One united people - Singapore's never-ending project

A new book examines the quest for racial harmony – can we ‘forget’ our differences as formulated in S. Rajaratnam’s draft of the national pledge?

Multiculturalism is, arguably, the X factor of independent Singapore's admired country brand. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

"One United People" - the title of a new book of 23 essays on Singapore's racial harmony - deliberately carries quotation marks for two reasons: The phrase is taken from the national pledge; and it acts as a reminder that racial harmony is not a reachable destination, but a never-ending journey, an aspiration that every citizen and resident can contribute to every day.

An earlier draft of the pledge - suggested by then Minister for Culture (and later Deputy Prime Minister) S. Rajaratnam in a letter dated Feb 18, 1966, to then Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon - reads:

Already a subscriber? 

Dive deeper at $0.99/month

Want more exclusives, sharp insights into what's happening at home and abroad? Subscribe to stay informed.

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • 2-week e-paper archive so you never miss out on any topic that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.