Regardless of race, language or religion — that’s a line Singaporeans have had to utter every morning during our school days. But reciting the national pledge hasn’t stopped some from viewing each other solely through ethnic lenses.
On May 23, a woman shone a light on discriminatory practices in the rental market here, sharing screengrabs of several property listings on Carousell that were not hiding the fact that they prefer a specific race for tenants.
In her Twitter thread, she said she also came across listings that would immediately put one out of the reckoning should they belong to a particular race.
Screengrab: Carousell listing
In most of the listings she outed, those belonging to the minority races were often the ones on the losing end.
It was common to see “no Indians” in the description of room rental listings. Foreigners, such as Chinese nationals, were also subject to this discrimination.
In her tweet, the woman mentioned just how amazed she was at the overtness of the display of racism and xenophobia in these ads.
“They just admitted that they cannot love (sic) harmoniously with other races,” she tweeted.
The woman was also quick to correct some misconceptions. She suggested that the discrimination seen in these listings could be due to the opinions of the property owner and not necessarily that of the property agent.
However, she said that the property agent who put up the listings is still “a compliant mouthpiece that sees this racism as normal and just part of her job”.
She went on to say: “It’s hilarious how these people will claim that Singapore is racially harmonious but will not welcome a different race into their home.”
As the Twitter thread gained traction, a fellow Twitter user urged her to report such displays of racial discrimination to the authorities.
But who exactly should she turn to? That was a question raised by another Twitter user, asking if such cases are best dealt with by going to Carousell or to the police.
Carousell removes listings, Warns User
In response to AsiaOne’s queries, Tan Su Lin, chief of staff and vice president of operations at Carousell said the platform has removed the listings from their marketplace as it violates their community guidelines.
She added that Carousell does not condone offensive and discriminatory behaviour. As such, a formal warning has been issued to said user.
The platform will also ramp up efforts to accurately detect and review listings with discriminatory behaviour early.
AsiaOne has also reached out to the woman but did not receive a response by the time of writing.
Racial discrimination in property rental market
Unfortunately, the issue of landlords picking tenants based on their race is rather common in Singapore.
Last August, a renter went off on social media after a property agent implied that Indians and Malays can’t keep houses clean while she was enquiring about renting a flat.
According to PropertyGuru, there are many room rental ads that state a racial preference, usually for Singaporean Chinese tenants. This makes it harder for the minority races to find a place to live in.
Although publishing discriminatory property listings is highly discouraged, it is not illegal.
While agents and landlords are now more cautious about using discriminatory language in listings, PropertyGuru noted that unfair tenancy practices still persist in Singapore.
Some have turned to using phrases such as “no strong cooking smell” or “prefer the same cultural background” to cover up racial bias.
Results from a 2020 Nanyang Technological University field experiment on racial discrimination against prospective tenants also pointed towards a similar direction.
Their findings, with data collected from 408 listings, showed that landlords have significant discrimination against minority races.
“On average, the Malay and Indian profiles are half as likely to receive positive responses for room availability than the Chinese profile,” the abstract read.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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