Need for deep everyday conversations on maintaining multiracial harmony: President Halimah Yacob

Chairman of Singapore Discovery Centre Adrian Chua presents a framed group photo to President Halimah Yacob during her visit to Singapore Discovery Centre, on Aug 28, 2018.
Chairman of Singapore Discovery Centre Adrian Chua presents a framed group photo to President Halimah Yacob during her visit to Singapore Discovery Centre, on Aug 28, 2018.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN
President Halimah Yacob with students from Xingnan Primary School during her visit to Singapore Discovery Centre, on Aug 28, 2018.
President Halimah Yacob with students from Xingnan Primary School during her visit to Singapore Discovery Centre, on Aug 28, 2018.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

SINGAPORE - There needs to be deep and ongoing everyday conversations on what it takes to maintain multiracial harmony in Singapore - beyond just relying on activities organised to promote it, President Halimah Yacob said on Tuesday (Aug 28).

Speaking to students from Anglo-Chinese Junior College who were taking part in a racial harmony programme at the Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC), Madam Halimah said students should also ask themselves how they as individuals can further contribute to racial harmony.

One way is to speak up against stereotypes that they hear in everyday conversation, she said.

"In that process, what you're doing is preventing these kind of misperceptions from spreading, and you're telling others that you're not going to be too tolerant to those who are having these kind of conversations," said Madam Halimah.

As part of the programme, the students discussed how to address and prevent racial stereotypes.

Madam Halimah was at the SDC to view the centre's racial harmony and National Day programmes.

She also toured its new interactive National Day exhibition We're SG, which involves activities, games and a film encouraging active citizenry and the kampung spirit.

These aim to remind people of values such as multiracialism, inclusiveness and hard work, which have underpinned the founding of Singapore, said Madam Halimah.

Student R. Sharveen Ram, 17, said: "I usually laugh off racist comments or I fire back, but after what she said, I think it showed that laughing it off or firing back is just encouraging them to carry on doing this.

"So, we should just put an end to it, be firm and say this is not right."