It's not about 'us' versus 'them'

The riot that broke out at Little India on Dec 8, 2013.
The riot that broke out at Little India on Dec 8, 2013. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

I AM saddened that the Little India riot on Sunday has attracted so much attention worldwide (“Foreign media shocked, notes rising tensions here”; Tuesday).

For more than 40 years, Singapore has been a peaceful place for people from all walks of life to live in, work and play. The latest incident does not do justice to the efforts of the Government to foster close interaction and integration between Singaporeans and foreigners.

Most Singaporeans welcome foreigners to live and work here, and we expect them to adapt to our way of life.

So, the culprits who caused wilful damage in Little India should be dealt with severely and all necessary measures put in place to prevent a repeat of such incidents.

Singaporeans should avoid stereotyping and negative perceptions of foreigners who come to live and work among them. Rightly or wrongly, we are aware of the differences between “us” and “them”.

However, “us” and “them” does not have to mean “us” versus “them”. As adults, we should be better able to deal with human diversity.

Those opposed to immigration and the influx of foreign labour see it as legitimate to fear the economic and social costs arising from the presence of large numbers of foreigners here.

While some of these perceptions may appear justifiable, we must realise that the overwhelming majority of foreigners in our midst are hard-working, peace-loving and law-abiding.

Foreign workers sacrifice a lot to come here to help in our infrastructure development, giving us roads and beautiful homes.

Understandably, our image as a peaceful nation has been affected by the riot. So it is imperative that we should all help in ensuring that there is no repeat.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)