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Getting to know one another key to racial harmony

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's emphasis that our multiracialism is not perfect yet (S'pore's multiracialism not yet perfect: PM Lee; Sept 24) and Mr Viswa Sadasivan's conversation with his daughter (Malayalee father tells what Chinese gangster taught him; Sept 24) drive home the essence of the argument that racist mindsets, perceptions and attitudes have no place in our pluralistic society. This is the surest way to wipe out the ignorant notions and perceptions many people still cling to.

Achieving real interaction to promote mutual trust and understanding between the various ethnic groups still remains an important cultural and national concern.

It bears repeating that real interaction cannot come about by chance. It has to evolve with people coming together to expand the settings, avenues, opportunities and resources so that people of different ethnic groups, cultures, creeds and origins can meet and learn to not only tolerate, but also understand, appreciate and celebrate one another's beliefs, lifestyles, festivals, religious practices and social norms.

When people with dissimilar backgrounds and viewpoints meet and become comfortable in one another's presence, they achieve greater cohesion, integration and racial harmony.

It is, therefore, up to all of us to cast our prejudices aside and work for togetherness, while focusing on our similarities.

Racial harmony has always been taken for granted but we all know that to ensure cohesiveness, we have to continually work at it.

A multiracial, multicultural and multilingual society like ours requires tolerance, empathy and acceptance. There is a real need for us to learn to appreciate the intricacies of diversity so mutual understanding and trust become second nature to us.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 01, 2017, with the headline 'Getting to know one another key to racial harmony'. Print Edition | Subscribe