Daddy’s Data

Should the state disaggregate data by race? Does such data disaggregation reinforce racial stereotypes or help to uplift disadvantaged groups? Shannon Ang, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, proposes three principles for deciding how and when to release race-based data: (1) recognize that race is a social construct, (2) know when race-based data is useful, and when it is not, and (3) contextualize race-based data with more data. Her article elucidates the three principles beautifully with clear explanations and useful illustrations.

Will the Singapore state heed her advice? Judging by the parliamentary debate on racism in Singapore, it looks highly unlikely. The People’s Action Party government stubbornly defended its existing race-based policies and falsely accused the Opposition of fanning racial hatred by raising these important questions in parliament. This is a familiar stance adopted by the government towards its critics inside and outside of parliament. Debates about data are unavoidably entangled in politics because data is not used merely for research and problem solving, as in the ideal university, but is used to govern.

When a government has consistently adopted a posture of authoritarian benevolence, it will decide by itself and for its own benefit how and when to release race-based data. Not only does Daddy know best, but Daddy wants to remain Daddy, although a democracy is not a traditional household, and should not be run like one. In addition to the clarifications of mainstream sociology, we need a feminist-Marxist analysis of power relations between state and citizens. How can we recognize the neuroses and paranoias of society if we fail to account for castration anxieties? One the legislative front, the debate about race shows more clearly than ever how much we need a Freedom of Information Act in Singapore.


Jee Leong Koh





6 Responses to “Daddy’s Data”

  • Temusik Patriot:

    Racism was amplified by non other than the Great Con, aptly named Lie Con You lah!!…ashame of his Malay blood n Hakka dialect…he purifies himself by being more Chinese than the Chinese wearing ethnic Chinese tunic when the Chinese are wearing western garb…that is the Gab with Cobra tongue n “ngiow chu bak” eyes of a RAT

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  • POFMA you then you know ah!:

    Because every societal issue or genuine grievance must be subsumed under the all-embracing vested interests of the Pappy Global Incorporated $tate… where educated sheeples earn the right to work and bleat but their CPF is not their CPF but the $tate’s capital fund pool. Any “race issue” or any thing else, must not compromise the willingness of the sheeple population in general to continue under the $tatus quo of the Emperor Dowager and their elitist court of self-entitled Papeconomics members.

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  • opposition dude:

    It’s good that PAP sticks to its old ways unwilling to change because it makes it that much easier for the younger generations to vote for the opposition. The PAP don’t know how to connect with the younger generations and stubbornly continues its stance about Singapore not closing its doors to foreigners. Oh well.

    So just keep doing things in the way you know how to PAP, you definitely need another wakeup call.

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  • Freedom of Information Act:

    No,no, no, no, no. We don’t need a Freedom of Information Act.

    What we really need is Freedom from PAP.

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  • panda:

    WP ,please table a bill to stop FAKE STATS.

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  • Harder Truths:

    There will always be all kinds of data. Race -based or otherwise. Sometimes it is useful like in medicine. Sometimes it has no value like in employing people fairly and at other times it makes a lot of difference (like CECA). It all depends on context and how society deals with the data.

    When the regime gets involved race is used as a weapon to serve their agenda and create conflict or make dishonest conclusions about emplyment (such as not allowing CECA is racist etc.)

    Separate the data from the regime and things will improve drastically. Continue with the regime and any problem will become a ‘race’ issue.

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