Social cohesion does not happen by accident

Everyday activities between people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures, such as eating together in hawker centres, or attending one another's festive celebrations, are important opportunities to build greater mutual acceptance, understanding and respect (Vital to have more interactions among races in daily life, by Dr V. Subramaniam; Sept 5).

At the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), we facilitate interactions and bonding in our neighbourhoods and common spaces through our work in the arts, sports, community, youth and volunteerism sectors.

As a multiracial society, Singaporeans have nurtured an identity based not on creed, colour or class, but on shared values.

However, this does not mean that we give up our cultural or religious identities, which add to the richness of Singapore society.

Our cultural performances and festivals allow communities to discover and be inspired by each other's rich heritage.

With a better appreciation of one another's background, we see how each of us has something unique to contribute to Singapore.

MCCY's Bridge programme funds ground-up projects for different communities to talk about their beliefs and practices in safe spaces. One such example is the Ask Me Anything series.

Taking that first step to engage, which can be as simple as helping a neighbour or volunteering in our neighbourhoods, is a simple but powerful contribution we all can make.

Social cohesion does not happen by accident. The state has a critical role, but the initiative lies with each and every one of us as Singaporeans.

Taking that first step to engage, which can be as simple as helping a neighbour or volunteering in our neighbourhoods, is a simple but powerful contribution we all can make.

Singapore's social cohesion makes us an exceptional nation.

We agree with Dr Subramaniam that every Singaporean can and should play a part in strengthening the bonds between our diverse communities, and work together towards a more cohesive and inclusive Singapore.

Lim Shung Yar

Director, Community Relations and Engagement Division

Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'Social cohesion does not happen by accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe