Sunday, September 29, 2013

Singapore's blatant discrimination in housing against their citizens of Malay and Indian descent

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore has an apartheid policy when it comes to public housing.

Almost 99% of Singaporeans live in high rise apartments belonging to the government agency the HDB.

This is because of scarcity of land in the tiny island resulting in the government forcibly acquiring huge swathes of land to house its overcrowded people.

These residents are all leaseholders renting their tiny apartments on a 99 year lease which the government conveniently refers to as ownership, which it is not.

But what is astonishing to any foreigner is the rule that Singaporeans are not allowed to live anywhere they choose in their HDB flats, a form of apartheid in housing.

The government has a rule that each of these government housing estates (which house 99% of the people) should reflect the racial percentages in the island.

Since there are 75% Chinese, about 14% Malays and the balance being Indians, each housing estate should also reflect these percentages, claiming that if people were allowed to live anywhere they want, it will end up as ghettos which is undesirable.

Therefore anyone wanting to lease an apartment from the HDB should first establish if they could secure it in a location of their choice.

Once 75% has been reached in any block, a Chinese would be disallowed from purchase there and similarly once 14% has been reached which would prohibit Malays and similarly for the Indians, about 8%, according to the percentages.

As you can see, the Chinese are not as badly affected as the Malays and Indians since each location has 75% set aside for them while of the other hand the Malays and Indians get the blunt end of the stick for obvious reasons.

This policy of racial segregation in housing compels Malay and Indian families to live apart because quotas have been filled resulting in one brother having to live at one end of the island and the other brother in the other end.

Furthermore even more punishing is the fact that when a Malay sells his flat, he will have to sell it to a Malay and not to a Chinese or Indian.

Since Malays are far fewer in numbers in their  already tiny population, it may mean that he cannot sell his apartment for lack of a buyer or even if he finds one, may have to sell it at a greatly discounted price and lose money since there is no one else to buy.

Additionally Malays and Indians because of this policy are effectively also disenfranchised.

As a result of the forced segregation of their people, they are unable to form any majority in any area of Singapore thereby effectively depriving them of a chance to choose a political representative of their choice since in every constituency they are forced to be a tiny minority.

On the other hand Geylang was and is a popular Malay area. If Malays are allowed to reside in Geylang without restriction, they would naturally be able to elect a Malay Member of Parliament and very probably someone not from the ruling party.

Today as a result of these laws that force racial segregation on their people, the Malays are unable to do this and are effectively disenfranchised. They are forced to accept an ethnic Chinese politician whom they do not want.

It is unfortunate that the Malays of Singapore continue to take this punishment lying down. They are simply allowing the Chinese dominated administration to simply walk over them.

The Malays of Singapore should stand up now and reclaim the rights which they have. They should protest openly in the streets demanding that these racial quotas be immediately abrogated as it is a clear violation of the Singapore constitution which demands equality under the law.

There is no need to fear the government labeling those who protest as inciting racial hatred and fearing arrest because this is clearly not the case.

We are not against the Chinese Singaporeans because they are our brothers. But we are against the government because it is they who are deliberately denying us our rights.

Our fight is against the government, not against the Chinese. In fact I believe that any protest and demonstration that you organize against this policy would also receive the support of the Chinese because they too realize the injustice in this case.

I would ask the Malays and Indians to stand up against these unjust racial discrimination policies. Truth is on your side and so will the international community. There is no need to fear this government any longer.

Please do not obey the government and protest at Hong Lim Park conveniently designated by this government for protests. They have this law only because they don't want people to hear of your protest. You should protest where you should in this case, outside the HDB housing agency offices because they are the ones who are carrying out this injustice against you.

Don't be afraid.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Anonymous said...

The UN Special Rapporteur on racism visited singapore(s'pore)over 3 years ago and also considered the issue of housing quotas and urged the govt that more flexibility be allowed in its implemention.He also urged the govt to enact legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in all areas of life and that this law should include reporting, reviewing and enforcement mechanism(see report A/HRC/17/40/Add.2 at usual with impunity this report has been ignored. The s'pore govt bands on that it's housing policy enables communities to interact and access into each others world of food,festivals and social customs. However the experience of minority communities is racial discrimination. Take for instance 2 cases, maybe you know others:(1)racial discrimination against the cooking of the nice 'curry'(Singapore Dissident 17 Aug 2011 for details)The minority family was put under intimidating circumstances when a chinese neighbour(?),in a HDB flat, complained to the govt about the smell of curry from the minority family's cooking. The govt instead of telling the chinese neighbour(?) that the minority family is putting up with their chinese cooking(equal treatment under Article 1 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination(CERD)see at,took up the chinese neighbour's(?) cause(preferrential treatment which is racial discrimination Article 1 CERD) and confronted the minority family (inequal treatment which is racial discrimination Article 1 CERD). Faced with heavy handedness(breach Article 2 CERD)the minority family caved in under intense pressure of the circumstances, to give up cooking the nice 'curry' which is their social and cultural right(Article 1 CERD) which the govt failed to protect(breach of Article 6 CERD).(2) case of chinese woman posting racial abuse on the internet(breach Article 4 CERD) about a minority neighbour holding a wedding(social and cultural right Article 1 CERD) in the void deck of HDB block of flats(see Singapore Dissident 24 Aug 2012 and comment for details). The initial reaction the govt and it's officials was inaction(preferrential treatment of chinese woman which is racial discrimination Article 1 CERD). Eventually it appears under pressure from within and abroad the authorities with apologies to the chinese woman had asked her to leave her job and conveniently she left the country with little remedy for the minority community(preferrential treatment Article 1 and inadequate remedies for minority community, breach Article 6 CERD). Had there been anti-racism legislation as indicated by the Special Rapporteur, the govt and it's official would have been bound to act against racism). Alas nay. The s'pore govt claims that in practice it's policies comply with UN Treaties' provisions even though it has not signed and ratified them(A/HRC18/11 para 92 at The experience of minority communities tells a different story. The Special Rapporteur saw the inadequacies in the s'govt's policies which were not according to UN Treaty standards.. He urged the s'pore govt to sign and ratify CERD and enact legislation prohibiting racial discrimination. Over 3 years ago the s'pore govt confirmed it's intention to 'consider' accession to CERD(see A/HRC/17/G/12 at nay. Whilst it's minority community continues to be subjected to racial discrimination(for latest see Singapore Dissident 30 Aug 2013- job discrimination) the s'pore govt continues to 'consider' (ie think over carefully) whether it is right to prohibit racial discrimination in all areas of life.

Anonymous said...

Re: The UN Rapporteur on racism visited singapore(s'pore)3 years ago...

Continuation of comment:

People you have no legal remedy. If you have experienced evil racial discrimination in any form then write to the UN Special Rapporteur on racism with details of time,date,staff name,govt dept, company etc to:Mr Mutuma Ruteere, UN Special Rappporteur on Racism,Palais des Nations,CH-1211 Geneva 10,Switzerland. Fax: +41 22917 9006.e-mail: . If you fear victimisation, say so in your letter and ask for your details to be kept confidential. If you are experiencing victimisation because you raised a racial discrimination matter then write to the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism with details mentioned above.