Forum: Holding online forums to higher standards one way to foster inclusion

In recent days, several news articles and discussions in Parliament have focused on racism towards the Indian community.

While the recent incident in Pasir Ris is the most visible example of this, any time spent online looking at the comment sections of various platforms will highlight the extent of racism, expressed in hurtful comments that predate the pandemic.

While condemnation from the most senior leaders is critical in setting the tone, more actions can be considered to help drive greater inclusion in Singapore society.

First, more community action is required at the grassroots level to help inculcate a deeper understanding of different groups of people.

Tolerance needs to give way to respect - and respect needs to be inculcated in all groups of society through a heightened level of inclusion in the public and private sectors.

Second, active discussion on race should take place to build a deeper appreciation for different cultures.

For example, it is astonishing how many people still think that all Indians speak Tamil - this highlights a significant lack of understanding of India that needs to be addressed, given the changing cultural demographics of Singapore.

Third, in the same way those spreading online falsehoods can be prosecuted, those posting comments in online forums should be held to higher standards - online forums may offer an opportunity for people to vent their frustrations, but this has to be done with civility.

As a new and exceptionally proud citizen of Singapore, I take the oath of allegiance very seriously - we must continue to do everything we can to "pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation".

This will ensure that Singapore, with its strength lying in its diversity, continues to be a lighthouse for all countries in the world.

Arjun Raj Mohan Jolly

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