Hindu Fundamentalism in Singapore

By Norman Vasu and Terri-Anne Teo

Executive Summary

This report examines the presence of Hindu fundamentalism in Singapore as determined by expressions of support for the 12 goals of modern Hindu fundamentalism. Although no group or individual interviewed supported all the 12 goals, there was some benign support for five of the goals. Benign support refers to support unanchored to a Hindu fundamentalist agenda. Conversely, malignant support refers to support rooted in a Hindu fundamentalist agenda. While benign support for goals in Singapore could be traced to cultural, practical, and personal reasons, there were also respondents who did not support these five goals.

Three policy implications follow from the findings:

  1. The five goals with some benign support would be worthy of deeper study.
  2. The impact of Hindu fundamentalism would be felt in Singapore should benign support turn malignant.
  3. It would be prudent to establish a policy position on these goals, and plan for scenarios where benign support turns malignant.

About the Authors

Norman Vasu is Senior Fellow and Deputy Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore. He is the author of How Diasporic Peoples Maintain their Identity in Multicultural Societies: Chinese, Africans, and Jews (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008), co-author of Singapore Chronicles: Multiracialism (Institute of Policy Studies and Straits Times Press, 2018), editor of Social Resilience in Singapore: Reflections from the London Bombings (Select Publishing, 2007), co-editor of Nations, National Narratives and Communities in the Asia Pacific (Routledge, 2014), Immigration in Singapore (Amsterdam University Press, 2015), and DRUMS: Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation, and Smears (World Scientific Press, 2019). His research on multiculturalism, ethnic relations, narratives of governance, citizenship, immigration, and national security have been published in journals such as Asian Survey, Asian Ethnicity, Journal of Comparative Asian Development and The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, and in a number of edited volumes. He was a Fulbright Fellow with the Center for Strategic Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University in 2012, a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Takshashila Institution, Bangalore, India, in 2016 and at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2018.

Terri-Anne Teo is a Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She holds a PhD in Politics and an MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests include multiculturalism, citizenship, migration and identity politics. Her most recent publications include a monograph titled Civic Multiculturalism in Singapore: Revisiting Citizenship, Rights and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), a co-edited volume titled Postcolonial Governmentalities: Rationalities, Violences and Contestations (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2020) and journal articles in Global Society and Asian Studies Review on multiculturalism and perceptions of meritocracy in Singapore respectively.

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