Race, Multicultural Accomodation and the Constitutions of Singapore and Malaysia
C. L. Lim
I propose to question Dr. Ramraj’s recent argument in this Journal that September 11th has “exposed
the increase in ethnic tensions in Singapore and Malaysia”, and that there have been “divisive social
consequences” for these two countries. I question his prescription that “for Singapore . . . policies
and legislation based on race should be abolished” and that the “same may be said of Malaysia”.
Finally, I question his argument that legal and policy assistance in respect of any group can only
be made in a politically neutral way, and that traditional group traits should be held hostage
to individual moral choice. Dr. Ramraj prizes individual moral self-authorship in a way which
dismisses the need to achieve substantive justice for the various communities in Singapore and
Malaysia, and which ignores the terms and histories of the constitutions of these two nations. His
arguments, even if not colour-blind, proceed from a version of constitutional colour-blindness, and
ignore the needs of identity and multi-culturalism in these two nations..

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