Safeguard Singapore's diversity and harmony

A Hindu devotee (left) pictured carrying his kavadi, or physical burden, while waiting to enter the Sri Thendayuthapani temple during the festival of Thaipusam in Singapore, on Jan 24, 2016.
A Hindu devotee (left) pictured carrying his kavadi, or physical burden, while waiting to enter the Sri Thendayuthapani temple during the festival of Thaipusam in Singapore, on Jan 24, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

I could not help but notice two stories that stood out in The Straits Times on Monday ("Live music gives lift to Thaipusam celebrations" and "Novena Church extension under way").

And I thought to myself, here are just two examples of the religious diversity to be found in Singapore.

If we include customs and culture as well, Singapore is quite unique in the world, in that people of all races, religions and languages can gather together and celebrate one another's traditions and beliefs, and respect them.

That is something worth fighting for and preserving, and we, as Singaporeans, must do everything in our power to protect what we have created in bringing our people from different backgrounds together.

It is what helped us build this nation of ours.

Therefore, Singaporeans, as a whole, have a shared responsibility to ensure that no one is allowed to interfere, let alone attempt to jeopardise, what we have worked so hard to establish over five decades.

We are slowly merging as one, though there are still some isolated pockets of resistance, but within another 50 years, there should be nothing to divide us.

Our practices and thoughts should become integrated; at the same time, there must always remain freedom of choice to express ourselves in our own way, in a reasonable manner.

As we approach SG100, we should be able to choose our own path - without treading on others'.

We must show the rest of the world the way to an existence that is agreeable to all.

We are practically there, where there is much give and take, and people accept the need for others to indulge in their practices.

This reveals how sensible Singaporeans have become over time.

They are also sensitive to the needs of others, and are practical, and understand that there has to be flexibility, even though there may be inconveniences when spaces have to be shared.

For those from foreign lands who have come here to work, and benefit from this conducive environment, it is important that they respect this, and the country and its people who have made all this possible.

Only then can we all stand to gain fully.

Manoraj Rajathurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'Safeguard Singapore's diversity and harmony'. Print Edition | Subscribe