Singaporeans should continue treating each other with care and respect, regardless of race, language and religion, the minister said in light of recent incidents.
Recent events have sparked concerns on racism as they go against what we stand for in Singapore, said Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Jun 7).
Mr Chan, who is also the Minister in-charge of Public Service, added in his Facebook post that “multi-racialism is not a concept, but our daily lived reality and source of pride.”
The events that Mr Chan was referring to were one in which an Indian woman was allegedly attacked and insulted with a racial slur as well as another where a man allegedly directed racist remarks towards an interracial couple.
In the first incident, which happened on May 7, a Chinese couple had allegedly approached a Indian woman to ask her to wear her mask properly. When the woman explained she was brisk walking, the man allegedly made an offensive racial remark and assaulted her, causing her to fall.
The man was arrested “for public nuisance, uttering words with intent to wound the racial feelings of others and voluntarily causing hurt”, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on May 11.
In the second incident, a mixed-race couple were told to date people of their own race by another man. The man claiming to be a Singaporean Chinese was filmed by the couple, an Indian-Filipino man and a Singaporean Chinese-Thai girl, saying: “I’ve got nothing against you personally but I think it’s racist that the Indian prey on Chinese girl.”
The video, which lasted over nine minutes, was uploaded onto social media subsequently. A police report has been lodged against the 60 year-old man who assisted with investigations.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in a Facebook post on Sunday what he saw in the video is “quite unacceptable” and “very worrying”.
Mr Chan said in his post that one in four marriages are between couples of different races.
“In Singapore, multi-racialism is not a concept, but our daily lived reality and source of pride. It is a constant work-in-progress, which we never take for granted nor will we ever give up,” he wrote.
“Most of us have grown up living in close proximity with neighbours of different races. We study and work side by side with classmates and colleagues of various ethnicities, and have forged close friendships and familial ties. In national service, we pledge to defend Singapore and fellow Singaporeans regardless of background.”
Mr Chan stressed on the importance for Singaporeans to stand united as a community, especially now as we collectively fight against COVID-19. As lives and livelihoods are being disrupted, what we need most is to serve and show care for others in our community, he said.
“Racial intolerance goes against our founding values as a nation, and has no place in our society. Every one of us – parents, educators, individuals – play a part in safeguarding the treasured and hard-earned legacy of racial harmony. Our diversity has always been our strength, and we must never let it become our Achilles’ Heel,” Mr Chan added.
“Let us continue to treat one another with care and respect, regardless of race, language or religion.”
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