SINGAPORE: Given the many advancements Singapore has made over the decades, some Singaporeans online are questioning why interracial couples are still such a big deal in Singapore society, in today’s day and age.

The debate online was triggered by Reddit user ‘the_sigma_snake’, who revealed that their Chinese friend has met derogatory comments, simply for dating an Indian man. The Redditor revealed:

“One of my closest colleagues and friends is a mid 20s local chinese girl. She’s quite popular on social media and is dating a local Indian guy. From my interactions with him, he’s a nice looking, smart and respectful guy who treats her well.

“However, from her own social media and just general feedback from her family, it seems like interracial dating is still such a big deal.

“For example, in her social media, she gets comments like “he kidnap you ah?” or “be careful, he will R you” or “you can stand the smell?” or “you are chinese guys will want you” or “such a waste a pretty girl like you end up with that” etc etc. Generally many of the comments are very racist and hurtful to her and of course the guy.”

Sharing that the boyfriend says he is used to such racism, the Redditor wrote: “I was very shocked as I’ve always felt that our country is great cos of our racial harmony.”

Pointing out that younger Singaporeans are more respectful of different relationships, unlike some older Singaporeans who may be more closed-minded, the Redditor added: “In 2024, I still find it shocking that Singapore, of all places, which is a multi-racial country, that we can’t accept interracial couples and marriages.”

One commenter, who is a mixed child, asserted that this issue has spanned generations. They shared, “All my life, my brother and I have faced racist remarks from old chinese people etc. My parents however have been happily married for almost 50 years now.”

Another commenter, an Indian woman, said she has become desensitized to both casual and outright racism, with some making racially charged comments and asking her to learn to take a joke when confronted.

Revealing that her boyfriend, a Chinese Singaporean, received pushback from his parents and grandparents when he shared that he was dating her, the netizen shared:

“They said ‘why can’t you just like a Chinese girl and make things easier for us?’ But surprisingly, aft 5 years, probably because I can speak Chinese, I’m a good person, and they consider me to not look ‘traditional’, I can safely say they love me as their daughter in law. But if they could choose, I’m pretty sure they would choose to have a Chinese daughter in law.”

The Singaporean woman (u/meatyypasta) said she doesn’t see this atmosphere changing anytime soon. She opined: “You would think younger gen are less racist. WRONG. In uni, I still rmb this guy telling me I’m pretty FOR AN INDIAN, but I would still rank lower than a Chinese girl. Wtf does that mean? I don’t see this changing any time soon.”

Another Singaporean in an interracial relationship said: “Sg has racial tolerance, not acceptance.”

Revealing that he has found ways to cope with the racially charged comments he receives, the man – u/Prestigious-Toe8622 who appears to be of Indian ethnicity – said: “Get a lot of looks, and if I was more active on social media, I’d get more hurtful comments. But the comments can’t actually offend you if you decide you’re not going to be offended.

“In my case, I realized I’m way better off than the people making the comment, so after a while my reaction changed to more of pity than anger. It’s funny to see people rage about my wife marrying me while they’re struggling to even earn 10k a month.”

Interestingly, another Redditor (u/KagariY) said she faced racism from her Indian father when she got into a relationship with her now-husband because he is Caucasian, even though her father is in an interracial marriage with her Chinese mother.

Others online decried the casual racism they say is still prevalent in Singapore. One netizen, ‘fijimermaidsg’, said: “There’s a lot of “casual racism” in SG which these people say it’s not so bad lah, words only mah… but words are aggressions too. These people have never experienced racism in their lives, i.e. slurs and “words” thrown at them.”

Some, however, say that the racism directed online may not accurately reflect ground realities. Reddit user ‘t3apot’ said: “Those negative comments on social media don’t represent the majority of the society. And also, some spiteful people just hide behind the mobile screens to hurl their anger via their keyboards to people they don’t know.”

The debate reflects a complex reality: while Singapore prides itself on being a multi-racial society, true acceptance of interracial relationships remains a work in progress. The ongoing discourse perhaps reveals the need for greater efforts towards fostering genuine racial harmony and acceptance, moving beyond mere tolerance to embrace the rich diversity that defines Singapore.