Raise awareness that discrimination is not normal

The crowd pictured during the official opening of the SMU School of Law building on March 15, 2017.
The crowd pictured during the official opening of the SMU School of Law building on March 15, 2017.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It is 2017 but discrimination is still practised by some in Singapore. It is so ingrained that many do not even think there is anything wrong with it.

For instance, some employers still overtly or covertly, favour certain groups of people.

Kudos to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices for its work in educating people in this area.

Another worrisome group is landlords. They are famously known to ask agents to filter out characteristics they "do not prefer".

Recently, I made an inquiry for an apartment, and the agent grilled me on my race, nationality, employer and even profession.

I do not see how this is the landlord's business. The agent then said: "Sorry, they prefer expats."

Agents accept this as normal practice, but apartheid was also normal practice.

Some will expressly tell you that they are bigots, adding that they have the right to choose to exclude the fat, the smelly, the slow or the ugly.

I would strongly support the enactment of our own equality act - a law that criminalises a manifestation of bigotry.

Why does 21st century Singapore not have legislation to cure 19th century ills?

As citizens, it is also our job to make it known that discriminatory practices are not normal.

If we continue to remain silent, then the disease will spread.

If we don't speak up, we will one day see restaurants, hotels and shops that exclude customers based on how they look, saying it's normal and we should just accept it.

Benjamin Chiang