In this paper, I outline some of the common forms of racism that Singaporean Indians experience in their daily lives. Though other racial minority groups such as the Malays and Eurasians also experience racism within the Chinese dominated Singaporean society, I am limiting my focus to the Indians as my research is based on this community.
It should be pointed out that the experience of racism among the Malays has been well documented (see Tremewan 1996 & Rahim 1998). Moreover, because the Malays are often singled out as a “socially and economically underachieving” community in Singapore which in turn has generated critical response and resentment from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, racism towards the Malays is also well publicised.
However, racism towards the Indians has received little public attention. Even though Indians face racial discrimination in their everyday lives, their high socio-economic standing relative to their population size puts them as a prosperous and successful community in Singapore. As a result, racism has been become a non-issue for the India community and effectively ruling out the possibility of articulating experiences of racism discrimination in any official capacity.
In this paper, I seek to document some of the everyday experiences and practices of racism in Singapore. Using empirical material and research field notes, I will outline a range of subtle to explicit forms of racism that manifest in different social spaces in Singapore (indeed, there are more research that needs to be done in studying structural and institutional racism). I argue that while the city-state actively engages in activities targeted at 'fostering social cohesion' and is ever vigilant at suppressing overt racist provocations, with few exceptions it has effectively silenced the voices of people who are at the receiving end of everyday racism.
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