Focus on similarities, not differences, of Singaporeans

Residents dressed in red and white form a human flag between Blocks 16 and 18 on Bedok South Road, mirroring a giant 12m-by-8m Singapore flag hung on the facade of Block 18, on Aug 5, 2018.
Residents dressed in red and white form a human flag between Blocks 16 and 18 on Bedok South Road, mirroring a giant 12m-by-8m Singapore flag hung on the facade of Block 18, on Aug 5, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

Too much discussion on the differences of Singaporeans in terms of socio-economic status, age groups, race or religion, will likely generate negative feelings among some people.

Let's focus on the similarities among Singaporeans instead so that we can feel as one united people.

What better occasion to do it than during the bicentennial celebrations?

The display of the national flag by households is one way to do so.

By displaying our national flag, we are actually showing our joy and pride that Singapore is an independent country.

It would be ideal if free flags could be delivered to all households and the meaning of displaying the flags explained to the residents.

Another way is to set aside some subsidised activities only for Singaporeans during the bicentennial celebrations.

All Singaporeans should also be encouraged to contribute ideas on how to unite everyone in other aspects of life.

It is not something that comes naturally in such a diverse society, unlike other more homogeneous societies.

For example, I was impressed by the efforts of the Esplanade to include a free Malay performance at the Outdoor Theatre in March during the festival for seniors. Though the majority in the audience were Malays, there were a substantial number of Chinese.

A Malay singer presented a joyous Mandarin pop song, with everyone in the audience clapping to the rhythm of the music.

We already enjoy benefits in housing, healthcare and education but such financial privileges are less effective in uniting us as one people.

Yeo Boon Eng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Focus on similarities, not differences, of Singaporeans'. Print Edition | Subscribe