WP welcomes signing of pact against racial discrimination and calls for a multiracial committee to be formed

The opposition Workers' Party said it welcomes the signing by Singapore of an agreement to eliminate racial discrimination.
The opposition Workers' Party said it welcomes the signing by Singapore of an agreement to eliminate racial discrimination. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) has called for the formation of a committee to study "persistent perceptions of discrimination among all minority communities", a week after Singapore signed a global agreement to eliminate racial discrimination.

The opposition party said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 27) that it welcomed the signing of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on Oct 19 and its expected ratification in 2017.

The treaty, in effect since 1969, was signed in New York by Ambassador Karen Tan, Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

In a statement last week, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth pledged to work with stakeholders to fulfil its obligations under the pact, and said Singapore was committed to preserving a multiracial society in which every person is equal.

On Tuesday, the WP said in the statement signed by the chair of its media team, Dr Daniel Goh: "Even as we celebrate the achievements of our multiracialism, Singaporeans should be mindful of areas where we can do more."

One specific area it said Singapore could work on as a society was to "examine structural factors and institutional practices that may reinforce persistent perceptions of discrimination among racial minorities".

"We are mindful that conditions fuelling such perceptions might not have been purposefully established or maintained," it said.

WP cited the July 2013 report of the independent Suara Musyawarah Committee on the thoughts, concerns and aspirations of Malay-Muslims, saying it "highlighted persistent perceptions of discrimination that would be, in the long run, unhealthy for our racial harmony".

In the light of the signing of the ICERD, the WP said it believes the formation of a multiracial committee is "the best way forward to study and address persistent perceptions of discrimination among all minority communities".

"If the committee finds these perceptions to have some basis in institutional practices, then the findings will inform the Government to take the necessary action to rectify these practices. If these perceptions are found to have no basis, then the findings will allow the Government to work with affected communities to correct the perceptions," it said.

"The committee will also serve as a useful national platform for inter-cultural conversations to promote mutual understanding and respect."