Singaporeans must not live just for themselves

If Singapore is to continue punching above its weight, its citizens cannot afford to live just for themselves.

Instead, they must rally together to protect and live the Singapore way of life - one of multiculturalism, multiracialism, and of a people who respect and care for others more than they care about themselves.

In a speech at the recent SAF Scholarship Tea Session, Major Choy Yong Cong went beyond reminding the students why defence and national service were imperative to Singapore.

He also pointed out the unique experiences that make us Singaporean, and the shared values we take away - of brotherhood, fulfilment, and bringing everyone to the finish line.

Indeed, in the wake of a tumultuous start to 2016, who are Singaporeans deciding to be?

When news broke of 27 radicalised Bangladeshis detained under the Internal Security Act, we caught a glimpse of how Singaporeans might react if there were a terror attack in Singapore.

After all, as Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam pointed out, the extremists could have easily changed their plans and launched an attack in Singapore ("27 radicalised Bangladeshis held under ISA"; Jan 21).

In the immediate aftermath of the news, politicians urged Singaporeans not to lose trust in foreign workers, warning against Islamophobia, and reinforcing the rhetoric of protecting our multi-religious society.

However, there was no social media campaign, no Singaporean version of the #illridewithyou hashtag to show support.

Singapore cannot afford to grow complacent and neglect any cracks in its unique foundation.

If Singapore truly wants to command more than it should, Singaporeans need to make their mark and be an altruistic people who take care of their own, and others.

With respectful, constructive dialogue built upon established trust and respect, Singapore can then truly chart a brave, new way forward.

Shawn Evan Ten Chee Keat