"No banglas, no maids, no uglies, no fakes/bots, no escorts," read the advertisement in a Facebook post for a dating app.
It sparked fury among netizens, who called out the ad from HighBlood for being racist.
Mr Lim Jialiang, 26, a chocolatier, told The New Paper: "It's not even exclusivity, it's racism.
"Let's not discount that some of these people, even maids and Bangladeshi workers, may also use the app to find love."
But HighBlood's founder, Mr Herbert Eng, 30, insisted he was not discriminating.
He said: "In Singapore, there is a certain racial preference when it comes to dating - we are merely responding to honest feedback that respondents have given us. Does having a racial preference in considering a life partner make one racist?"
A potential HighBlood user is required to fill in his or her personal details.
That person will then have to go through a "covenant", which is made up of five random existing users of the app. The potential user has to get at least three approvals before acceptance.
If they fail, they can pay $100 to join immediately or wait 12 hours to face the "covenant" again.
Mr Eng, who also founded the anonymous confessions app Fessup, said HighBlood's developers do not decide on who is allowed on the app.
"We only verify information and leave the yardsticks and judging to the users. The process of denying entry into HighBlood is also performed by existing users," he said.
"People do not want to waste time on unfavourable profiles. The time can be focused on conversations and chemistry between the users. The application will be as elitist as the users want it to be."
Mr Eng claimed that the app, which is expected to launch on iOS in two months, has more than 100 subscribers on the waiting list since December.
Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said that in sociology, there is a scale called social distance, which "measures the extent to which we would accept someone who is different from us, say, in terms of race".
He added: "In a perfect world, race wouldn't matter at all. But in a less-than-perfect world, even multicultural ones, it can figure in our choice. But this is no reason to condone having an app that is explicit in its racism, whatever its degree may be."
Nanyang Technological University Associate Professor Md Saidul Islam said: "It's more of a cultural preference rather than a racial preference, and when it comes to dating, it could be important.
"They should re-articulate the whole notion, because now these people will be very insulted. People may have different preferences, but that doesn't make it right to insult other people."
Dr Michael Netzley, a social media expert, said: "If there is no proper decision-making criteria, the mob will just go with their instincts.
"People who are actually good may not meet these standards, and this will create a shallow community."
Undergraduate Chloe Tong, 23, a regular Tinder user, said: "What HighBlood is doing is nothing new or revolutionary. But what they are saying is tactless."
This article was first published on Mar 23, 2017.
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