Racial classification helps protect minority rights

Shoppers at Orchard Road, on Dec 23, 2017.
Shoppers at Orchard Road, on Dec 23, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

I do not agree that the racial classification on identity cards disrupts social harmony (Remove race on ICs to promote S'pore identity, April 16).

On the contrary, our racial and religious harmony is the result of a wise government taking pains to enact legislation in a Chinese-majority country to protect the rights and privileges of minorities and create a cohesive multiracial Singaporean society.

The racial classification on ICs enshrines the fundamental principle of the Singaporean identity, where rights of minorities are fully protected.

Racial categories are social constructs and are based on a group of people with similar physical characteristics.

Ethnicity describes a group of people who identify with one another based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, cultural heritage, dressing style and cuisine, among others.

Nationality is a legal relationship between an individual person and a state.

The United States may be a melting pot of cultures, but saying "I am an American" does not mean that the personal identity of an individual is hidden.

Similarly, removing the race category and labelling all of us Singaporeans is not going to change anything.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'Racial classification helps protect minority rights'. Print Edition | Subscribe