In intercultural romance, Malay and Indian Singaporeans prefer their children and grandchildren to date Chinese and Caucasians, according to a new study.
Among Malays, 91.2% in the 26 to 35 age group are comfortable with their offspring dating Chinese, followed by Caucasians (85.7%) and Indians (81.3%).
Among Indians, 89.3% in the same age category are comfortable with their offspring dating Chinese, followed by Caucasians (87.5%) and Malays (75.4%).
For the Chinese, 64.6% were comfortable about their offspring dating Malays, with Indians at 56.5% and Caucasians at 74.5%.
According to researchers, 95% of respondents were comfortable with their children and grandchildren being with a Chinese person and 75% were fine with Caucasians.
Only 65% were comfortable with their children or grandchildren going out with Malays, and 61% were okay with their young ones dating Indians.
The study, conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Channel NewsAsia, surveyed 2,020 respondents sampled randomly by geography. The poll ran from May to July 2017.
Dr. Mathew Mathews, senior research fellow at the IPS, said that the findings show how Singapore is still not the “multicultural nirvana” in some people’s eyes. He told reporters on Wednesday (via The Straits Times):
“Some would say this is prejudice or it could just be the sense that because culture continues to be seen as an important aspect of people’s future and how their children are brought up, and the avoidance of all sorts of clashes and issues (in future).”
While findings suggest high interest in another group, less than half of the respondents participate in activities and practices of others, such as eating with bare hands.
Understanding between racial groups is also limited. Chinese and Indian respondents, for instance, are less likely to understand the importance of several beliefs and practices in the Muslim community, such as avoiding alcohol and touching dogs.
Dr. Mathews commented (via Channel NewsAsia):
“When we asked every community to rank what would be important to another community, the tendency was to not know how important some of those items may have been. That happens, especially when you don’t participate enough in festivals, or the rituals of important ceremonies of each of these communities. The more we get those opportunities, the better.”
For now, the researchers ponder whether more can be done to promote interaction and understanding across racial groups in Singapore.
“One takeaway is that while we care about our own ethnic identities, we need to learn how to respect and understand the important (ethnic) markers of other groups,” Dr. Mathews said.