Have you heard of Singapore’s new Race Law?

Apparently, an upcoming law on racial harmony is in the works.

The Editor | Sept. 6, 2021 | 406 reads
Have you heard of Singapore’s new Race Law?
Credit: InSingapura.com

The new law, the Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act will introduce sanctions, some non-punitive, to influence Singapore’s behaviour. This is according to Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

The Act was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally (August 29).

There has been an increase in reported racist incidents amid the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Minister Shanmugam, “The focus must really be to try and get people to understand each other better, and get on better."

The new racial harmony law will be modelled after the 31-year-old Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA). This remedial initiative will allow offenders to mend ties through public or private apology to the aggrieved parties, or by partaking in inter-religious events.

If you can recall, PM Lee has also highlighted new guidelines against employment discrimination. To recap, here are some of the highlights of PM Lee's speech during the National Day Rally 2021:

1. To generate new jobs. Calling the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst economic crisis since independence, he said that the move is now "...about generating new growth, jobs and prosperity for the future." The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) believes that Singapore will also do well. To do this, Singapore must remain a business hub, drawing in foreign investments.

2. Improving the salary of lower wage workers.

3. Ensuring less discrimination and fairness at the workplace. PM Lee said that the criteria for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders will continue to be tightened so Singaporeans will have close to zero competition.

4. A new law on Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act to consolidate deal with racial issues.

The Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act

This 31 year old statute was intended to promote racial harmony in diverse Singapore. The The Act was passed on 9 November 1990 and enforced on 31 March 1992.

It gives power to the Minister for Home Affairs to issue restraining orders against persons who are in a position of authority in any institution or religious group if they commit any of the following acts:

1. Cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different religious groups.
2. Promote political cause, carry out subversive activities, sharing dissatisfaction of the Singapore government or the president under the guise of propagating religious belief.

Restraining orders may also be issued against people who incite, instigate or encourages religious leaders or groups to commit similar acts.

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