Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld
Audrey Chia and Angeline Lim Introduction We, the citizens of Singapore Pledge ourselves as one united people Regardless of race, language or religion To build a democratic society Based on justice and equality So as to achieve happiness, prosperity and Progress for our nation. (The Singapore Pledge, 1966) Equality has been an important aspect of nation-building ever since Singapore gained independence in 1965. It was originally a small fishing village inhabited by Malays and Orang Lauts; however, British colonialism brought with it not only trade but an influx of immigrants from the Malay Archipelago, China, the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. These immigrants often fought among themselves. The most prominent clash was the racial riots in 1964 between the Malays and the Chinese that left more than 30 people dead and more than 500 injured. Therefore, when Singapore gained independence, achieving harmony was considered an important goal by the founders of the Republic of Singapore. Over the years, many efforts were made to maintain harmony among its citizens. This was done through legislation, the development of a national identity, housing policies and education. In the early years of Singapore’s independence, legislation and national symbols were used to convey the message of equality. Article 12(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (hereafter referred to as Article 12(2)) states that there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law or in the appointment...
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