Maintaining multiculturalism the way to go

I agree with Mr Lee Teck Chuan that "everyone counts" ("Let's be a cultural melting pot, not bowl of salad"; Jan 7).

Since Singapore's independence in 1965, the Government has spared no effort in nurturing Singapore's multiracial, multilingual, and multicultural environment to become conducive to harmonious living.

And, as a result, we enjoy a high degree of inclusiveness, peace and order in our "common space".

Will the strong harmony today prevail forever?

While, ideally, each of us ought to extend our social instincts and sympathies to others, due to the growth in religiosity, our communities are becoming less flexible and more suspicious of others.

As such, the "common space" is under pressure - as seen, for example, in the divide between those who strive to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people have equal rights and those striving to deny LGBTQ folk those rights.

Therefore, it is vital that the Government continues to exercise vigilance in ensuring that our "common space" is truly protected.

Should we abandon our culturally diverse "ancestral inheritance" in the name of pursuing a cultural melting pot?

Rich traditions add value to the "common space". Abandoning such traditions would run contrary to common sense.

It is heartening that the educators and media are doing their best to help Singaporeans gain insights into many traditional celebrations.

And, as an ethnic Tamil, I am proud that our annual Pongal festival celebrations are not marginalised in Singapore.

Singapore's multiculturalism carries the potential for conflicts.

But that does not prevent us from interacting meaningfully with other communities to understand their traditions and respect them.

Regardless of whether we are immigrants or Singaporeans by birth, Singapore has become our home and, hence, living with mutual respect for one another is the only way forward.

While assimilation is difficult as there is no single and shared culture to assimilate, the Government's active participation in the maintenance of multiculturalism should be the order of the day.

In the context of Singapore today, a "bowl of salad" might be more meaningful than a "cultural melting pot".

S. Ratnakumar