On the evening of 22nd April 2010, Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD) held discussions with the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
The SFD delegation – Dr. James Gomez, Seelan Palay, Rachel Zeng and Martyn See – met with the UN Rapporteur, Githu Muigai, who was accompanied by his assistant Anh Thu Duong from the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
SFD handed a written submission to the Rapporteur at the start of the discussions.
These are photos of the meeting.
The progress and challenges of ethnic and religious communities here, as well as how the Republic manages racial and religious harmony, was the focus of a fact-finding mission in Singapore on Thursday.
United Nations expert on racism and xenophobia, Mr Githu Muigai, met members of the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony and the chief executives from self-help groups to get their views.
Mr Muigai, who is here at the invitation of the government, also met members of the political association Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD) in the evening.
The group’s pro-tem president, Dr James Gomez, told reporters later that two international conventions on racism and racial discrimination was one issue Mr Muigai said he had raised with the government.
Singapore has yet to ratify the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Mr Muigai is waiting to hear if the government would do so, said Dr Gomez.
Dr Gomez said that the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Tolerances was also “very interested” in Singapore’s Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system during his meeting with SFD.
“He wanted to understand how the placement of ethnic minorities within the GRC system helped enhance minority representation,” said Dr Gomez, whose group had earlier given Mr Muigai a list of concerns about discrimination. SFD will also provide him published works on the GRC system.
Mr Muigai, who will speak to the media at the end of his trip next week, reacted positively to a suggestion to gradually remove race from one’s identity card, said SFD member Seelan Palay.
“We hope his final report will be of value, as it will be a public document that … civil society can draw on,” said Dr Gomez.
“But I go away with the feeling that when it comes to race and racial issues and the politics of discrimination, Singaporeans have to empower themselves politically.”