Multiracialism must be supported by policies

I am very glad that we have had a restricted presidential election this time round.

The concept of a reserved election for a leadership position which has more of a stewardship function than an executive one is a noble idea and distinct to a country without too much historical baggage.

The reserved election is not designed to favour any specific racial group.

Rather, it is a policy response which recognises the human instinct to feel more comfortable with, and to favour, members of one's own racial group.

We must have the maturity to separate unhappiness over the concept of an election where a qualified minority-race candidate is allowed to emerge as winner, from the issue of the qualification of candidates based on a set criteria.

In this recent election, arguably, more disquiet was felt over the fact that people did not have a chance to vote rather than over the concept of the reserved election itself.

These are two separate and distinct issues.

Multiracialism can turn into mere lip service if we do not actively put in place policies which make it a practical reality.

I applaud the Government for having taken this decision.

It may be politically costly, but it is a price worth paying to show the world that we are a unique society in a world where race is an issue in many countries.

Allen Tan Han Loong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2017, with the headline 'Multiracialism must be supported by policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe