Unity a safeguard against extremism

People crossing the road at Yishun bus interchange on Feb 11, 2019.
People crossing the road at Yishun bus interchange on Feb 11, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Extremism will remain an aberrant exception, as will some people's mental conviction for it (Working to expand space for cohesion, June 26).

Science reveals that, while we were all born with the very same characteristics of human species, our innate potential differs from one individual to another.

Evidently, our culture and behaviour keep on changing with time. Everyone is susceptible with varying degree to persuasion, conversion and advertisement techniques.

Arguably, the poor, outcasts, minorities, the ambitious, the bored and the like are most vulnerable to persuasions and ideologies, including those of the extremists.

Extremists and extremism are detrimental to cohesion - only the rule of law (i.e. only the Government) has the power to keep them at bay.

Since independence in 1965, the Government's no-nonsense attitude towards extremists (and extremism) and its determination to ensure no citizen starves have been the bedrock of Singapore's secularism - that is, the space for cohesion.

While it is necessary that civil society and the like address the problems of regressive nationalism, this is not sufficient.

Educators must get involved. Every child from primary school through to adulthood must be taught to think, reason and understand the importance of inclusiveness for cohesion to succeed.

Needless to say, the instinct to be one united people - regardless of race, religion, language, disability, social status, sexual orientation and all other divisive factors - is the true safeguard against the violent manifestations of virulent communal fervour.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'Unity a safeguard against extremism'. Print Edition | Subscribe