Forum: Careful approach taken to manage racial balance

We thank Dr Shannon Ang for his views (More clarity needed on issue of racial balance, Oct 19).

Information on Singapore's citizen racial composition is published annually and is publicly available.

Given the sensitivity of race issues, the Government's approach has been to carefully manage the racial balance among our citizens.

Any large shift could result in an ethnic community feeling marginalised, or that their identity and belonging in society are being eroded. This could give rise to negative sentiments against the other communities.

Broadly, two factors affect the racial balance of our citizen population: births and immigration.

The Government provides strong support for Singaporeans to marry and have children - this is our primary strategy for building and maintaining a strong Singaporean core.

Our immigration policies augment our citizen population. The Government has said on several occasions that our intake of immigrants is carefully calibrated so that our racial balance is maintained. As such, racial proportions in our citizen population have remained stable. In the last 10 years, the proportion of citizens of Chinese ethnicity has remained at 76 per cent, Malay at 15 per cent, Indian at 7.5 per cent, and the Others at 1.5 per cent.

Singapore's population is becoming more diverse, with more inter-ethnic and transnational marriages.

Recognising this, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) now accepts applicants' race declarations for their National Registration Identity Cards, which is not limited to the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others categories. ICA also allows for double-barrelled race classification.

Aside from preserving the racial balance, the Government also works with communities to build stronger relationships among the different races. We actively foster shared spaces and experiences in our schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces and in national service. This enables people from all ethnic groups to interact, build friendships and engage in constructive discourse. We ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally, regardless of race or religion.

As a nation, the ideal must be to see and manage ourselves as one united people. However, the lived reality is that race is deeply ingrained in how humans relate to each other, and it will be some time yet before this division disappears from our consciousness.

Until then, we will continue to celebrate our diversity, and strive to maintain and improve upon the racial harmony that we have worked so hard to secure.

Lu Xinyi

Director

Media Relations

Ministry of Home Affairs

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