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What kind of S'porean is ideal for nation?

The study by the Institute of Policy Studies and Channel NewsAsia got me thinking about the kind of Singaporean the country wants for the future (More identify with S'pore than their ethnicity; Nov 9).

Figures in the survey showed that more identify themselves as Singaporeans (35 per cent) than with their ethnic identity (14.2 per cent).

Is this a good trend?

Would we want a citizen to be 100 per cent Singaporean first - who is oblivious to race and colour - or a 100 per cent ethnic identity-first Singaporean, who is strongly attached to his ethnic culture, but tolerant of other races?

Although our culture and ancestry should not be forgotten, we should not lament their weakening influence.

It is natural for the older generation to want to preserve the old customs and traditions, but an overemphasis on traditional and religious values can sometimes paralyse the development of a vibrant new nation.

I hold the view that as a nation, we must work towards a 100 per cent Singapore-first identity, but the question needs to be discussed openly and should not be glossed over.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'What kind of S'porean is ideal for nation?'. Print Edition | Subscribe