Mosaic - Protecting the Multi-racialism of Singapore
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Mosaic - Protecting the Multi-racialism of Singapore



For Singaporeans, multiculturalism is the base of their nationalism. Along with its contribution in social transformation and economic development, their multiculturalism serves as the base for ...

For Singaporeans, multiculturalism is the base of their nationalism. Along with its contribution in social transformation and economic development, their multiculturalism serves as the base for national resilience and is internalized within the part of of citizen life everyday. Its stability is maintained on the basis a pre-determined ratio of ethnic composition, known as the CMIO (Chinese-Malays-Indians-Others), which has been sustained over time. However, taking this for granted could pose significant challenges as the country moves towards achieving higher economic development that immediately puts the nation in a highly dynamic position regarding matters such as immigration, terrorism, and social change. In this paper, we seek to anticipate the future so that we are better prepared for the alternatives that may arise in the future by using some methods of Futures Studies. In doing so, we firstly identify the theoretical and practical base of multiculturalism in Singapore and highlight some statistics and events that set the trends in which we should imagine the future. The bearings of the past and present on the future of Singapore multiculturalism is firstly analyzed using a futures triangle. We then use the RAHS (Risk Analysis and Horizon Scanning) software to create system maps, identify sub-models, and conduct a morphological analysis on the various drivers. This helps us in identifying and mitigating the challenges that might be faced by analysts and government in adapting to necessary changes. Then a deeper analysis of the various key drivers affecting Singaporean multiculturalism is done using the four quadrant model to highlight which issues could be handled in the short to medium term by policies and legislature and which others would need a more long term and gradual change of attitude among Singaporeans. Wild cards and their importance in the Singaporean context is also studied which is followed by a scenario building exercise to highlight the various alternatives that may lie in the future of Singaporean Multiculturalism. We conclude with certain key findings and a few recommendations on the way forward.



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  • Local agencies in all countries were aware of the importance of culture as a means of building personal confidence, consolidating identity, preventing social exclusion and providing routes for a number of people into employment in both the creative industries and other sectors.
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  • What is Multiculturalism?As a policy, multiculturalism refers to the various way in which states attempt to manage the multicultural-ness of their constituents. Multiculturalism is assumed upon the notion, as written by Norman Vasu, that “language, history or religion – any combination of which are sometimes referred to as ‘ethnicity’ – are frequent markers of distinct culture which require some form of management within a polity.The degree of multiculturalism :“separation” calls for clear separation or boundaries among ethnics. On the other hand, with “assimilation”, cultural identity is not really important so that any single ethnic within a nation should be assimilated into a dominant culture. In the middle of the continuum, the policy of integration consists of mild and hard multiculturalism. Mild multiculturalism refers to the policy where a state remains neutral with regard to cultural matters. Known also as “benign neglect”, the policy seek to enable different ethnics to be integrated with some degrees of assimilation so that a law can be maintained in a way that each ethnic to pursue their own ends or purposes. Meanwhile, hard multiculturalism take further the ethnic differences to be preserved. This policy “supports the protection of minority rights through institutional recognition of cultural difference in the public sphere including political representations.”
  • The Index of Inclusiveness is increasingThe population is growing CMIO is maintained
  • However, there is growing concern over the incoming migrants (foreign talent)
  • If it combines with curry & slashing incident, it’ll bring negative effect toward Singapore multiculturalism
  • One possible reason for this reluctance is that these people are unable to foresee the impact of these changes on their individual future as well as the collective future of their countries. Lack of strategic conversation within the officials as well as between the government and the public. This is a result of divergence in priorities between the two groups. Thus even when a strategic initiative is taken to move towards the preferred future envisioned by the visionaries and foresight group, it dies down when immediate profits are not achieved by the people in charge of implementing those initiatives. There is very little follow up and tracking of future driven strategic initiatives as these are highly time consuming processes and viewed as an overhead.Unless a continuous evaluation regarding the relevance and changes in drivers is undertaken it is highly improbable that the scenarios will remain relevant in the long run. Scenarios should not be given a static character and instead need to be dynamically adapted along with changes in the assumptions and premises upon which it was based.Heuristics are strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving in human beings. E.g Rule of Thumb, Educated Guess or Common Sense.Confirmation Bias - tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypothesesCognitive Closure - desire for a confident judgment on an issue as compared to individual comfort with ongoing confusion and ambiguity. Poor Appreciation of conflicting information.What is needed is a culture of alternate analysis that would include the analysis of the outlying drivers that are generally overlooked or missed. This has to happen at all levels especially at the data analysis level.Morphological Analysis - can simplify the scenario process by giving the analysts the option to play around with the scenarios and see the impact without going into the time consuming process of rewriting the complete scenario.System Map - granular visualization of each driver’s stimulus and how it is swayed by other drivers. Futures Map - can enable global collaboration with a highly visual interface.
