Study how race affects votes

It would be premature to conclude that Singaporeans have largely become race blind ("Election result shows progress towards race blindness" by Mr S. Ratnakumar, and "Rethink need for GRC scheme" by Mr Tan Peng Boon; both published on May 10).

It is unrealistic to imagine that ethnicity did not have any bearing on the successes of minority candidates, from Mr David Marshall to Mr Murali Pillai.

Such candidates had the backing and endorsement of political parties and affiliates such as trade unions and chambers of commerce.

Devoid of these crucial support pillars, it is hard to see how a minority candidate can win an election in the foreseeable future.

With the ever-increasing number of new citizens from countries such as China and India, racial consciousness is not going to get any less.

The questions to ask are whether Singaporeans vote in a race-based way, to what extent they do this, and whether this can be measured in an empirical way.

This can be done in two ways.

First, ballot papers can be colour coded so as to get a breakdown of voting patterns in mixed-race contests. We would be able to discover what percentage of the majority race voted for the candidate of that race, and what percentage of the minority race voted for the minority race candidate.

Second, during the general election, set aside one or two wards as "reserve constituencies", where only fresh-face independents from both majority and minority races contest.

The results would produce a minefield of data for political scientists to study and to interpret the level of race bias in the voting public.

K. Kalidas