There are heartening differences between two surveys of interracial and inter-religious harmony in Singapore carried out in 2013 and last year. More Singaporeans now have close friends of another race compared with five years ago, and are also more trusting of those from different races or religions. Most respondents, including minorities, perceive little to no discrimination and social exclusion in public spaces here, this being an important indicator of racial and religious harmony. However, according to the study by the Institute of Policy Studies and racial harmony advocacy group OnePeople.sg, there is an uptick in minority groups perceiving workplace discrimination, such as when applying for jobs.
Complaints of discrimination in employment and career progress are an issue that employers cannot take lightly. If true, discrimination can and will impact on the material basis of workers' connection with the larger goals of a multiracial society - which is underpinned by an adherence to individual merit and not group privilege. Since, as anywhere else, it is the minorities who are more likely to raise concerns about discrimination, it behoves employers to think twice about practising at the workplace what they would not do in public spaces: racially motivated behaviour. It is equally important for minorities not to put down every example of job rejection to racial discrimination, but to ask themselves instead how they could do better with their next application. In this area of concern, too, there is much to hope for, since workplace racial discrimination complaints accounted for only 5 per cent of all complaints received by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices and the Ministry of Manpower from 2014 to last year.