Conversations on Singapore Spirit (Session 2 - 15 June 2021)
The second session of the conversation series was held on 15 June 2021 via Zoom, involving 100 students from various Polytechnics and the following panellists:
- MOS Alvin Tan
- Ms Yip Pin Xiu – NYC Council Member and Team Singapore Athlete
- Mr Aiken Chia – Actor, Content Creator of Night Owl Cinematics
- Ms Veronica Shanti Pereira – Team Singapore Athlete
Here are the key insights of the conversation raised by the students:
Racial harmony should never be taken for granted
- Participants said that multiculturalism was the foundation of our national identity and was concerned about the recent spate of racist incidents. While participants noted that pandemic-induced stressors might have caused these incidents, they were aware of the resultant negative impacts on Singapore’s social fabric. They called for Singaporeans to condemn racist incidents and work to undo biases that contribute to such behaviour.
- Participants affirmed that inclusivity exists in Singapore and many shared their experiences of intercultural interactions such as sharing food and playing sports at the void deck with neighbours from different cultures. They further underlined the need to understand different races and maintain racial harmony. Ms Pereira shared that although Singaporeans have improved and become more inclusive, it is still a continual process that we need to work on as a nation.
Uniting as a nation during the pandemic
- Including people of all stripes – Participants said that it was important to be inclusive towards all members of society. While they acknowledged the efforts made to increase inclusivity (e.g. via support schemes or accessibility features on public transport etc), they noted that there was still room to improve.
- Safeguarding our mental health – Participants acknowledged the isolating effects of the pandemic and the resultant toll on mental well-being. They said there was a possible link between deteriorating mental health and increased societal strife.
Ms Yip emphasised the importance of mental health awareness and support to encourage people to seek help when needed. MOS Tan echoed this and called for participants to stay connected through other means given physical distancing measures.
- Maintaining racial harmony through sharing food, arts and culture – Participants said that people from different backgrounds should learn about each other’s cultures, and asked what more could be done to maintain racial harmony.
Mr Chia shared his experience trying paru (beef lung) after being encouraged by a nasi padang aunty, and said he learnt a lot about different traditions and cultures in the process. MOS Tan agreed that food was a powerful unifier, along with sports, arts and culture.
Singaporeans have shown care for others amidst the crisis
- Participants said that while the pandemic revealed negative behaviours such as hoarding or intolerance, there had also been an outpour of care and generosity, and cited various initiatives to encourage healthcare workers and support migrant workers. They also observed that these acts of quiet kindness were often small and unnoticed as compared to the virality of sensational negative incidents online.