Cast prejudices aside to keep extremism at bay

Political editor Zakir Hussain hit the nail on the head when he emphasised that the "us versus them" mindset was the primary and underlying cause of terror activities (How do we respond to a relentless wave of terror?; June 4).

In Singapore, achieving real interaction to promote mutual trust and understanding between the various ethnic groups still remains a cultural and national conundrum.

The Government is wisely sparing no pains in promoting integration and cohesion across ethnic and racial divides.

Negative stereotyping will always continue, particularly among the ignorant and prejudiced, because of the "us versus them" mindset.

Singaporeans should avoid stereotyping other Singaporeans as well as foreign workers.

Real interaction cannot come about by chance.

It has to evolve with people coming together to expand the settings, avenues, opportunities and resources to encourage the different ethnic groups, cultures and creeds to meet and understand, appreciate and celebrate one another's beliefs, lifestyles, festivals, religious practices and social norms.

This is the surest way to wipe out the ignorant notions and perceptions many people still cling to.

This vital ingredient of our survival cannot be attained overnight, but must be carefully inculcated in the young in the home environment andschool system. These are the core arenas where racial and religious harmony can be planted, nurtured and cultivated.

Racist mindsets and negative perceptions and attitudes have no place in our pluralistic society.

The state has painstakingly created social cohesion, understanding, tolerance and close interaction between the various communities in Singapore, and our very survival and progress are built on these tenets.

It is now more important than ever to cast our prejudices aside and work for togetherness so that extremism can be held at bay.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 11, 2017, with the headline 'Cast prejudices aside to keep extremism at bay'. Print Edition | Subscribe