Mutual respect is what will bring S'poreans, foreigners together

It is the long process of education that instils one with a sense of national identity and pride (Step up integration of new citizens to avoid identity crisis by Mr Albert Ng Ya Ken; Nov 21).

Reciting the National Pledge before the start of each school day, without doubt, provides children with an opportunity to develop the national conscience of "we".

Economic migrants would have missed out at least 12 years of this cultural conditioning.

I vividly remember the late Deputy Prime Minister Mr S. Rajaratnam encouraging us, the new economic migrants in the 1970s, to unpack our baggage - to let go of our long-held ideas, emotions and beliefs that we hauled around with great effort that were an impediment to the Pledge - if we wanted to become permanent settlers here.

His advice resonated among many of us.

Active participation in social (sports and recreation) or community events is necessary but not sufficient to be a good citizen.

The feeling of a sense of belonging can only come from within.

While I agree that "the Government alone cannot handle the gigantic task", its determination not only to protect ethnic heritage but also to promote the inclusive spirit of Singapore through various National Day celebrations is admirable.

It is not ethnicity but mutual respect between foreigners, new citizens, old citizens, and "born and bred" Singaporeans that brings about the feeling of "us" as one united people.

S. Ratnakumar

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