Kudos to Govt for racial harmony policies

Mourners pray at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 19, 2019.
Mourners pray at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Road in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 19, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

A lot has been said about the recent terror attack in Christchurch, and much has yet to be said (IRO, faith groups and leaders condemn attack, urge unity, March 16).

But this is not about that. This is, instead, an open letter to the Singapore Government to say thank you.

Thank you for all the policies that have been implemented to ensure that Islamophobia, along with other racial and religious phobias, has been kept at bay.

Thank you for creating a community in which we can appreciate people of other races and religions.

From ensuring racial diversity in public housing to celebrating every major holiday of the various races, the Government has made us capable of being a people who sees people of different races not as "the other", but rather, as fellow Singaporeans.

I did a recent poll on Instagram, asking my Singaporean friends what resonated more with them - their race or their nationality.

The majority of them - including most of those from the minority races who voted - picked the latter.

Those polled were from similar socio-economic backgrounds and I will concede that this is far from reflective of the Singaporean population. Still, the results were extremely heartening.

They indicated that among those who voted, racial harmony policies have done well to foster the idea of nationality over race.

Truly, we have been so conditioned to interacting with people of all races and religions that such an attack seems more like a crime against humanity than a crime directed at a particular group.

Indeed, it is interesting to be among so many different cultures and yet still feel so deeply for what it means to be a Singaporean.

And because of that, the Government has succeeded in building a nation that can overlook race, language, or religion to stand as one united people.

Lynette Teo Zhi Cheng (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Kudos to Govt for racial harmony policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe