As we prepare to celebrate with the rest of our fellow-citizens our nation’s Fifty-third National Day, I would like to share this brief personal statement on the issue of
tolerance and harmony in Singapore
In a discussion held on the issue of living in harmony in OnePeople.Sg, one paragraph reads as follows:
From schools to public housing and National Service, we have infused our public institutions with opportunities for Singaporeans of different backgrounds to come together, understand one another and respect our society’s rich diversity.
That is a valiant idea … “come together, understand and respect” our diversity--a diversity that could be both our strength and our weakness. What will make the difference?
“In Singapore, we start with the irrefutable proposition that the alternative to multi-racialism … is genocide in varying degrees” says the late Mr S. Rajaratnam (1959-1965) when he was the then Minister for Culture.
The nation’s founding leaders were well aware of the fragility of our social harmony, and of the real possibility of fracture in a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
Over the years, three fundamental principles are promoted to maintain social harmony; these are:
- Multiculturalism: Different ethnic groups were encouraged to come together as one united people without giving up their cultural heritage or beliefs.
- Secularism: Backed by the rule of law, the State is secular, but not against religion. Everyone has the right to practise their religion freely.
- Meritocracy: Opportunities are bestowed based on individual merit and performance, without bias to any race, creed or social-economic background.
We should wholeheartedly support these and do our level best to strive for harmony. To this I would add the Christian ethics of love and tolerance, which is our calling. Without them there can’t be harmony.
Happy birthday Singapore!
Pastor Robert Chew