Saving race

Racial Harmony Day
"My mother was a spider and my father was a clown"

Because it has always been our government’s policy to pay attention to matters of race and ethnicity, our identity cards and government records require that we be classified under different “races”.

Both my parents are Chinese, so there doesn’t seem to be anything complicated about that, even if you’re not comfortable with the notion of “race”. But when you have children of mixed parentage, that’s when it starts to become funny.

On Wednesday, an intern from The Straits Times called and stuttered his way for five minutes trying to explain to me that the ICA had changed the “by default the child’s race shall be that of the father’s” rule, and that from next year, parents were “free to choose their child’s race”.

I thanked the intern for this piece of information, upon which he stammered his way for another five minutes explaining that he needed me to answer a few questions for a story his supervisor/journalist was writing for Thursday’s Straits Times.

So I explained a little about how I had no interest in “changing Kai’s race”, because there’s not enough space in that field to put “Chinese-Japanese-Taiwanese-Dutch”.

But maybe Beatrice and Mark Richmond have a different perspective. Their son Sol is classified “English”, because the ICA of the day considered Grandpa Brian’s “race”, “English”.

And of course, we should have every confidence that the new scheme has been really well thought out and precludes the possibility of parents rorting the system for their child to obtain State benefits from Sinda and Mendaki, and that there won’t be a surge in the number of Malay-Indian children.