Various races considerate towards others

Mr Lee joining residents at the Punggol South Fruits Fiesta. Various races and religions have different food requirements but when it comes to fruits, all barriers come down, he said.
Mr Lee joining residents at the Punggol South Fruits Fiesta. Various races and religions have different food requirements but when it comes to fruits, all barriers come down, he said.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

The various races in Singapore are considerate towards others when carrying out their cultural and religious practices.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed out that the Chinese would burn their incense paper in special burners instead of in the open during the Seventh Month Festival.

The Muslims are careful not to disturb their neighbours by lowering the volume of the azan (call to prayer) in mosques, while Hindu musicians perform at fixed points rather than walk alongside devotees during the Thaipusam procession to create less noise, he added.

They make such adjustments to ensure the country's social fabric is not compromised, he said in Mandarin at the National Day Rally.

Mr Lee underscored the importance of racial harmony amid concerns that terrorism could rend the country's social fabric.

"The Chinese community instinctively understands the importance of multiracialism and the need to be inclusive and to compromise to maintain social harmony.

"Indeed, this has become second nature of all races," he added.

Such accommodation can be seen as well in how the food requirements of various races and religions are handled during activities, "so each can eat what he likes and not impose on someone else".

Pointing to the rally's reception, Mr Lee said to laughter from the audience that his colleagues made sure there was something for everyone: soto babat for the Muslims, chapati for the Indians, kong bak bao for the Chinese, and baked salmon with curry for the Eurasians.

"We also have vegetarian and international cuisine, there are soft drinks and beer, but please, don't drink and drive!" he quipped.

But when it comes to fruits, all barriers come down, he said.

At a durian party last year, he said "all of us, from all races, enjoyed ourselves, even our foreign friends''.

He added: "I hope all races will eat with each other frequently and stay in touch."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Various races considerate towards others'. Print Edition | Subscribe