Singapore has become a role model for many other countries worldwide, for racial harmony. The main racial groups here, i.e. the Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians, with their varied religious beliefs and ethnic practices, are all able to live together, side by side – without much problems.
And racial harmony in Singapore today, is reflected in more mixed marriages taking place too. For example, one in five marriages was an inter-race marriage in 2012 – this was up from one in eight marriages ten years ago, in 2001. It is a good sign for Singapore’s future – and shows that Singaporeans are getting more tolerant of other races.
Racial Riots in Singapore’s Past
However this wasn’t always the case in Singapore though – especially in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, the 1964 Race Riots form a huge part of Singaporean history – this had taken place on 21 July, the day of the celebrating of the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday and by the end of the riots, 36 were dead and more than 500 people were injured. The Maria Hertogh Riots in 1950, were also another major religious riots primarily between Catholics and Muslims, that had left 18 dead and 173 people injured.
Singapore owes its racial harmony today to the late Mr Lee
The Singapore of today definitely owes much to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew for the racial harmony that the country enjoys. In fact, since Singapore’s independence in 1965, Mr Lee had always been a strong advocate of encouraging Singaporeans of different racial and religious groups to interact together and to respect one another’s ethnic beliefs and practices.
And over the decades, this level of co-operation amongst races and religions had caught on amongst Singaporeans to create the multi-racial Singapore of today. But with Mr Lee’s recent passing in March, it is now up to the current generation of Singaporeans to continue this legacy that Mr Lee has left behind, for example, respecting people who are from different racial and religious backgrounds and to not only mix with our own racial and religious group.
Fortunately though, these beliefs have been well ingrained into Singaporeans – and to fortify such values of racial harmony even further, there is not only the National Pledge which Singapore students recite every day at school, but also Racial Harmony Day – which is widely celebrated in schools today. So because of these practices, I am sure that Singapore will continue to remain successful in terms of racial harmony.
And I am definitely grateful to be living in Singapore today, with its multi-racial beliefs. When I was young, I admit that I may have taken Singapore’s inter-racial harmony for granted. Some years spent overseas has opened my eyes to racism activities that can take place.
For example, in one country, news sources there, reported of job discriminations. For example, if you have a name which reflects a certain ethnic group, you may be put at the bottom of the job application pile. And the news also reported of social discrimination where people were welcomed to join social groups – but only if they were of the same ethnic groupings.
In Singapore, people can be good friends with anyone – without being cast aside because of the colour of their skin or the language that they speak.
Racial harmony exists in the sporting community
In the sporting community too, the evidence of racial harmony, and different races co-existing together well, certainly takes place. For example, we have well-respected sports heroes coming from all types of racial backgrounds, such as legendary footballer Fandi Ahmad who is Malay, sprinting legend C Kunalan who is Indian and swimming legend Joscelin Yeo, who is Chinese.
If these past sporting heroes had been living in a country where racial discrimination exists, these guys may never have been able to develop their sporting interests in the first place – let alone becoming the sporting heroes that they are today.
The Orange Ribbon Run to Promote a Multi-Racial Society
The upcoming Orange Ribbon Run – a Race Against Racism, to promote understanding, appreciation and trust amongst Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society – is a great opportunity for Singaporeans to come out and make a stand to promote racial harmony.
And to ensure continued racial harmony in Singapore, events such as the Orange Ribbon Run – Race Against Racism is very important for reminding Singaporeans of this message.
This year, I am privileged to be an Orange Ribbon Run – Race Against Racism ambassador. The cause that the run stands for, is something that I feel strongly about. I believe that events such as the run, will go a long way to continue to forge racial harmony amongst Singaporeans – the legacy that the late Mr Lee has left behind.
other blog posts
- Mr Lee Kuan Yew passes away
- A long waiting time to pay respects to Mr Lee
- Running 91km to Say Thank You to Mr Lee
- Singapore’s GO50 runners achieve 2,500km target