  • The system map feedback loop calculation and the morphological analysis of RAHS helped us identify the key drivers that affect Singaporean Multiculturalism. General feeling in the team that some drivers could be affected in short to medium term by direct legal or physical action whereas some others needed deeper thought and conscience based analysis and measures which would show results only over a longer period of time. This was achieved by the Four-quadrant model as it enabled to broadly categorise the drivers as either “Inner Individual”, “Outer Individual”, “Outer collective” and “Inner Collective”. This classification helped us to identify the drivers which could be changed by external measures like a shift in policy, legal or physical “Outer” measures and which ones needed to be addressed by understanding the “Inner” thought process behind the driver.
  • The intention of scenario of course is not to predict what the most possible future might be. Rather it is to explore many different alternatives that may emerge in the future. This helps policy makers in being better-prepared for facing the most uncertain and shocking surprises of the future.Since the context of Multiculturalism involves actors from various facets of the society and the Government, Scenarios present an easy to understand story-like narrative with which these actors can easily relate to.
  • Identifying these wild cards is a key challenge as there is hardly any evidence present about them. They are water-shed events with no previous incident being able to match their impact or scale. Although there are weak signals present for such occurrences they are either not identified or not given their due importance. These warnings usually neither permit an accurate estimation of their impact nor enable a determination of an effective response to any dramatic event that they lead to. In the Singapore multiculturalism context identifying wild cards and weak signals are highly critical in maintaining the peace and stability especially because of its small size, high immigrant population, and diverse and delicate ethnic composition. Any sudden disturbance which is remotely recognized as racial or communal in nature can destabilize the multiracial environment of Singapore which may in turn jeopardize the political and economic stability of the city-state.

Mosaic - Protecting the Multi-racialism of Singapore Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Mosaic – Protecting the Multi-racialism of Singapore Sarita, Ivana, Andrew, Shubra
  • 2. Outline  Introduction  Key Findings  Challenges faced and mitigation  Methods Used – 4 Quadrant, Scenarios  Systems Map  Wild Cards  Scenario Snapshot – Worst Case, Best Case,…  Conclusion and Way Forward
  • 3. Introduction  What is Multiculturalism?  The degree of multiculturalism: assimilation, segregation, integration  Integration Hard & Mild  Current approach of Singapore: Hard multiculturalism (take further the ethnic differences to be preserved. This policy “supports the protection of minority rights through institutional recognition of cultural difference in the public sphere including political representations.” )
  • 4. Singaporean Hard Multiculturalism  Language education  Different channel for strengthening social integrity: MENDAKI, SINDA and CDAC  CMIO : 78 % Chinese, 12% Malay, 7 % Indian, and Others
  • 5. Current Trends  the Inclusiveness Index fo Singaporeans increased by 19.6 percent from 47.5 percent in 2007 to 67.1 percent in 2011  total population of Singapore is at 5.18 million. This number was composed of 3,79 residents which consisted of 3.26 million citizens and 0.53 million permanent residents (PR) and 1.39 foreigners  In the 2011, the Chinese remains at the 74 percent of the number of total residents. The Malay and the Indian are 13 percent and 9.2 respectively.  Recent IPS Survey: 2000 respondents saying that the most defining character of Singaporean-ness is respect for the practices of different races and religions; new immigrants should be well- employed and “get along with their neighbours” , keep maintaining their foreign cultures
  • 6. Alerts! (key findings)  the lost of votes of the ruling party in 2011 general election was partly attributed to the issue of immigration; 52 percent of Singaporeans felt that immigration was an important issue in the election.  26 percent Singaporeans who felt that the existence of the foreigners in Singapore affected their economy  “the proportion of those who felt they were worse off by the foreigners was the highest in the 21-29 years old segment .  the proportion of those who felt they were worse off by the foreigners was the largest in the lowest income segment ($0 - $1999 and $2000 - $4999)
  • 7. While the aggregate statistics remain (relatively) solid ...  Issues of social gap and youth  The Curry Case  The Slashing incident
  • 8. Challenges Faced and Mitigation  Challenges  Reluctance to Accept Changes  Effectively Communicating to wide variety of Stakeholders  Gaps between Planners and Implementers  Lack of follow up and tracking of Strategic Initiatives  Complexity induced inertia for continuously adapting the scenarios  Heuristic judgement, Confirmation biases and Cognitive dissonance  Mitigation – Tools like Morphological Analysis, System Map, and Futures Map
  • 9. Morphological Analysis
  • 10. System Map
  • 11. Methods Used – 4 Quadrant
  • 12. Methods Used –Scenarios  Explore many different alternatives that may emerge in the future.  Better-prepared for facing the most uncertain and shocking surprises of the future.  Easy to understand story-like narrative with which actors can easily relate to.  The four main steps that went into our scenario building process were :  Establishing the foundational assumptions upon which the scenario is constructed  Capture the vast number of possible drivers that could affect Multiculturalism.  Identify and analyse key drivers including wild cards – Assisted by Systems Maps  Test and Build complete scenarios based on these key drivers and wild cards – assisted by Morphological Analysis
  • 13. System Maps
  • 14. Wild Cards  “Low Probability, High Impact Events that happen quickly” - John L. Petersen  Three key characteristics:  Direct Impact on Human Condition  Has broad, large, important and sometimes fundamental implications  Moves too fast for the whole system to adjust to the shock.  Problem of Identification as there is hardly any evidence  Importance for Singapore weak signals are highly critical in maintaining the peace and stability especially because of its small size, high immigrant population, and diverse and delicate ethnic composition.  Example - Emergence of Gangs and Mafia, Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism, Critical Infrastructure Damage
  • 15. Preferred Scenario for Singapore multiculturalism (next 30 years)  the elimination of politically-correct ethnic division among Singaporeans (CMIO) by the government and achieving a seamless integration between the different ethnic groups within the Singaporean as well as the immigrant population. However, each of this ethnic group is entitled to practice their cultural and religious activities and beliefs.
