New migrants from China perceived as more racist

Singaporeans think new migrants from China are more racist compared with migrants from India and the Philippines, a survey has found.

This group of Chinese is also perceived to be more racist than the three main races of Singapore.

The findings show about 65 per cent of Singapore residents feel the Chinese migrants are at best, mildly racist. The corresponding figures for the Indian and Filipino migrants are 54 per cent and 56 per cent.

The survey on race relations, commissioned by Channel NewsAsia and the Institute of Policy Studies, had asked 2,000 Singapore residents how they perceive the racism of the new migrants from India, China and the Philippines.

The residents had to select from five options: very racist, moderately racist, mildly racist, hardly racist and not racist.

They were also asked for their perception of how racist Singaporean Chinese, Malays and Indians are.

More than half of them view Singaporean Chinese (56 per cent) and Malays (53 per cent) as being at least mildly racist.

Almost half see Singaporean Indians as being at least mildly racist.

Participants were also asked what constitutes racism. More than 70 per cent feel if a person remarks that people of a particular race are normally dirty, lazy or money-minded, or does not hire someone because of the person's race or religion, then that person is a racist.

But only 37 per cent feel that speaking with a person of a different race in a language they are not familiar with as being racist.

National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan said that the survey "is teasing out our prejudices".

"One can only make such generalised statements about people from China when there is an information gap, and people rely on hearsay," she said.

Education and giving people the chance to interact with those from other races and nationalities are ways to counter such prejudices, she said. "If you have friends from a particular race or nationality, you will be more careful with the way you talk about them," she said.

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'New migrants from China perceived as more racist'. Print Edition | Subscribe