For my second engagement, building on the school survey that I undertook earlier, I was able to arrange an interview with an associate researcher at the IPS (Institute of Policy Study) think tank, to help me get an academic’s perspective on the controversy surrounding the CMIO policy. Frankly, this engagement was far, far more difficult to arrange than the previous survey. I was turned down by 4 different academics from various different universities, ranging from SUSS to the sociology department of NUS. The justification provided for the abrupt declining of my offer was due to the questions being “sensitive in the political climate of coming elections”. I understand the trepidation that an academic might have in accepting an interview on such a sensitive topic, but I did not expect to be rejected as many times as I was. Nonetheless, despite the aforementioned setbacks and failed attempts, reaching out to the IPS was a good choice, as, ideally, an independent think-tank focused on objectively analysing public policy in Singapore would have been able to provide strong, unbiased answers to my questions. After some correspondence with one person at IPS, he eventually linked me to one of his colleagues, the man I interviewed for this engagement. Preceding the interview (which was done online, via Google Meets, and was recorded on my computer using Quicktime Player), I had a brief correspondence with him, sending the questions I would ask in the interview to verify that he was comfortable answering them (which he was). The interview itself went very smoothly; he was a very approachable and friendly person, and was clearly very knowledgeable on the CMIO policy and its applications. His concise answers forced me to reevaluate the necessity of the CMIO policy, and made me realise that, all this time, I had been analysing it from a very foreign perspective; one that viewed any sort of racial system or policy as inherently negative. The interview not only provided a very strong engagement, but also allowed me to widen my understanding a gain a valuable new perspective to use in my essay.
My Global Politics EA is, in truth, not my original plan; initially, I wanted to investigate the impacts and policies regarding the refugee crisis, and refugee management, in Italy. However, given that the COVID-19 situation has rendered an engagement activity in Italy an impossibility, I believe that my chosen engagement topic, that is, the CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Other) policy in Singapore, follows a very similar theme, and dips into many similar topics, as the refugee crisis. Both topics deal with the concepts of social integration, trans-ethnic harmony, and coexistence (though these elements are far more pronounced within my original idea of the refugee crisis, given that the refugees, and the countries they are immigrating to [in my case, Italy], have much less in common than the ethnicities of Singapore, united under a Singaporean national Identity). Because of this, while I was not able to pursue my chosen topic in Italy, I will be able to study a topic that is similar, though perhaps not as immediately salient, as the refugee crisis, here in Singapore. Furthermore, both topics regard matters of public policy and its impacts in facilitating and promoting ethnic harmony; for my Italian engagement, I wanted to meet with the city of Milan’s primary assessor of social policies regarding management and integration of refugees, and work at a refugee camp, to gain a firsthand perspective into the effects of said policies. Similarly, in Singapore, I hope, within my engagements, to gain a strong foundation, and a good perspective, on the effectiveness of efforts to promote racial harmony and strengthen the Singaporean national identity within the CMIO policy, as well as analysing the nature of many criticisms levelled against the policy.