Writer Of The Week

Mr Nagpal and his wife Pushpinder, with (from left) daughter Parveen, son-in-law Bhubhindar Singh Bhandal (holding granddaughter), son Randeep (with grandson in arms) and daughter-in-law Yuhana.
Mr Nagpal and his wife Pushpinder, with (from left) daughter Parveen, son-in-law Bhubhindar Singh Bhandal (holding granddaughter), son Randeep (with grandson in arms) and daughter-in-law Yuhana.PHOTO: COURTESY OF AJIT SINGH NAGPAL

Who: Ajit Singh Nagpal, 68. I retired after serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for 27 years and working in the private sector for another 12 years. I also freelanced in teaching spoken English to adults.

My family: Married to a housewife, 67, with a daughter and son, both married with children.

My home: A five-room HDB flat in Marine Parade, where I have lived for more than 40 years.

My passions: In the 1960s and 70s, stability in one's profession was more important than pursuing any passion - at least that was what our parents taught us. They had taken great risks in leaving the turmoil of their homeland (Punjab, Pakistan) for this part of the world, and they worked hard to ensure that we had an education in Singapore.

I started writing to the Forum page in ...: 2008.

What I write about: I like writing about racial harmony, as it means a great deal to me.

When I was in school, we students were actually blind to race and skin colour. This was also the case when I joined the SAF in 1966. It did not matter who you were or where you came from, we saw everyone as one.

However, the situation seems to have changed somewhat today. We need to be reminded so much more about the importance of racial harmony now. I wonder why.

Another issue I like writing about concerns the standard of English in Singapore. While our students have learnt to score distinctions in examinations, many do not fare as well when it comes to communicating and interacting in English. Just listen to the comments made in English by the public on TV, or the English used at shopping centres and restaurants. There is so much more we can do to improve the standard of English here, such as providing more training to front-line staff.

Why I write: I enjoy writing as it is an avenue to express my opinions.

I read the Forum page because...: It is the place in the newspaper to turn to if you want to get a feel of what matters to Singaporeans, and what is happening here.

My wish for Singapore: My wish is that Singapore can become a showpiece for the world when it comes to all races living in harmony.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Writer Of The Week'. Print Edition | Subscribe