Thursday, March 16, 2006


There has been a lot of talk generated with regards to the subject of racial quotas. While the subject of racial quotas have been raised as one of the four basic "manifestos" by an opposition party, quite a fair amount of debate has persisted; there are those who would like to apply this principle into our education system.

In any case, racial quotas, by virtue of skin colour, is an unambiguous attempt at social engineering. The basic goal is to achieve the ultimate utopian society: One which represents a certain unique percentage mix of populations of various races and/or creeds.


Approximately four decades ago, the Housing Development Board (HDB) instituted a large-scale housing program to relocate its citizens from rural villages. In those days, villages were basically segregated living quarters of various races and creeds. For example, if you were milling around in a Chinese village, chances are, you are not going to find that many Indians or Malays around to hang out with.

When the majority of the populaces began to be assimilated into the HDB program, the local authorities began to fear that individual races would once again congregate together in these government living quarters, in a bid to live within their own racial comfort zones. In an attempt to arrest this anticipated trend, racial quotas were installed, particularly on the majority members of the Chinese and Malay communities.

As a result, each block of flats built by the HDB have since been subjected to a crude form of social structuring: Chinese residents can own no more than 84 per cent of units in a neighbourhood and Malays 22 per cent.

As Health Minister Mr Khaw puts it rather bluntly:" For us as MPs, we know every few weeks there will be somebody who comes forward saying please abolish the quota. And we just got to keep on saying sorry, ethnic quota is not negotiable. Abolishing it would cause 'happiness for a very short period'. But what would happen after that?

Suddenly your whole block will be Chinese block, Indian block, Malay block. Then the next thing after that is a Chinese school or Indian school because schools tend to be in the neighbourhood. [Emphasis added] And then you polarise."


As our health minister has highlighted, the ultimate purpose of a racial quota is aimed at negating any forms of segregation along racial lines.

Since the advent of racial riots in the 1960s, the authorities figured out that racial tensions could have been easily incited in racially homogenous societies. They probably reasoned that a less homogenous, interacial community will breed more tolerance and harmony amongst members of various races.

The problem however arises: Will the masses, long used to members of their own races as their neighbours, be able to adapt into a relatively alien, multi-racial environment?

As the old tale goes, no fishing line is ever complete without the bait: With the Housing Development program in store to entice the masses, people were more interested in upgrading to living in flats with better comfort and sanitation. The masses took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Racial quotas was thus easily implemented with minimum fuss.

Trust our government to think of such a splendid idea.


And so it is, that the current generation of Singaporeans living in HDB flats have become integrated by HDB's social engineering program.

The question to be asked, then, would be: Is it all that necessary?

Perhaps a few examples will give us a clearer picture:

1. A couple is planning to move into an HDB flat. They find a flat which they fell in love with instantly, and the housing agent is daydreaming about his commissions before the deal is even sealed with ink and paper.

Before the deal is ironed out, the HDB decides to step in: The couple, being Chinese, would have exceeded the maximum 84% quota of Chinese families currently living in the block. Does that make any sense?

2. A block of HDB flats is located near a Chinese temple. Many superstitious folks have been hankering after that block of flats, due to its very good "fengshui" and other auspicious mumbo-jumbos. Due to the racial quota, 16% of the block remains unoccupied, as it would have violated the racial quota. Despite the ruling, throngs of people are still on the waiting list. Doesn't make good business sense to me, really.

In short, people who are looking to purchase their own lodgings are unlikely to be bothered with the skin colours of their neighbours. Racial quotas may very well be an infringement of human rights, since the refusal of any purchase by the government because of one's race or skin colour is a form of racial prejudice, even if the accusation is never intended in the first place.


Despite the ill-merits of racial quotas, there has been suggestions that our government schools conform to a similar ethnic quota to enhance our multi-cultural identity.

Again, as in the case of HDB quotas, installing racial quotas in schools will deprive students the right to study in the schools of their choice on wholly unreasonable grounds of exceeding racial quotas.

