SINGAPORE - The economic and social dangers that Singapore face should compel us to fortify our social fabric while not taking the current state of racial harmony and social cohesion for granted, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Tuesday (March 9).
"Global fault lines have sharpened and social divides that were already eminent in many countries before the pandemic are widening," she said, speaking at an awards ceremony to recognise volunteers and projects that promote integration between locals and new immigrants.
She added that while Singapore tackles the challenging economic situation and supports its workforce, it is even more imperative to continue to build a more resilient, cohesive and stronger Singapore community.
"We must ensure that our community, both locals and new immigrants, continue to live and work harmoniously and look out for one another beyond this pandemic. No society remains cohesive simply because it used to be so in the past," Ms Indranee said.
The awards ceremony was organised by the People's Association Integration Council and was held in a hybrid fashion at the Kolam Ayer Community Club, with a virtual audience watching it live.
Among the 23 awards presented for community projects was one for a Sengkang West committee's project which brought locals and new immigrants together last year to prepare care packs for more than 440 vulnerable residents, seniors and cleaners.
Committee leader April Lau, 43, a sales manager, said: "This project provided a platform for both local residents and new citizens to mingle, to get to know one another and to do something good for the community."
She added that new immigrants may face language barriers and may not be confident to speak with their neighbours. Such projects can help them form bonds with others.
Radin Mas committee leader Fabian Ng, 63, a senior lecturer, said: "I think the major challenge that new immigrants face would be... adapting to a new environment with differing backgrounds, cultural practices and local norms."
Supply chain analyst Phyo Min Khine, 29, who is from Myanmar and took part in some integration activities, said: "New immigrants are not just looking for opportunities here but also a sense of belonging too. We want to play our part in contributing back to the community to build a better and more gracious and caring community for all in Singapore."