At 3.45pm on the 19th of June 2017, the National Development Council (NDC) has opened a debate on Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) under the topic of Racial Integration in Public Housing. Different parties were present to debate on whether the EIP should be kept or not as well as to debate for changes in the EIP. Different representatives went up to state their opinions and explain the reasons for the need in change for EIP.
After the debate opened, the first party to speak up on the topic of EIP was the delegate representing Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The delegate felt that the EIP is still an essential part of what makes up ethnic integration in Singapore, and acknowledged that although it may have some issues, some of those issues can be solved by changing the mechanics. To quote him “ Example, changing the quota within public housing to affect the current ratio make up.” But he also mentioned how he felt that other issues can only be solved by trade offs which shows how that the fact that has to be accepted is that there are some things which have to be settled by EIP as it has better benefits than the others.
Regarding what was mentioned, this is a very old way of thinking so we have to think of ways to improve even further and not just fix the current issues present. We hence have to create new ways to not only prevent the same issues from reoccurring in EIP but also to make life in public housing with others more enjoyable as well.
Following up after a few speakers, The Workers’ Party delegate spoke up in the debate of the EIP. To quote him, “EIP is basically trying to tell others in our society that whether you can get a house or not, is up to what race you are as race is meant to directly impact their life.” He felt that EIP is very flawed. Hence, he mentioned that putting people into houses and hoping to achieve ethnic integration does not work.. He also felt that our current society has a ratio bias which has reached a point in which we view these ratio issues as a micro aggression.
This is why EIP should be removed as what the Workers’ Party mentions gives understandable reasons on how since the EIP does not bring any sense of positivity into the community, it hence has no function. It also does not bring any ethnic integration even though it said that it will.
After the delegate representing the Workers’ Party had spoken, the delegate representing the Ministry of National Development, a party which is part of the People’s Action Party, stood and spoke directly to the opposition parties. To quote her, “ We are trying to reach consensus with the opposition parties, as a Ministry of National Development, I am here to understand their view so that I can feedback to my party.”
The Ministry of National Development did not defend anything but rather, mentioned that she was just here to listen to feedback. This raises the question on whether she is just there to listen to what is happening because she doesn't see what is happening to the people?
We understand that each party has different opinions towards EIP as some expect changes, some want EIP to be removed while others are fine with it. Although they all held different opinions, they all provided many valid points for us to look at EIP and the different points of view. But overall, each party hopes to give the people the best they could give through debating as it gives them a chance to achieve their goal in the debate. They all also hope that it benefits Singaporeans as we all hope to not have a racial wall which separates us in different ways.