Singapore

Ethnic identity survey raises questions

A new survey on ethnic identity has laid bare underlying inter-ethnicity issues that need to be tackled, said observers and organisations promoting inter-cultural activities.

But others said that the topic is not so clear-cut.

They were reacting to an Institute of Policy Studies-Channel NewsAsia study which found that many of its 2,020 respondents do not participate in the cultural practices of those from other races.

It also found that respondents were less accepting of new immigrants of other ethnicities and even less so if these new citizens are people from less-developed regions such as Africa.

Weighing in on the findings, social anthropologist Lai Ah Eng cautioned against reading too much into the results.

She said respondents' acceptance of new citizens might have varied if they had been given specific situations or context when filling in their responses.

DATING CAUCASIANS

The survey found 74 per cent of Chinese respondents said they were more comfortable with their children dating Caucasians, compared with 59 per cent if their dates were Malay and 54 per cent if Indian.

Undergraduate Soh Xing Huei, 21, suggested that one possible reason that Caucasians were ranked higher by respondents might be due to the general populace's "heavy exposure to Western culture and media" and thus the sense of "familiarity" with them.

The survey also found that younger Chinese and Indian respondents were less likely to understand the importance of certain markers which Malay respondents had largely perceived as important.

These included traits, beliefs and practices associated with Islam, such as eating halal food and wearing the tudung.

Researchers said this lack of inter-cultural understanding among young Singaporeans may be a result of fewer interactions and friendships across racial lines, adding that it is a trend that "bears watching".

Race & ReligionsurveyDating