parliament on Monday (Jul 5) that the WP aims for the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) to be removed one day, when the country becomes race-netural.

The LO had been in a debate with Mr Desmond Lee, the Minister of National Development, concerning the policy. The EIP states that there are specific quotas in a block or precinct to be owned by each racial group.

Mr Lee questioned the WP head on what seems to be a change in their stance, citing that the party had said in its election manifesto in 2006 that Singapore was already multicultural and was calling for the policy’s immediate abolition.

“The Workers Party’s position today, in 2021, is that we still need the EIP (as) we work towards a race-blind society, and we endeavour to reach there and at some point hopefully we’ll not need the EIP. So that is a clear change in political position,” said the Minister.

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He went on to ask if it is the WP’s position that there would not be any “racial concentrations” if the EIP is abolished. 

The LO answered by saying that the WP’s stance is reflective of on-ground sentiments from minorities who cannot sell their flats., and volleyed back with another question to Mr Lee.

“The question is, is the EIP the only policy, among a whole gamut of policies that the Government has to encourage racial integration? Bearing in mind that it is a pre-emptive policy introduced in 1989,” Mr Singh said.

He added that the call to review the policy is in the context of the following points: the larger context of race relations in Singapore, the effect of immigration into Singapore, mixed marriages, economic losses minorities suffer when the market prices of their flats are lowered because of the policy, and an examination of lived racial experiences in Singapore viewed in light of the EIP.

He said, ”The current policy as it stands has a larger impact on minorities, penalising them in the pocket when they have to sell their flat. 

By minorities, I mean not just racial minorities (but) those who are affected by it, including Chinese, Malays… and this may perversely interact with the stated objective of the policy of racial harmony, thereby breeding resentment amongst those who are affected by the policy.”

Leader of the House Indranee Rajah joined the discussion at one point, asking the WP head to answer whether or not he was calling for the abolition of the EIP.

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“Is the answer to that yes or no, that’s all I want to know. Or is he saying that it need not be abolished; we can just look to see how we improve it?”

But Mr Singh’s answer addressed the complexity of the matter.

“How do we move forward with the EIP as it is, knowing that there are minority communities, knowing that even the majority, the Chinese community, are affected by it. Is there a better way forward?”

He confirmed later that the WP still aims for the removal of the policy, and hopes that the conditions of being race-neutral occur in his lifetime.

“It doesn’t mean that… sometimes things don’t bubble over. But there are more important things that remind us that we are Singaporean, and we ought to look beyond our skin colour.”

/TISG

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