I agree with Dr V. Subramaniam that racial harmony should not be seen only in the form of "staged" performances and activities on Racial Harmony Day ("Foster racial harmony in 'natural settings'"; last Friday).
It is natural for one to feel more comfortable with people who speak the same language and share a similar cultural background. Often, left on his own, a person may not choose to step forward and befriend others who are deemed "different".
Thus, tolerance and respect often need to be nurtured and developed properly. Studies have shown that it is most effective when such values are instilled at a young age, so that they can gradually become a way of life.
Formal events such as Racial Harmony Day play indispensable roles in raising awareness among children and youth of the need for different races to live peacefully with one another.
The activities organised at these occasions do not accentuate ethnic differences. Rather, they create an environment for young people to come together and celebrate the diversity of our multiracial society.
Through this, children will learn to accept their differences and develop mutual respect for one another. Hopefully, they will carry these values into their adulthood as well.
It is important to have organised and formal events to create opportunities to promote racial harmony, so that it becomes a part of every Singaporean's life.
Tan Jia Wen,
16, Secondary 4 student
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