  • 16.  the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 + further integration of global economy -> increasing domestic demand of work forces -> foreign talent + foreign workers + immigration policy -> high influx of immigrants -> strengthen Singapore economy -> loss job opportunity for Singaporean -> destabilization of social , political and economic stability -> unconducive environment as the level of integration of this foreigners are very low -> increasing social & political engagement - > demand for limiting the number of foreign talents -> at the economic realm, certain ethnic group might have the perception that the government privilege the other ethnic group limitation in the number of immigrants -> the immigrants has to go through induction and selection process -> the maintenance of multiracial stability (the limited incoming foreign talents are given rights at par with Singaporeans) -> language barriers are reduced by the used of one single operating language for everyone. government invites their citizens to participate in the DMP -> the use of social media platform (exclusive to Singapore) -> increase socio-political participation of its citizens + immigrants -> consequently, the government can take proactive measures to address social problems -> this participative DMP leads to chaos (clash of interests) -> synergy of govt policies this experience -> Singapore govt has realized that the existence of ethnic division among Singaporeans is very detrimental.
  • 17. Scenario Snapshot – Worst Case  Frequent Global Economic Crisis -> Shift to Regional Trade Agreements -> Greater Regional Stability -> Downgrading Port Security due to reduced regional security concerns -> Decrease in revenue from foreign trade -> Rising Unemployment at Ports-> Increase in organized crime (gangs/mafia) -> Use of services of such gangs by terrorist organizations - > Strict legal action against Gangs -> Misinformation spread by terrorists using social media that the Govt. is targeting a specific ethnic community -> Certain communities stage protests -> Government tries to pacify the enraged communities -> However terrorist selectively detonate bombs at critical communal establishments and successfully incite communal violence -> Govt. is accused of deliberately giving less protection to minorities-> Ethnic and Communal Violence Erupts mostly among migrant community -> The government declares a state of emergency and deports immigrants -> Home countries of immigrants protest against deportation however economic interdependence saves the day -> an uneasy calmness prevails -> Govt. gradually cuts down on immigration, but unfortunately cannot stop emigration as unemployed Singaporeans relocate to emerging markets with strong and stable domestic economies -> Govt. tries to retain talent by announcing tax cuts and housing benefits -> But extensive reputational damage results in slow and gradual recovery
  • 18. Scenario Snapshot – Wild Cards  Examples :  Socio-Political Disengagement -> Emergence of Gangs and Mafia -> Corruption -> Social Media Activism -> Socio- Political Engagement -> Transparency -> Social Instability -> Racial Instability -> Government Reforms -> Participatory decision making -> Greater Nationalism -> Stable Multiracialism  Cyber Terrorism -> Critical Infrastructure Damage -> Consumer Activism -> Socio – Political Engagement -> Participative Decision Making -> Greater Political Chaos -> Reputational Damage -> Economic Instability -> Emergence of Gangs and Mafia -> Gang Wars -> Social Instability -> Govt. Clampdown -> Temporary and Uneasy Calm Prevails
  • 19. Conclusion & Way Forward •Ethnic Segregation might put a frame in the minds of Singaporeans and Immigrants that they are different from each other. This fact can be easily exploited by external disruptive agents or internal anti- social agents. •The Singapore government should not take steps that causes communal segregation and distinguishes one from the other. Instead they should try to re-engage the society in the decision making process using a participative approach to governance and make policies which encourage seamless integrative multiculturalism. •Way Forward:  Analyze impacts of Domestic Policies on Ethnic and Communal Stability.  Encourage Socio-Political Participation  Follow up, Track and Dynamically Modify Scenarios and Strategic Initiatives to factor the changes in the relevance of drivers.
  • 20. THANK YOU!