Singapore, China officials exchange views on managing diversity at forum

SINGAPORE - As more Singaporeans champion causes they care about, others may hold different views - and the Government is finding new ways to manage this emerging diversity of values, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at a forum on Tuesday (May 17).

The Government tries to bring different groups together to hear each other's differing views, and tries to help them reach a consensus, allowing each group enough space while preserving the largest common space possible, he said.

"But everyone has to understand that if each group pushes for more, other groups will push back and society as a whole will end up with less," he said in a keynote speech on Singapore's diversity and how it is managed.

Mr Teo was speaking at the opening of the third Singapore-China Social Governance forum, which was attended by 100 officials in total from both countries.

The theme for this year's forum, held every two years, was governance in a diverse society.

Mr Teo also spoke on three other ways Singapore is diverse: in race and religion, in terms of movement of people across countries, and at economic levels.

Singapore is the world's most religiously diverse country, yet it enjoys social harmony, he said, highlighting policies that strengthen multiculturalism such as integrated public housing.

Similarly, new immigrants who choose to settle here are encouraged to integrate into society by community organisations.

Also, to ensure the less well-off do not fall behind, the Government provides access to good education and training regardless of family background.

"In Singapore, we celebrate and draw strength from our diversity. But we also recognise the importance of managing our diversity well," said Mr Teo.

Singapore and China are similar in some ways, and can learn from each other's experiences, he added.

Senior Chinese official Meng Jianzhu, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Political and Legal Affairs Commission, also delivered a keynote address on China's experience in improving social governance.

"As Singapore's friendly neighbour and cooperative partner, China is glad to see your achievements in social governance and is willing to learn from your fresh experiences," he said in Mandarin.