Cultural diversity key to strong national fabric

Former foreign minister George Yeo championed for us to stay true to our cultural genome because that is a powerful inheritance from the past which will in fact secure our future (The US-China Cold Peace and Singapore's cultural DNA; Feb 4).

I would add that at the Singapore Perspectives 2019 conference, he also shared that when granting pink NRICs and citizenship certificates upon new citizens during his time as minister, he would counsel them not to cut off their ties to their countries of birth, as those ties are an asset to Singapore.

I find that unconventional, enlightening and certainly something worth highlighting.

While most of us are aware of immigration as an economy-boosting strategy, we tend to overlook the richness immigrants add to our cultural diversity, and the value brought by their connections to, and understanding of, their former countries.

Imagine a Singaporean company that is contemplating an expansion to Sri Lanka; who better to add to its team than a Sri Lankan immigrant who is already well versed in the target country in terms of local language, cultural idiosyncrasies, geographical knowledge and bureaucratic navigation?

By proactively managing immigration, keeping up infrastructural development and maintaining social harmony all the same, the story of Singapore's immigration success is one to be continued from our early pioneers to future generations as our social, economic and national fabric continues to be woven and strengthened by interlacing magnificently diverse cultural groups from thread to thread.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Cultural diversity key to strong national fabric'. Print Edition | Subscribe