According to The Singapore Department of Statistics, the population of Singapore in the middle of 2008 is 4.839 million, of which 3.642 million are Singapore residents. Among the 3.642 million residents, 3.164 million are Singapore citizens while the rest are Singapore permanent residents. “Singapore citizens” in this essay follows the official definition, does not refer to all Singapore residents, i.e. not include permanent residents.
Singapore is a multi-racial state where different ethnic groups can live together without strife. Different Chinese ethnic groups form 75.2% of Singapore’s residents, Malays form 13.6%, Indians form 8.8%, Eurasians and other groups form 2.4%. In such plural society, how do these Singapore citizens become Singaporeans?
The People’s Action Party (PAP) government has been developing its control over Singapore since the independence of the city-state. Besides concentrating on economic development to seek for social stability, its social engineering agenda have been multiracialism, national identity and meritocracy. It used housing, education and family policies to achieve its objectives.
Multiracialism, in the most general sense, it means an attempt at creating a society that did not allow the issue of race to divide people and that tried to erase the heritage of colonial communalism. (Trocki, Carl A., 2006: 139) It is the ideoglogy that accords equal status to the cultures and ethnic identities of the various “races” that are regarded as comprising the population of a plural society. (Geoffrey Benjamin, 1976) It is an ideology that promotes a society composed of various races, while accepting and respecting different cultural backgrounds. The multiracialism justified the government’s structuring of education, housing and the new identity to which all Singaporeans were expected to subscribe. It was introduced to alleviate the conflicts and disparities between different races in plural...