Since our independence, race has always been a fundamental and central issue in Singapore. Before 1965, we already had many diverse communities that migrated here from different lands and spoke different languages. Harmony in Singapore did not arise naturally between our different ethnic groups. Our founding leaders were determined to confront the dangers of communal strife and to forge a common culture as part of nation building.
That is why they set out, from the very beginning, to build a multiracial, multi-religious secular nation. As Mr Lee Kuan Yew said on Aug 9, 1965, and I am sure all of us are familiar with this quote: "This is not a Malay nation; this is not a Chinese nation; this is not an Indian nation. Everyone will have his place, equal: language, culture, religion."