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It was reported yesterday that minorities are having a hard time selling their flats because, under the Ethnic Integration Policy or EIP, they cannot sell them to Singaporean Chinese families under certain conditions.
This means that they are only able to sell the flats to people from minority races, a situation that significantly restricts the pool of potential buyers thus reducing their market value.
Their situation was raised by four MPs in Parliament last week.
The SDP had pointed out this discriminatory practice in 2015 in our alternative policy A Singapore For All Singaporeans (read the paper here).
In it, we stated that the EIP prevented minority families “from getting the best value for their apartments should they wish to sell their property, especially in cases of divorce, financial emergency or other unforeseen events.”
The EIP is misguided. It was introduced, ostensibly, to promote racial integration and harmony. But it fails to take into consideration that home is where families return after a long day at work and in school. Regardless of race, people are desirous of living where they are closer to their work places, children’s schools and parents’ homes.
Also, living and working conditions in today’s society means that contact and socialisation with one’s neighbours is minimal. The idea that racial harmony can be achieved by sharing an occasional elevator ride with a member of a different race is at variance with reality.
Integration and multi-racialism needs to be considered from a holistic viewpoint, not just by limiting the number of Malays or Indians in various housing estates.
Removing racially discriminatory practices and establishing social, economic and educational policies that bring Singaporeans together – policies spelt out in the SDP’s proposal – will go a long way to promoting racial integration in Singapore.
But, worryingly, instead of fostering genuine racial unity, the PAP stokes ethnic differences by making Singaporeans vote along racial lines. Using the GRC system and the changing the Presidential Elections rules to push Mdm Halimah Yacob as President is clear demonstration that the PAP is intent on playing the race card in electoral politics.
Its divide-and-conquer strategy will result in distrust among the citizenry and end in a fragmented Singapore.
If after more that 50 years of non-stop PAP rule results in the system continuing to emphasise on skin colour rather than our shared experiences and pride of being Singaporeans, then the approach has failed. We must change course.
Singaporeans should be free to live wherever they choose; the government should not dictate where citizens live. The EIP is race politics at its ugliest and must be abolished.