Letter of the week #1: Racial unity - are we regressing?

[NEW POST][/NEW POST]I have lived 72 years of my life in Singapore and I went to school at St Patrick's from 1955 to 1964. The students were made up of Singaporean and Malayan Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, and some Dayaks from Sarawak.

We never felt offended when a joke was made regarding race or colour or language. We took it in good stride and humour. There was no bullying to any effect regarding race or colour.

As I was raised English-speaking at home as a Peranakan, I had no background in Chinese dialect or Mandarin. I took lots of ribbing from Mandarin- or dialect-speaking neighbours. Again, I never really felt offended and it helped build my character.

It is why, when I see the Western world getting more sensitive about race but not on religion or language, I feel we are going backwards.

Nowadays we are creating new rules to protect race and colour instead of working on cultivating sensitivity and encouraging thicker skins. Are we breeding a culture of people who have no sense of humour and are too touchy?

I do not condone running down another's race, religion, language, or colour in derogatory terms.

But when we start talking about a Chinese portraying Indians and Malays as being racist, we are overreacting.

We have always prided ourselves as Singaporeans living in harmony with all races. So when I see Chinese, Eurasians or Malays dressed in saris during Indian festivals, or when I see Chinese, Indians and Eurasians dressed in baju kurung and sarong kebaya, or when I see Malays, Indians and Eurasians don a cheongsam, I feel proud as a Singaporean. We have arrived as a nation.

Let us take a step back and consider what we are doing to ourselves. Are we going to be such an oversensitive nation or are we going to be really multiracial, with love, respect and sharing towards all?

Ron Ho