The number of inter-ethnic marriages in Singapore has increased over the years.
21.5% of all marriages in Singapore in 2016 were inter-ethnic marriages in Singapore. This represents a 3-fold increase from 1990, when the number of inter-ethnic marriages in Singapore was just 7.6% of the total number of marriages.
Despite inter-ethnic marriages in Singapore becoming more common, some couples still get strange looks in public and have difficulties overcoming parental objections.
Ms Sandy Cheng’s Taoist parents took 8 years to accept that their daughter was going to convert to Islam for her future husband, Muhd Fitri Khamis. Now, Ms Cheng’s mother cooks halal food and uses a separate set of cooking tools for the pair.
Mr Daryl Cheng and Ms Hema Padmanathan, Chinese and Indian respectively, were much luckier. Mr Cheng can speak basic Tamil and Ms Hema is fluent in Mandarin. Mr Cheng’s parents were so excited about their union that she built up a collection of saris when both families went to India for their pre-wedding preparations.
For couples who have different nationalities and races, there may be 2 sets of problems. Mr Abhiram Patel (Indian national) and Ms Angela Ng (Singaporean Chinese) had their Chinese wedding in Singapore and Indian ceremony in India in 2016, 2 months apart.
Ms Ng’s parents felt that there would be too many “cultural clashes” while Mr Patel’s parents felt that a “traditional Indian lady” would understand him better.
See: Toh Ee Ming and Joey Chua, “Mixed-race couples brave the odds for acceptance”, Today, 8 August 2017
Every couple has their ups and downs. It is about working together to overcome them. Couples in inter-ethnic marriages may face more difficulties due to parental objections or cultural differences. More effort may be needed to make it work.