Singapore — As Singapore observed Racial Harmony Day on July 21, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat urged the country to value the religious and racial harmony it has.
Writing on his Facebook account, PM Lee greeted the nation, and also talked about how schools in Singapore celebrate Racial Harmony Day, “Our schools have been commemorating the occasion by dressing in ethnic costumes, putting up skits, and recalling our shared history of interracial relations.”
This he said, is “unique to Singapore,” because “we embrace our diversity and celebrate each other’s customs and cultures, but also remember the times when tensions between the ethnic and racial groups boiled over into conflict and violence.”
On a more sombre note, he talked about how this is not the situation in many other countries, where, he writes, “Race and religion have sadly become divisive fault lines.”
It is all the more important to value the peace and harmony that were worked hard for, so that our children and grandchildren may enjoy this as well. “We must treasure the harmony that we enjoy, and never let that happen here. We worked long and hard to arrive here, and we must work even harder to preserve this peace for future generations,” the Prime Minister wrote.
Happy Racial Harmony Day! Our schools have been commemorating the occasion by dressing in ethnic costumes, putting up…
On his part, the Deputy Prime Minister wrote about how delighted he is to see photos of young Singaporeans “decked out in traditional clothing to celebrate our different races.”
He posted photos of children dressed in different types of traditional garments that had been shared to him by “our PCF Sparkletots,” he wrote.
But then he got to the point of what racial harmony is all about—which is mutual respect.
“Of course, harmony is about much more than what we wear on the surface – it’s really about the respect for one another that we carry inside us, and the ways we behave to show that.”
He reminded everyone why July 21 matters. “This day remembers the race riots of 1964, and is an affirmation of our commitment to being a society where all races and cultures can live in peace and harmony.”
Therefore, he wrote, “Let us never take our precious racial harmony for granted.”
A few months ago, at a book launch, Mr Heng told an audience of around 170 people, mostly from the Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Malay communities how important it is to remember the unity between the different races and religions in Singapore’s history.
He said, “Over time, our different races and religions mixed with one another helped one another and forged a common understanding. The circles of trust expanded. Our pioneers knew that for us to survive as a nation, we cannot be divided as a nation.”
The Finance Minister then emphasised the need to celebrate diverse talents and ideas, and to stay open to innovations and collaboration.
“No one group or country has all the ideas or expertise to tackle the many challenges that the world is facing. In a world that is rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected, we need to remain open and collaborate to achieve better outcomes together. For a city-state like Singapore to thrive, businesses must continue to innovate and internationalise.” -/TISG