Project Brief: Read the commentary, ‘Why Singapore needs new ways to tackle racism more effectively’ by Mathew Mathews and Shane Nicolas Pereira (available at <https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/ips/publications/details/why-singapore-needs-new-ways-to-tackle- racism-more-effectively>). Racial sensitivity and race relations have been highlighted in the recent emergence of a number of incidents on social media. Referring to the related course readings as well as …
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Read the commentary, ‘Why Singapore needs new ways to tackle racism more effectively’ by Mathew Mathews and Shane Nicolas Pereira (available at <https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/ips/publications/details/why-singapore-needs-new-ways-to-tackle- racism-more-effectively>).
Racial sensitivity and race relations have been highlighted in the recent emergence of a number of incidents on social media.
Referring to the related course readings as well as the above commentary, examine Singapore’s approach to managing multi-ethnicity/multi-racialism so far, in light of these circumstances. What could explain those incidents, and how should we rethink our approach to society and community with respect to race/ethnicity?
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For this assignment, you should demonstrate a basic understanding of the arguments put forth in Study Unit 2. You may also derive insights from other chapters. Additional reading/research, only if needed, can be done from both academic and news databases in the SUSS library’s e-resources (JSTOR, Sage Sociology collection, SOCIndex for academic resources; Factiva for news).
Using the course readings, the TMA requires you to develop a critical understanding of, and question, how culture and society in Singapore (in particular, race and ethnicity (and even religion) in this assignment) have been managed in the past, and within this context, think about potential fault lines and divisions that have emerged or are emerging today. You should engage with both the commentary assigned above and your course readings, in writing your essay.
In your answer, you should consider (but are not limited to) some of the following ideas, as you will find them helpful:
- The sociological concepts ‘culture’, ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ versus how these have generally been used and handled in Singapore, according to Benjamin (1976)
- Singapore’s specific brand and management of ‘multiracialism’
- Singapore’s history as a plural society
- ‘Race’, ‘ethnicity’, ‘religion’ and ‘class’ as components of Singapore society
What the lecturer is looking for:
- Definition/key terms and concepts in the introduction. Definition of race, ethnicity, culture and national identity (do remember to highlight these terms. When talking about race, do be aware of the concept of ethnocracy. How race and ethnicities develop and play in Singapore)
- Discuss SG management on multiracialism and how SG has managed the multiethnic society: official position of the Singapore Govt position towards multiracialism which attempts to tie culture to racial categorization in Singapore.
- Examine and discuss if SG official approach in managing a diverse society is sufficient today
- To discuss how SG has managed a multiracial and multi-religious society
- Outline Singapore’s history as a plural society (main reading: Benjamin’s)
- Benjamin argues that Sg brand in multiracialism creates a race-based identity for most Singaporeans(examine, relate and discuss and its continued relevance)
- Examine one of the founding needs: The idea that Singapore has 4 main major races which is the CMIO model and how this has impacted the modern social-political system in terms of racial representation
- Racial representation has pervaded/influenced Singapore’s social life such as other aspects and ways of thinking of culture have been overlooked
- Multiracialism actually tied to race and ethnicity and why other aspects of Singapore’s culture has not been acknowledged and promoted by the state
- Compare the top-down vs bottom-up understandings of national identity
- Racial categorisation or labeling in Singapore society seems to be outdated when an increasing number cannot be easily or neatly fit into a given ethnic category especially the CMIO Model. Racial categorization based on the CMIO model
- Singapore’s focus on harmony built on multiracialism has also led the people overlooking their need for more inclusiveness when it comes to social classes and other social spaces like migrant workers and communities which has been thrown into the public debate and discussion
- Bring in relevant issues beyond article: enforced quota on public housing, bilingualism, and how efforts promote race-based identity and racial integration
- Talk about some challenges like presently, there are immigration racial integration: to illustrate the evolving nature of race relation and ethnic identities
- Consider how racial identity in Singapore remains to be strong
- Discuss how most Singaporeans are showing greater awareness of the needs to mitigate emerging class inequalities especially with regards to inequalities and poverty issues in Singapore
- Think about Government Directed approaches and how these cannot replace the social relationships and mutual understanding that are cultivated ground up amongst Singaporeans: based on bottom-up understanding/perspectives
Some things that were said about the CMIO model by the lecturer:
- CMIO model contradicts the founding myths, enforced quota on public housing is not addressing the evolving nature with regards to racial identity due to migrant issues and interracial marriages
- Enforced racial representation is problematic as it restricts the way we think about other aspects of Singapore culture. Race and ethnicity are always related to culture. Hence it has not been successful.
- The CMIO model may not be compatible with the (social-political systems) public official policies that have been implemented – bilingualism, migrant issues
- The enforced quota on public housing may not promote racial integration
- Migrant issues: how Singapore’s emphasis on harmony that is built on multiracialism has led to people overcooking the need for inclusiveness when it comes to social classes or other social statuses. We tend to overlook the Low wage migrant workers and community were almost invisible to the public before COVID-19
- Migrant workers, they are here temporarily but they are involved in public infrastructure and promote economic growth and seen as a necessity
It is important that you utilise and engage with the material and arguments from the course materials for your assignment, and to demonstrate sound sociological thinking.
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