The survey also found that “only a small proportion” of respondents faced racial discrimination at work (less than 9 per cent) and in the housing market (3 per cent), with ethnic minorities more affected than Chinese.
In response to such unfair or discriminatory treatment, respondents often felt sad, resigned or angry, according to the survey.
More than 40 per cent said they were not affected by race-related incidents highlighted in the news, with researchers noting a “moderate level of apathy” towards these incidents, especially among older respondents.
While the report did not highlight specific examples of such incidents, among those which have hit the headlines in the recent past are the former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer caught on video making racist remarks to an interracial couple and a viral video which captured a woman repeatedly hitting a gong during a neighbour’s prayer ritual.
For those affected, they tended to be more cautious when talking to someone of a different race, and pay more attention to such stories in the news.
Respondents – especially minorities and younger respondents – generally approved of making police reports after encountering racism, while older respondents tended to be more ambivalent about this issue.
Despite this, the survey found that respondents were unlikely to call out racism via any means, regardless of their race, and especially disapproved of doxxing.
“Vigilante justice online seemed to be a line most respondents would not cross,” the report said.
Fewer than half agreed that people should directly criticise people who have made a racist comment or carried out a racist act, or write a post calling out racist incidents they have observed or personally experienced.
The top reasons for not speaking up about racism include being uncertain of the context behind the behaviour they witnessed, or feeling that it was a matter between the parties involved.
Meanwhile, most said it would benefit minorities if members of the majority race learned about their cultural celebrations, and empathise with those who have experienced discrimination.
However, a slight majority of respondents (57.6 per cent) – particularly older respondents – said they were tired of talking about issues of race and racism while those who were looking forward to more public dialogue, were more likely to be more highly educated respondents as well as minorities.
While many were indifferent about potential future developments to do with race in Singapore, having a greater intercultural understanding ranked highly among respondents, with 62.9 per cent saying that this would be “good” or “very good”.
“This may involve, or be bolstered by, people more commonly learning the language of another ethnic group,” the report said. A substantial proportion, 59.3 per cent, thought this would be beneficial.
“Similarly, on the possibility that people have free choice of which mother tongue(s) to learn, 63.1 per cent indicated that it would be good or very good.”
However, there were mixed sentiments about reducing sensitivity surrounding racial discourse. About half thought this would be “good” or “very good”, while the majority of those remaining felt that it would make no difference.
Indian respondents were more positive about having a national consensus on what constitutes racism, and about having more open discourse about race generally.
Many respondents supported recognising a greater variety of racial and cultural backgrounds, but were not comfortable with removing the Government’s CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others) categorisation from identity documents.
While many felt that it would be beneficial for people to identify as “Singaporean” rather than “Singaporean-Chinese”, “Singaporean-Malay”, “Singaporean-Indian” or “Others”, they were less comfortable with policies also moving in a “race-blind” direction.
This refers to racial quotas in housing, immigration law, parliamentary representation and national celebrations.
More than a third of all respondents (34 per cent) felt that Singapore is already “regardless of race, language or religion” but 20 per cent felt that this would never be achieved.
Others believed some time would be needed to achieve this, which could range anywhere from under 10 years to more than 50. These findings were generally consistent across respondents of different races, said the report.
Source: Channel News Asia