One does not have to look very far to witness the detrimental effects of racial quotas in education systems. Malaysian universities have long practised a system of preference for her indigenous people, so much so that the minority communities would have to compete for minimum slots in order to get into their universities. As a result, many bright students from the minority races missed out their chances to pursue a local tertiary education.

Is this the kind of education system we would wish upon our younger generation? Should a child be deprived of entry into a educational institution of his choice not because of the basis of his academic abilities, but rather, his skin colour?


It is imperative that all forms of social quotas, be it HDB-based or education-oriented, be dumped. People are not herds of sheep that can be manipulated with a crack of a whip. As a democratic society, people must be allowed to make their own choices within the safe confines of reason, rational thinking and secular law.

Only then, can we truly call ourselves an open society.



At 2:14 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi Beast:

I wish to say that i only support racial quota in primary school where admission is not based on merits.

This is very different from the malaysia's system which you are talking about.

At 2:21 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Again, its the same thing.

Say, if you are a Malay, or worse still, a Indian. If you are a Malay, every school you wish to enrol your child in, you have a 22% chance of enrolling your son in simply because that particular school has that fixed no. of slots for your those with similar skin colour as yours.If you are an Indian, chances are, the scope of choice becomes ever smaller.

Again, this is just a more benign form of racial segregation as practised in South Africa and united states.

It is best to allow the general public to make their own decisions, and for schools to exercise their own autonomous rights in deciding who should or should not study in schools.

At 2:27 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

I feel that sometimes it is best to view issues beyond mere skin colour.

Any attempts to foster social integration through enforced social engineering may not acquire the results as intended for.

As far as I am concerned, schools are pretty mixed in terms of racial and cultural integration, save for the few schools that are religiously inclined (Eg catholic schools).

At 2:51 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi Beast:

Actually ur argument is flawed.

Lets assume that Malays can only make up 22% of the total student population and Chinese 84% like HDB quotas.

The racial makeup of Spore according to Singstats is 75.56% Chinese, 13.64% Malays, 8.7% Indians, 2.1% others.

This mean at the very least the malay can get 16% of the primary school places which is more than their racial proportion in Spore. This means most Malays should be able get a place in a primary school near their home.

Also unlike in m'sia higher education sys or sporean higher education sys for that matter, there is more than enough places in our primary schools to educate all Sporean children.

Hence there is no worries of being denied a primary education due to racial quotas unlike the case it will be if it is applied in the higher education sys.

By the way nice to u see u online at the same time as me lolz.

At 3:19 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

The issue here is not about being denied a decent education.

Its about being deprived of a choice simply based on statistical data.

No doubt, the HDB quota presents a broad-based statistic that accounts for each and every Singaporean. But that should not be applied on each and every block!

Like the example I gave earlier, if a block of flats has a 99% demand by the Chinese population, for some specific reason, are we going to let the remaining 14-16% go unpurchased so as to allow other races who have no inclination to purchase flats from that block?

The same thing applies to education. Say, if a particular primary school caters to a location that has 50% muslims, are we going to relocate the no of muslims to another faraway primary school just so as to toe the racial quota line?

The issue here is this, any attempts to control ethnic mixing, be it apartheid or fixed social quotas, are just going to incur a lot of problems, and a whole host of unwanted indignation and ill-feelings.

Better to still to pro-choice than artificial living standards.

At 3:27 PM, March 17, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

I remember as a school kid, we used to say these phrases:

"We The Citizens of Singapore,
Pledges Ourselves as One United People,
Regardless of Race, Language or Religion....."

Racial quotas runs smack against our principles. We talk about equality of races, yet we would enforce social quotas along the lines of racial entities.

Honour our pledge. Abolish racial quotas.

At 6:07 PM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its sad that locals are following the govt line and use/see/ fear malaysia as the bogeyman,

if the bumiputras in malasia are the malays,

the chinese are the bumiputras of singapore.

it takes a non-chinese to understd that.

At 1:25 AM, March 29, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Wrong. All it takes is a liberal Singapore to see through the smokescreens and delusions of the conservative right.

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