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Proportion of inter-ethnic marriages almost doubles

SINGAPORE — The proportion of inter-ethnic marriages has almost doubled from a decade ago, to make up one in five marriages last year, latest figures released by the Singapore Department of Statistics showed.

SINGAPORE — The proportion of inter-ethnic marriages has almost doubled from a decade ago, to make up one in five marriages last year, latest figures released by the Singapore Department of Statistics showed.

Specifically, inter-ethnic marriages were more prevalent with Muslim marriages at 32.1 per cent compared with 18.2 per cent among civil marriages. About a quarter of the 1,630 inter-ethnic Muslim marriages last year involved grooms who are Malays and brides who fall into the “Others” ethnic group, which includes foreign nationalities and all ethnic groups excluding Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Caucasians and Malays.

Explaining the greater proportion of Malay Muslims finding suitable spouses outside their racial group, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol, Mr Zainal Sapari, said: “The Malay Muslims used to be a very closed group. But I think with better education and better qualifications and better income, their circle of friends has become bigger.”

Of the 3,865 inter-ethnic civil marriages last year, 47.4 per cent were between Chinese grooms and brides of the “Others” ethnic group. The second most common ethnic combination was Caucasian grooms and Chinese brides at 13.1 per cent.

Ms Anita Fam, a Families for Life council member, said inter-ethic marriages — not only between major racial groups in Singapore, but also with different nationalities — is to be expected. “The world is a smaller place. And what would have been totally unusual two generations ago is far more acceptable in this day and age,” she said.

However, she added that couples in inter-ethnic marriages may need extra preparation and support to better understand each other’s cultures, as they will encounter more challenges than couples of the same race and beliefs.

CORRECTION: We reported that about a quarter of the 1,630 inter-ethnic Muslim marriages last year involved spouses who fall into the “Others” ethnic group. This is incorrect. The figure refers only to marriages involving Malay grooms and brides who fall into the “Others” ethnic group. We apologise for the error.

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