Continued dialogue with the people essential for peace

It is important to understand that peace in our country is not guaranteed.

In fact, peace is fragile, as cracks will surely appear in society.

We have to be vigilant so as to find solutions to quickly cement any gaps that surface in our living space.

We need to know that Hong Kong, like us, enjoyed years of peace and prosperity.

It is sad to witness, in recent times, that growing numbers of citizens there are more inclined to use violence or radical acts to express their opinion ("Nearly 90 HK police officers injured in Mongkok riot"; Feb 10).

While it is convenient to point fingers at the pro-democracy movement, the root cause has to do with the stress of having to compete for livelihoods in markets that are becoming more global.

In such an open and global world ruled by the instant flow of information, people everywhere are very quickly influenced - for good and bad.

To prevent any type of unrest in Singapore, the Government has to keep on having a dialogue with the people.

Today, it is even more important to raise the tempo of our national conversation.

This is a good sounding board for unhappiness to be expressed early, and is also the appropriate platform to allow more Singaporeans to participate in nation building in a continuous fashion.

When both the Government and the people stay engaged with each other, this will become the vaccine against any possible threat of disturbance that may destroy the peace and harmony we have all helped to build over the past 50 years.

Albert Sim Kian Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Continued dialogue with the people essential for peace'. Print Edition | Subscribe