A whole new world for our housing demographics soon?
The National Development Council (NDC) spent the first day of OPMUN passionately debating about the Ethnic Immigration Policy in Singapore - initially.
So what is the Ethnic Immigration Policy (EIP)?
In order to promote racial integration and harmony in Singapore, the EIP was introduced in Parliament in 1989 to ensure a better racial mix in housing estates. This was done in a bid to move away from racial enclaves. The aim was to allow an avenue for Singaporeans of different races to have a common area to socialise and learn to accept each other. This has been celebrated as one of the pivotal factors that strengthened the social fabric of Singapore, ensuring the racial and religious harmony that we speak proudly about.
However in light of the characteristics of modern Singapore, such a policy stands on unstable ground and may not be as beneficial to Singaporeans of today.
In the opening speeches of the Council, it was evident that the delegates were largely divided in their opinions of the matter. Delegates were seen emphasising their stance with strong conviction and swore their allegiance towards the two opposing factions - to remove the EIP completely, or to improve it. It was clear that there were divisions even within the Council, and this resulted in an enthralling committee session.
In order to consolidate the eventful session, here is the breakdown of what has been discussed so far:
A. Is EIP the ERP of our housing policies?
The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) drew attention to the fact that the Chinese need to pay an extra 10% more than the other races when purchasing a unit. Whether it is to prevent an over-demand of HDB units by the Chinese or to prevent minority racial groups from feeling disadvantaged, these are reasons that we can only assume. Regardless, it is still important to note why there is discrimination in these prices when there could be other better solutions to replace this.
B. The “Others”
This issues was first highlighted by Chee Soon Juan who pointed out a fatal flaw in the EIP, which dichotomised Singaporeans into “Chinese”, “Malay”, “Indian” and “Others”. However, it is important to note that inter-racial marriages have become more common in Singapore. As such, there is the rojak addition of “Chindians” and “Chinlays” for example. In these cases, which racial group do they then belong to when they purchase their HDB?
Notwithstanding the discussions made, it is rather evident that the EIP needs to evolve along with time. The fact that even the Council has their own personal assertions about the matter goes to show that something must be done.
And hopefully, all’s well ends well.